Friday, May 11, 2012

back in the saddle again

I know we have been gone for a while but we recently got the Wii back in the classroom.  Our PE teachers had taken it to do some lessons with Dance Dance games - so hopefully there will be a new lesson at the website soon!  But for now we are back talking about Math using Wii Sports to bowl!

One of the students ready to get a strike!
Nicole used the Wii Bowling game to discuss fractions and simplification.  We started off the class with a pre-test.  When the 4th graders came in, she had 5 problems on the board, and asked the students to simply the fractions.  None of them were able to do it.  We had some that subtracted the numerator from the denominator, some that divided the denominator by the numerator, and 1 that drew pictures of the blocks to show each fraction (which is the experience that they have had with fractions before).  Then Nicole did a lesson on fractions and explained how they can be simplified when both the top number (the numerator) and the bottom number (denominator) have a common factor.  She went through the 5 examples on the board and answered questions.  Then we pulled out the Wii.
All of the students have played Wii bowling before so no explanation of the game or controller position was necessary.  We began by having the students fold their paper in half (long wise) and write pins knocked down on one side and pins left on the other side of the fold.  The plan at the beginning was to have them write down the total number of pins for each frame (so for both balls).  The first student threw the ball while students at their seats wrote down how many pins he knocked down.  The first throw was a strike so the students wrote down 10/10 on the left side and 0/10 on the right side of the fold.  Then they looked at 10/10 and simplified it down to its simplest form of 1.  The next student knocked down 9 and then 0.  The next three or 4 students also hit down a total of 9 pins (no simplifying necessary), so Nicole decided to change the fractions from the frame total to each throw total.  This produced more results!  The next student knocked down 6/10 on the first throw and then 2 more on the second throw. So, our first set of numbers were 6/10 (reduced to 3/5) knocked down and 4/10 (reduced to 2/5) left over.  The second set of numbers were 2/4 (reduced to ½) knocked down and 2/4 (also reduced to ½) left over.  Nicole explained that since there were only 4 pins left with the 2nd throw then you would have to change the denominator to accurately represent the problem.  We continued this way having each student get two throws and writing down and reducing each fraction as we worked our way around the class.
We got many ohhs and ahhs from the students as good shots were thrown, and even when some bad ones were thrown, and at one point I heard one of the students say, “Throw a strike so the math is easy for us!”  We didn’t finish all the students in the class so the plan will be to play again tomorrow and let the rest of the class bowl.  Then next week, we will give a post test and see how many of the students understood and retained the concept of reducing fractions!

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