I attended an awesome workshop last week. The presenter was Dr. Cathy Marks Krpan, and the topic was communication in math instruction. This workshop really brought together everything I've learned about differentiated math instruction and cooperative learning.
I have used clotheslines in my classroom before. I've had students put numbers in order, and I've even used them in Word Work by asking students to arrange words into sentences (I even wrote the sight words on clothing-shaped paper!). But this goes one step further, and I tried it out on a Grade 8 class this week, as shown in the picture above.
While working with a small group, and another group was working together on percentage task cards, one group of students was at the clothesline, which I draped across the whiteboard at the front of the classroom. The cards I had prepared included percentages, decimal fractions, regular fractions and representations of parts of 1. The students had to decide collaboratively which cards went where in order to place them from least to greatest. The cards that were equal could be clipped together. The language that was being used as they debated over which cards went where was some of the best discussion I've heard in a math classroom in a long time! It was wonderful, to say the least!
This is an activity that could be used right across the grades.
Kindergarten: Numerals, dot arrangements and ten frames.
Grade 2: Numerals, number words, base ten blocks and addition/subtraction equations.
Grade 5: Multiplication/Division equations, arrays, and numerals.
Students could make patterns on the clothesline, skip count, order integers, sort shapes by attribute...
I highly recommend this book. It is Math Expressions: Developing Student Thinking and Problem Solving Through Communication by Dr. Cathy Marks Krpan.
Travelling Curriculum Support Teacher