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Brown

Math 614

Dr. Salkind

The Child:

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

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

Brown 1

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

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

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

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

Brown 2

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

EqualSharingProblemswithLeveledSolutionExamples(PartI):

3friendswereataMexicanrestaurant.Theywerefeelinghungry,sothey

ordered8burritostoeach.Theywanttosharetheburritosequallyandeat

themall.Howmuchwilleachfriendgettoeat?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.30).

1. AdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItemataTime

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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3. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

1 1

1 1

Fromthe8burritos,itsrecognizedthateachofthe3peoplegets2

burritosbecause2x3=6.Theremaining2burritosaresharedevenly

andsplitintothirds(somewhatsophisticated;inthemiddleofexample

1

and2forsophistication).

3Childrenwanttoequallyshare6peanutbuttersandwiches,withno

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

1. AdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItemataTime

1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2

3 3 3 3

1 2 1 2

3 3

Eachpersonreceives1/3ofapeanutbuttersandwichand1/6pieces

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

sandwichesperpersontheleastsophisticatedmethodshown.

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

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3. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

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. AdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItemataTime

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

Brown 5

InAdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItematTime,15cupsoffrostingis

needed,asgroupsofisdrawnuntil20,representing20cakes,isreached

(theleastsophisticatedstrategy).

2

2.AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsataTime

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).

1. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsataTime

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.

Brown 6

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

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

3. AdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItemataTime

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.

Brown 7

DescriptionoftheInitialInterview:

WhenadministeringthefourquestionstoTommy,eachproblemwassolved

underaminute.ToclearlygaininsightonTommysreasoning,hewastold,Letsgo

backtoquestiononeandasked,Whatistheproblemaskingyoutodo?Inresponse,

Tommyshouted,2reminder2.Duetogivingtheanswertotheproblemopposedtohis

solvinglookfors,orwhatneedstobefoundinordertosolvetheproblem,thequestion

wasrewordedassuch:Whatdoes2remainder2represent?Tommywasthenableto

indicate,Eachpersongets2wholeburritos,butthenthe3friendswouldhavetothumb

wrestleforthelasttwo[burritos].Tommywasstartingtothisproportionallyandto

extendhisthinking,hewasaskedtoshowme/drawoutthe8burritosbeingequally

sharedamongstthe3friends.Here,Tommycompletedsomewhatofapersontoburrito

comparisontable(noformaltableused),showingthateachpersongets2burritos;

howevertheremaining2burritosweredrawnassidewaysovals.Iasked,Howwould

yousharethisburritoswiththreepeople?Tommythensplittheburritosintothirdsto

findthecorrectanswer,22/3burritosperperson;however,whensplittingthelasttwo

burritos,Tommymisnamedthepiecesashalvesinsteadofthirds.Thisnamingerrorwas

selfcorrectedwhenhaveTommycounthispartitionedpiecesandrestatehisfinal

answer.

Forthesecondequalsharingproblem,noquestioningwasneeded.Tommy

correctlydrew,solved,andexplainedhisreasoning.Here,hisproportionalreasoning

increased.Whentransitioningintothemultiplegroupsproblems,nounderstandingwas

Brown 8

evident,asthestudentreadthelasttwoproblemsandshruggedhisshoulders.

Subsequently,TommyeitherwrotedownaguessorIwouldtrythisifIknewhottodo

it.Tohearhisthinking,questionthreewasspiraledbacktoandreadaloudtoTommy.

Ithenasked,If1cakeusescupsoffrosting,howmanycupsareneededtomake20

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

problem,shouldhavedividedhisanswerby4torepresentcuppercakethisnextstep

wasnotseenbythestudent.Whenpresentwiththerevisedquestion,Tommywasableto

quicklysolvetheproblemviamultiplication.ThisprovesthatTommytriestostayinhis

comfortzone,ashecanfluentlymanipulateproblemswithwholenumbers.

AnalysisoftheChildsMathematicalThinkingDuringtheInitialInterview:

Basedontheinitialinterview,IlearnedthatTommyaimstosolveproblemsby

usingmultiplicativecoordination.Heisveryeffectiveinidentifyingthekeywordsand

theircorrespondingoperations;however,thewhyislost.Tommycannotconsistently

explainwhyhisanswerandstrategyareappropriate.Forexample,inthefirstequal

sharinggroupproblem,Tommykneweachofthethreepeoplecouldnthaveathird

Brown 9

burrito,butcouldntindependentlypartitionandnametheremaining2wholes.Itoo

noticedthatTommydemonstratedAdditiveCoordination:SharingOneItemataTime

whenaskedtodrawoutquestiontwo,anequalsharingproblem.Here,hewasanswerto

modelhoweachofthethreechildrengot2wholesandwiches,butfortheremainder,

Tommyknewtomakesixths;however,hishalfofasandwichisnotproportionallydraw

heorallycommunicatedhisanswer.

Fortheequalsharingproblems,IamwonderingaboutTommysperformance

withbiggervalues.Willhebecomefrustratedorremainfluentindemonstratingthe

multiplicativecoordinationstrategywiththebiggervalues?Forthemultiplegroups

problems,Iwanttoreusequestionthree,butwithaunitfractiontorepresenttheamount

pergroup.SinceTommydidnotrecognizethenextstep,dividinghisanswerinquestion

threeandfourwhenthenumeratorwasused,IwonderhowTommywillbeforeifthe

sameproblemisusedtwice.Here,theamountpergroupwillbepresentedasaunit

fractionfollowedbyanequivalentfractiontoacommonfraction,1/2.Maybethis

methodwillhelpsparkaninquisitiveinterestinusingfractions,changingtheamountper

grouponhisownandmakinghimfeelmoreconfidentinsolvingmultiplegroups

opposedtogivingupsoeasily.IwanttoobserveTommysolvingmoremathword

problemstoseewhereadditionalgaps,ifany,exist.Knowingthis,Itailorquestionsto

bemorespecifictohisneedsandassisthiminbuildinghisproportionalreasoningskills

alongwithhisabilitytomanipulaterationalnumbers.

Brown 10

SecondInterviewQuestions:

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.

Brown 11

EqualSharingProblemswithLeveledSolutionExamples:

9friendswereataMexicanrestaurant.Theywerefeelinghungry,sothey

ordered11burritostoeat.Theywanttosharetheburritosequallyandeatthem

all.Howmuchwilleachfriendget?(Empson&Levi,2011,p.30).

1. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

1

X9=9burritosor1burrito/person

=Theremainingpartitionedin

ninths,aseachpersonwillget

2/9ortwoshadedpieces.

Eachpersongets1+2/9burritosor12/9.Theisthesecondmost

sophisticatedexampleaccordingtoEmpsonandLevi(p.25).However,

Lamonwouldcallthisthemostsophisticatedexample,asithastheleast

amountofcutspossibleeachwholeisnotpartitionedintoninths(Lamon,

2012,p.177).

Brown 12

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

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

shownaccordingtoEmpsonandLevi)

3. Ratio:Factors

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

LesssophisticatedthanMultiplicativeCoordination,butmore

sophisticatedthanAdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems.

12Childrenwanttoequallyshare3peanutbuttersandwiches,withnoleftovers.

Howmuchwilleachchildhave?(Empson&Levi,2011,p31).

1. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

Above,eachpersongetsofawhole,asthereare4piecesperwholeand4

x3givenwholes=12.Thisisenoughforeachpersontogetofapiece.

Thehalfispartitionedintotwelfths;however,itishalfofa

whole,soeachpersongetsanadditional1/24piece;+

1/24

=6/24+1/24=7/24peanutbuttersandwichesperperson

(asomewhatsophisticatedstrategy).

2. MultiplicativeCoordination

12 3=12 7/2=1/12x7/2=7/24(themostsophisticated

example)

Brown 13

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)

2. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

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

Brown 14

Eachlittlecaketakes2/4cupoffrosting.IfBetywantstomake20littlecakesfor

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

1. MultiplicativeCoordination

2/4=

20x =10cupsoffrostingneeded(themostsophisticatedexample)

2. AdditiveCoordination:SharingGroupsofItems

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

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

Brown 15

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

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

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

explain each fraction piece, I followed up by asking, How does your answer relate back

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.

Brown 16

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

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

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

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

Brown 17

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

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

AnalysisoftheChildsMathematicalThinkingDuringtheSecondInterview:

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

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

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

Brown 18

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

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

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.

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:

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

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.

Brown 19

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

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

problems.

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

Brown 20

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.

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

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

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

Routledge.

Brown 21

Fraction Discs, as indicated in the Description of the Second Interview section:

Brown 22