Teacher Standards

Fractions (finding a quarter)- TS2a TS2d TS3a TS3e

2a. be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes
2d. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching
3a. have a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings
3e. if teaching early mathematics, demonstrate a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies.

Observing a maths lesson finding the quarter of a shape (Year 1)

Starter
The teacher demonstrated finding a quarter by first recapping halving a circle on the whiteboard by drawing a line through it and then explaining that to find a quarter we repeat this and halve again. The children then all received a circular piece of paper and were shown how to fold it twice to give quarters.

Activity
The children were given a selection of printed images of cake and pizza and were asked to find a quarter of each using the same folding technique modelled in the starter then drawing along the lines to mark the quarters. With some of the images this was quite effective however the accuracy depended on the format/layout of the pictures chosen. For example, if the picture was not perfectly centred, some children were actually finding a quarter of the piece of paper which when they opened it up, was often nowhere near a quarter of the cake/pizza. The circular objects being cut out on squares of paper also added a layer of confusion for some children. Careful selection of the images could have made this activity more effective and avoided misconceptions.

Whilst assisting a group of children with this activity, I noticed that a majority of the children struggled to “draw the quarter” and simply drew along the fold marks in a cross on the image. It seemed as though they understood that they had quartered the image but did not fully understand that each individual segment represented 1 quarter. I think that it could have been useful to demonstrate colouring in one of the quarters after folding the paper and explicitly counting the 4 quarters to explain exactly what 1 quarter means and looks like.

Reflections
I like the idea of using food items rather than plain shapes as a way of engaging the children in the activity and contextualising the mathematics. If I were to teach a similar activity myself however I would use a selection of shapes from the start of the topic so as to avoid children having limited understanding of fractions and of splitting a shape into fractions. Many other shapes could be linked to previous work on lines of symmetry to assist understanding of halving. The introduction of halving pieces of paper also provided a kinaesthetic element for the children which could help