My last week of practicum was filled mostly with making sure I tied up loose ends with the various sets of lessons that I had taught, and with my culminating activity. So it turns out that I had wayyyyyyy overestimated how quickly my students would get through the activity I had planned for them.
The project involved using fractions to describe a piece of art that the students had created. The students planned mosaics on a 10 x10 grid, which they then described using fractions, equivalents, and decimals. The criteria for a successful mosaic were:
At least 3 colours
A pattern with at least 1 line of symmetry (vertical or horizontal)
1/5 of the tile must be red
At least 3/4 of the tile must be coloured
Two of the colours must have equivalent amounts
Once the students had finished their templates, they then created large mosaics out of construction paper, and created gallery tags to describe their work when it was on display.
This project required a lot more work time than I expected; as a result I was unable to see finished products from some of the students and to consolidate properly with them. I was able to consolidate with a small group of students who had finished; they created their gallery cards and were able to “display” their art to one another and describe it. (The class work will all be posted on display boards in the school, with gallery cards, once it is finished.) All in all I was only able to mark about half of the mosaics, because that’s as many as were finished by the end of the week.
With this in mind, I would try to make the whole process more streamlined for students so that the work could move faster. I pre-prepared some of the materials (construction paper strips for cutting small tiles, the chart paper templates) – I would also prepare the pieces of backing paper ahead of time next time, as well as creating a larger batch of paper strips which could be divided between groups. (We had one large bin of pieces, which made for some traffic jams.)
I also had the students check their templates with me before they could move on to the “good copy” of their tile – while this was a little time consuming, I would still do it again; I think it was necessary for me to be able to check that the students were understanding and following the success criteria (and that their fractions were accurate!) If the students were a little older, I probably would have just posted my sample mosaic with the success criteria and allowed them to check their work and move on independently. As it was, I caught some errors and oversights – mostly around having equivalent fractions – and was able to correct some misunderstandings from a math standpoint.
Overall I think the activity went very well; the students were very engaged (even some who I usually had difficulty with) and several of them mentioned to me that they enjoyed what they were doing and it helped them to understand fractions more clearly. (Hooray!)
I was able to go back and visit my class two weeks after practicum had finished and see more of the finished work and chat with the students about what they had done since I left, which was great. I also received a collection of great letters from the kids which were simultaneously hilarious and touching. It made for a really nice end to practicum, and I look forward to being able to visit them again in the future.