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# Tracey C.

Brown

Math 614

Dr. Salkind

The Child:

## The child I chose to interview is named Tommy. Tommy is a male student in my

fifth grade class who is eleven years old. He is diagnosed with Attention Deficit

## Academically, he is on grade level, as he can manipulate problems to find the correct

answer, but rarely shows his work. Rather than communicating his reasoning and

proving his answer to be true, Tommy reads through the problem and writes down an

answer that he thinks best serves as the solution. Unless redirected by me, he does not

check to see if his answers make sense or satisfy the posed questions. During whole

group instruction, Tommy tends to shout out the answer to math problems. Sometimes,

he is correct; however, when questioned about his reasoning and strategies, he often

responses with, I just know. During independent and small group practice, Tommy has

a difficult time staying focused and rushes through his work to gain access to his center

(post the focus lesson and content practice, students take part in center time). Tommy is

often retaught and instructed one-on-one with me to ensure that he understands the

## content being taught.

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When analyzing Tommys academic abilities in class, an understanding of rational

## numbers is shown. He is able to fluently in manipulate problems with one-digit whole

numbers and is also able to solve some problems with two-digit numbers. For problems

with fractions, Tommy has a more difficult time solving these rational problems and will

only use direct modeling and manipulatives, if instructed by a teacher due to often

writing IDK, or I dont know when problems are too difficult to solve at first glance.

In his work, some proportional reasoning is evident. For example, the concept of equal

sharing is understood, as Tommy knows to use the division operation to distribute the

number of items; however, long division remainders are left untouched and are not

distributed evenly amongst the number of groups. Also, Tommy has difficultly

explaining fraction pieces, the whole, and reasoning up and down. Getting Tommy to

## Initial Interview Questions:

Questions for the initial interview came from Extending Childrens Mathematics:

Fractions and Decimals by Susan B. Empson and Linda Levi (2011). An easy and a

more difficult equal sharing problem were selected to help draw out and extend Tommys

## understanding of rational numbers and to also help him think proportionally. My

thinking was that Tommy may not be showing his work because he either mathematically

understands or he does not know how to show his reasoning on paper. Equal sharing

problems came from the end of the chapter practice. Here, the strategy chart was used to

show the different ways of solving each of the planned problems (p. 25). The chosen

multiple groups problems specifically were administered to fifth graders in the text to

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solve. Since considering Tommy to be on grade level, there problems were specifically

## previously administered tests and quizzes.

EqualSharingProblemswithLeveledSolutionExamples(PartI):

3friendswereataMexicanrestaurant.Theywerefeelinghungry,sothey
ordered8burritostoeach.Theywanttosharetheburritosequallyandeat
themall.Howmuchwilleachfriendgettoeat?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.30).

1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
3 3 3 3

1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
3 3 3 3

Eachburritoissplitintothirdstorepresentapieceforeachperson,as
eachperson8/3or21/3burritos(theleastsophisticatedexample
shownbasedonEmpsonandLevisrationale,p.25).

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

8 3=8/3or22/3

8burritosisdividedby3peopletoget8/3,animproperfraction.
8/3becomes22/3andeachpersongets22/3burritos(themost

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1 1

1 1

Fromthe8burritos,itsrecognizedthateachofthe3peoplegets2
burritosbecause2x3=6.Theremaining2burritosaresharedevenly
andsplitintothirds(somewhatsophisticated;inthemiddleofexample
1
and2forsophistication).

3Childrenwanttoequallyshare6peanutbuttersandwiches,withno
leftovers.Howmuchwilleachchildhave?(Empson&Levi,2011,p31).

1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
3 3 3 3

1 2 1 2
3 3

ofthehalfofasandwich;6/3=2plus1/6=21/6peanutbutter
sandwichesperpersontheleastsophisticatedmethodshown.

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

## 6 3=13/2 3/1=41/3 2=21/6

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1 1

Itsrecognizedthateachofthe3peopleget2sandwichesbecause
3x2=6.Withtheremaininghalfofasandwich,itissplitintothirds
andeachpersongetsapieceor1/3ofthehalf,whichis1/6ofawhole
sandwich.Eachpersongets21/6peanutbuttersandwiches.

MultipleGroupsProblemwithLeveledSolutionExamples(PartI):

Eachlittlecaketakescupoffrosting.IfBetywantstomake20littlecakesfor
aparty,howmuchfrostingwillsheneed?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.56).

1 2 3 5 6
2 2 4 5 6
1 3 4 5 7
1 3 4 6 7

10 11 13
7 9 10 12 13
8 99
8 10 11 12 13
11 12 14
8

14 17 18 19
15
15
14 17 18 20
16
16
15 17 19 20
16
16
15 18 19 20
16
16

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needed,asgroupsofisdrawnuntil20,representing20cakes,isreached
(theleastsophisticatedstrategy).

2
1 3
2
2 4
3
1 3 3 4
1 4
3

Above,ittakes3wholestomakes4cakes.Inordertoget20cakes,4is
multipliedby5.Subsequently,the3wholesaremultipliedby5;15
wholes/cupsareneeded.Thisexampleismoresophisticatedthanexample1.

3.MultiplicativeCoordination

x20=60/4=15cups(themostsophisticatedmethod)

Ittakes2/3ofayardofmaterialtomakeapillow.Howmanyyardsofmaterial
wouldittaketomake15pillows?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.57).

Yard(s) Pillow(s)
2/3 1
4/3 2
6/3 3
8/3 4
10/3 5

Knowingthat10/3yardsmakes5pillows,10/3and5canbemultipliedby3
because5x3=15;15pillowsneeded.Thismeans10/3x3or30/3,the
sameas10,yardsareneeded.Thisisasomewhatsophisticatedmethod.

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2. MultiplicativeCoordination

15x 2/3=30/3=10yardsneeded(themostsophisticatedstrategyshown)

Yard(s) Pillow(s)
2/3 1
4/3 2
6/3 3
8/3 4
10/3 5
12/3 6
14/3 7
16/3 8
18/3 9
20/3 10
22/3 11
24/3 12
26/3 13
28/3 14
30/3=10 15

Usingtheabovetabletoreasonouteach2/3yardperpillowuntiltheamount
ofyardsfor15pillowsisfoundistheleastsophisticatedmethodshown.

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DescriptionoftheInitialInterview:

underaminute.ToclearlygaininsightonTommysreasoning,hewastold,Letsgo

solvinglookfors,orwhatneedstobefoundinordertosolvetheproblem,thequestion

wasrewordedassuch:Whatdoes2remainder2represent?Tommywasthenableto

indicate,Eachpersongets2wholeburritos,butthenthe3friendswouldhavetothumb

wrestleforthelasttwo[burritos].Tommywasstartingtothisproportionallyandto

sharedamongstthe3friends.Here,Tommycompletedsomewhatofapersontoburrito

comparisontable(noformaltableused),showingthateachpersongets2burritos;

yousharethisburritoswiththreepeople?Tommythensplittheburritosintothirdsto

selfcorrectedwhenhaveTommycounthispartitionedpiecesandrestatehisfinal

Forthesecondequalsharingproblem,noquestioningwasneeded.Tommy

correctlydrew,solved,andexplainedhisreasoning.Here,hisproportionalreasoning

increased.Whentransitioningintothemultiplegroupsproblems,nounderstandingwas

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Subsequently,TommyeitherwrotedownaguessorIwouldtrythisifIknewhottodo

cakes?Here,theproblemwasrewordedtohoneinonthefactsandwhatneededtobe

found;however,thisdidnotseemtohelp,asthestudentstillshruggedhisshoulders.To

preventstudentfrustrationandtobuildupthestudentsknowledge,startingathis

comfortzoneofwholenumbers,thefraction(3/4)waschangedintoawholenumber(3)

viaextractingitsnumerator.Here,Ididntthinktochangethefractionintoaunit

fraction;however,Iusedthewholenumber,3,toseeifTommywouldrealizethat

multiplicationstillcouldbeused,asheoriginallyattemptedtodo.Tosolvetheoriginal

wasnotseenbythestudent.Whenpresentwiththerevisedquestion,Tommywasableto

quicklysolvetheproblemviamultiplication.ThisprovesthatTommytriestostayinhis

comfortzone,ashecanfluentlymanipulateproblemswithwholenumbers.

AnalysisoftheChildsMathematicalThinkingDuringtheInitialInterview:

Basedontheinitialinterview,IlearnedthatTommyaimstosolveproblemsby

usingmultiplicativecoordination.Heisveryeffectiveinidentifyingthekeywordsand

theircorrespondingoperations;however,thewhyislost.Tommycannotconsistently

sharinggroupproblem,Tommykneweachofthethreepeoplecouldnthaveathird

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burrito,butcouldntindependentlypartitionandnametheremaining2wholes.Itoo

modelhoweachofthethreechildrengot2wholesandwiches,butfortheremainder,

Tommyknewtomakesixths;however,hishalfofasandwichisnotproportionallydraw

withbiggervalues.Willhebecomefrustratedorremainfluentindemonstratingthe

multiplicativecoordinationstrategywiththebiggervalues?Forthemultiplegroups

problems,Iwanttoreusequestionthree,butwithaunitfractiontorepresenttheamount

threeandfourwhenthenumeratorwasused,IwonderhowTommywillbeforeifthe

sameproblemisusedtwice.Here,theamountpergroupwillbepresentedasaunit

fractionfollowedbyanequivalentfractiontoacommonfraction,1/2.Maybethis

methodwillhelpsparkaninquisitiveinterestinusingfractions,changingtheamountper

grouponhisownandmakinghimfeelmoreconfidentinsolvingmultiplegroups

opposedtogivingupsoeasily.IwanttoobserveTommysolvingmoremathword

bemorespecifictohisneedsandassisthiminbuildinghisproportionalreasoningskills

alongwithhisabilitytomanipulaterationalnumbers.

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SecondInterviewQuestions:

## Questions for the second interview came from Extending Childrens

Mathematics: Fractions and Decimals by Susan B. Empson and Linda Levi (2011), but

were modified. For my equal sharing problems, question one uses a two-digit value for

the total, 11 burritos, while question two uses a two-digit value for the number per group

value. Also, the values in each problem cannot be easily should through division-

Additive Coordination is more so needed to solve the given problems. For the multiple

groups problems, a unit fraction and a common fraction was used. Here, the same

multiple group problem was used, but the amount per group values were altered.

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EqualSharingProblemswithLeveledSolutionExamples:

9friendswereataMexicanrestaurant.Theywerefeelinghungry,sothey
ordered11burritostoeat.Theywanttosharetheburritosequallyandeatthem
all.Howmuchwilleachfriendget?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.30).

1
X9=9burritosor1burrito/person

=Theremainingpartitionedin
ninths,aseachpersonwillget

Eachpersongets1+2/9burritosor12/9.Theisthesecondmost
sophisticatedexampleaccordingtoEmpsonandLevi(p.25).However,
Lamonwouldcallthisthemostsophisticatedexample,asithastheleast
amountofcutspossibleeachwholeisnotpartitionedintoninths(Lamon,
2012,p.177).

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2. MultiplicativeCoordination

11 9=11/9=12/9burritosperperson(themostsophisticatedstrategy
shownaccordingtoEmpsonandLevi)

3. Ratio:Factors

11burritos:9peopleor11/9,whereeachpersongets12/9burritos

LesssophisticatedthanMultiplicativeCoordination,butmore

12Childrenwanttoequallyshare3peanutbuttersandwiches,withnoleftovers.
Howmuchwilleachchildhave?(Empson&Levi,2011,p31).

Above,eachpersongetsofawhole,asthereare4piecesperwholeand4
x3givenwholes=12.Thisisenoughforeachpersontogetofapiece.

Thehalfispartitionedintotwelfths;however,itishalfofa
1/24
=6/24+1/24=7/24peanutbuttersandwichesperperson
(asomewhatsophisticatedstrategy).

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

12 3=12 7/2=1/12x7/2=7/24(themostsophisticated
example)
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3. ReasoningupandDown

Child[ren] Sandwich(es)
12 3=7/2
24 7(x2)
1(24) 7/24

MultipleGroupsProblemwithLeveledSolutionExamples(PartII):

Eachlittlecaketakescupoffrosting.IfBetywantstomake20littlecakesfor
aparty,howmuchfrostingwillsheneed?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.56).

1. MultiplicativeCoordination

20x =20/4=5cupsoffrostingneeded(themostsophisticatedexample)

Cup Cakes
1
2/4 2
3
4/4=1 4

Knowingthatittakes1cupforevery4cakes,theunknownamountofcups
isfoundbymultiplying1cupand4cakesby5.5(1cup)=5(4cakes);
therefore,5cups=20cakes.5cupsisneeded(somewhatsophisticated
method).

3. ReasoningUpandDown

Cup(s) Cakes
(x4) 1
1 4(x5)
5 20
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Eachlittlecaketakes2/4cupoffrosting.IfBetywantstomake20littlecakesfor
aparty,howmuchfrostingwillsheneed?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.56).

1. MultiplicativeCoordination

2/4=
20x =10cupsoffrostingneeded(themostsophisticatedexample)

Cup Cakes
2/4==0.5 1
1 2

Knowingthatittakes1cupforevery2cakes,theunknownamountofcups
isfoundbymultiplying1cupand2cakesby10.10(1cup)=10(4cakes);
therefore,10cups=20cakes.10cupsisneeded(somewhatsophisticated
method).

3. ReasoningUpandDown

Cup(s) Cakes
2/4= 1(x20)
10 20

## Description of the Second Interview:

During the second interview, Tommy was more focused on making sense of each

problem. This was especially true for the multiple groups problems, as IDK was not

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writing as an answer by the student. Rather than starting on problems one and two, equal

sharing problems, Tommy skipped to the multiple groups problems. For each question,

Tommy spent approximately four to five minutes per question and during this interview, I

posed questions while the student was initially reasoning his problems. This allowed the

interview to go much smoother and as planned, in which the interview lasted about 20

minutes. Though only explored by the student, fraction manipulatives were made

available, to include: fraction bars and fraction discs (a picture of the fraction discs is

## included in The Childs Work Samples section).

When solving the multiple groups problems, I made sure that I asked Tommy to

explain his reasoning step-by-step. At first, he was frustrated, but when seeing that his

answer did not even make sense when revisiting it, he slowed down and complied. For

example, in question three, Tommy wrote 5=20 mini cakes. He knew that 5 cups were

## 4 = 3 x 4 = 4 x 4= 5 or 20- cups. When asked, How does this make sense?,

Tommy explained that x 4 = a whole and showed how this process (1/4 x 4) needs to

be carried out 5 times because 4 x 5 = 20. Though not changed in his written response,

Tommy was able to orally self-correct his mathematical reasoning. To help Tommy

to the facts in the question? In response, he spiraled back to the vocabulary work each

and explained how is the amount per group that has to be multiplied by the number of

cakes Bety wants while 5 cups, the answer, represents the total amount of frosting Bety

needs.

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When solving question four, Tommys confidence increased. Before writing

anything down, he stated, Its 10! Its one little upgrade to survive the full invasion

its a Mind Craft thing, Ms. Brown. Though adding a video spin to his answer, he

showed signs of thinking proportionally. When asking the student, How can your

## answer be represented as an equation?, Tommy wrote 2/4 x 20 = 10 and explained

that in his mind, he knew that each cake takes 2/4 or cups, so in order to find enough

cups for 20 cakes, he multiplied 2/4 by 20- the same as cutting 20 in half. When

encouraging him to draw it out, Tommy drew what 2/4 looks like. He then went back and

saw that 2 halves makes a whole and proceeds to whisper count his 20 halves to get his

10 cups (Additive Coordination: Sharing One Item at a Time shown because each of the

## 20 halves were counted out).

After solving what Tommy knew to be the more difficult problems for him,

problems one and two were then solved. From question one, 1/2 was written. I asked

Tommy to explain; however, I could she the beginnings of frustration, so I let him pause

and go to the next question. Here, Tommy was challenged by the two-digit numbers

representing the amount per group mixed with a fraction for the total number. When

## asked, What pattern do you see?, Tommy responded by shouting, one-third. He

continued by saying, 1/3, so it would be 1,2,3; 1,2,3; 1,2,3? To help Tommy see that

fourths are needed to divide the whole number, 3, equally amongst the 12 people, I asked,

What about the in the 3 ? He thought about it and drew out 12 wholes with

partitioned thirds. Opposed to having the student start over and partition the sandwiches,

I asked, How can you show the 3 peanut butter sandwiches? Tommy made a group

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for every 3 - (1/3 pieces)/partitioned wholes and found that he had partitioned enough to

## make 4 sandwiches. Tommy labeled the last group 3 opposed to 4 on purpose, as he

started to act silly. In this event, the session ended; however, many next steps were noted.

AnalysisoftheChildsMathematicalThinkingDuringtheSecondInterview:

## understanding and proportional reasoning is found. Specifically, in questions three and

four from the second interview, the student was able to use multiplicative coordination.

This is the highest level of thinking (Empson & Levi, 2011, 25). This too is a big

conceptual leap, as initially, Tommy was unable to get past the given fraction, as it could

not be manipulated in order to solve the problem. Subsequently, initial multiple group

problems had to be revised on the spot. When asked to explain his work, Tommy too

demonstrated Additive Coordination: Sharing Groups at a Time (p. 25). Here, picture and

number pattern patterns were identified, allowing Tommy to group and combine his work

## to reason up and down to get his final multiple groups answers.

From the initial to the second interview, the conceptual leap shown for multiple

groups was not shown in the analyzed equal sharing problems. Tommy showed fluency

with one digit numbers being the value of the amount per group and total. However, two-

digit numbers for the same values were more difficult for him to solve. Tommy moved

## from using multiplicative coordination, a sophisticated strategy, in the initial interview to

using Non-Anticipatory Sharing and boarder line Additive Coordination: Sharing One

Item at a Time strategies (p. 25). In Tommys written response, Tommy partitioned his 12

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wholes, representing the 12 people, in thirds, and it is when If it is half, split the half

up into thirds is stated, confusion about partitioning is shown in interview two. Not

knowing to split the half in the 3 (question four, interview two) shows that he is

guessing that everything must be split into thirds. For question three (from interview

## two), Tommys strategy is unknown, as 9 friends: 11 burritos is not equivalent to 1/2;

however, a possible Ratios: Factors attempt was made according to Empson and Levi (p.

## With Tommys shown abilities, I am wondering if his gaps have something to do

with his level of confidence and/or inability to focus for long periods of time. I took am

wondering if Tommy is now about to spiral back and reason through the initial multiple

groups problem that did not contain a unit fraction as its amount per group value.

## Multiple Groups: Multiplication problems (p. 51). If a third interview had to be

conducted, I would have Tommy solve some Multiple Groups: Measurement Division

problems like problem four in the initial interview, as Multiple Groups: Multiplication

was honed in on for the second interview, in which Tommy had to find the total opposed

to the number of groups. Observing Tommys abilities when solving Multiple Groups:

## Measurement Division problems would be an interesting thing to learn about, as his

inability to solve question four in the initial interview most likely due to the fraction not

## be a common or unit fraction. If changed to one, I wonder if Tommy would be able to

find the unknown number of groups and increase in his conceptual understanding, as seen

when solving the two Multiple Groups: Multiplication problems in the second interview.

## Suggestions for Next Steps:

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To help strength Tommys mathematical reasoning skills, he will be encouraged

more to use the manipultives. With this tool, he will less likely distort his pictures, as in

question four from interview two. Subsequently, he will be able to more clearly think

proportionally. Also, more practice with equal sharing problems with two-digit totals and

number of groups will greatly benefit Tommy along with more multiple group problems,

in general (multiplication and measurement division), without the use of unit fractions

would to assist Tommy in sharpening his reasoning skills based on my findings. At this

time, more practice of the above concepts is needed, as he needs to be more fluent and

## consistent in his reasoning abilities before moving on to another type of problem. As a

result, more exposure to various strategies is needed opposed to exposure to new types of

problems.

## In this study, I learned a lot about myself as a teacher. By questioning and

challenging Tommys thinking, he was able to discover some of his mistakes and make

self-corrections to find and sometimes come close to finding the correct answer.

However, it was not only about having the student find the correct answer, but helping

him understand the why- what each piece represents and why certain strategies are

used. Often times, during focus lessons, I find myself explicitly modeling content.

However, during this assessment process, I found that it is okay for students to explore

and manipulate content on their own, as with the right, guiding questions, students have

the ability to manipulate and understand content on their own. Sometimes, its good to be

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the facilitator, as I have found, more student knowledge is observed than giving a

multiple choice pre-test to access what students may or may not know.

## If I were to conduct this interview again, I would interview my high performing

students. Seeing what they know will allow me to provide more tailored in-class

problems to help all students excel opposed to only focusing on how to improve and

sharpen current grade level skills. With more exposure to challenging problems, students

will be able to make more connections in math and real-life. Ultimately, their knowledge

will transpire over into flexible groups, as they will not only benefit themselves, but they

too will help their peers make deeper and more meaning connections to content. As a

result, everyone will increase their conceptual knowledge at a faster rate, as ongoing

instruction and questioning will not only teacher led, but student led as well.

References:

Emperson, S.B., & Levi, L. (2011). Extending childrens mathematics: Fractions and

## decimals. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lamon, S.J. (2011). Teaching fractions and ratios for understanding: Essential content

knowledge and instructional strategies for teachers (3rd ed.). New York:

Routledge.