Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Backwards Zorro

Are you teaching your kiddos how to solve fraction of a group problems? My co-worker came up with a fabulous name for the tried and true strategy that we probably all use: The Backwards Zorro! It's visual and fun to say and it really seemed to stick in the minds of the kiddos. Here's how it works:
Starting at the bottom, draw a line from the 4 to the 24 (4 goes into 24 six times). Draw the line to the 3 (six times three is 18). Draw the top line and write the answer. Presto!

19 comments:

  1. One of my students called it Ping Pong. We went with that!

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  2. I like! Thanks! Easy to explain too!

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  3. But does this actually teach the students WHY it works? That the word OF means to multiply, and that you can use cross factors to simplify before multiplication? Shortcuts are great... but only AFTER there is a strong understanding of the process! I think we do a dis-service to our students if we teach them an 'easy way out' of learning the concept of fraction operations.

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  4. Different Anon here. I think it does explain it. Once you have established fractions as part over whole. The first step says how many are in each part when your whole is 24. (6) The second part says you want three of those parts (3 groups of 6 which is 18). I like this trick because it helps kiddos (with a littl esupport) think about the math behind the process.

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  5. Anon 1: I totally agree that students should understand the WHY of mathematical procedures. I think, just as with any tool, it depends on how the teacher presents it (As Anon 2 pointed out). What I didn't blog about were the two previous lessons in which students actually divided themselves into thirds, fourths, and sixths. They then drew pictures representing fractions and learned through the pictures how to find one-sixth (or whatever) of a number, and also two or more fractional parts of a number. The "shortcut" was reserved until after we had thoroughly gone through the "basics."

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  6. anonymous, if I was taught how to do fractions this way in school I might have learned it. I can multiply and divide, add and subtract but never understood fractions. No maybe I can help my daughter with fractions.

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  7. I saw this on Pinterest, and just love it. I teach remedial college math, and anyway I can get them to learn is great. Yes, we go over and over that "of" means multiply, but sometimes we just need the trick, especially if you are a freshman in college!

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  8. I couldn't find a way to contact you, but what would you think if I reposted this idea on my math blog but featured your blog and a backlink to it? Let me know. You can find my contact info on my blog:
    http://gofigurewithscipi.blogspot.com/

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  9. Thanks, Scipi! I'd be honored for you to repost on your blog, and I'm your newest follower!

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  10. Math teacher here - tricks work for the moment but when kids get to higher maths, you realize that those tricks screwed them. They do not understand harder concepts because they never truly understood the easy ones, like fractions. If you want your kid to learn, don't do these "trucks.". Truly doing the kid an injustice.

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  11. Anonymous, Please see comment #5. I would agree with you if this was the only way I'd taught it, but this was the culminating activity.

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  12. Sometimes "understanding" needs to be put aside for being able to do it. Sometimes after memorization comes understanding. As a high school math teacher there were many things I could mathematically do, but it was when I had to use them later that I understood.

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  13. I have NEVER been good at math. Having a shortcut to get the right answer first, and not being frustrated so that I couldn't "grasp" the lesson would have been so much better. Build confidence, then explain the HOWS and WHYS. I'm not a teacher, just always hated math. Thank you for showing me this short cut. Making a subject fun and associating to real life makes learning and comprehending so much better and more likely to be remembered.

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  14. I do fractions in my head and use them daily. I think this is weird and confusing.

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  15. Just found this on Pinterest! So glad I did! Yay! This is great!!

    I love finding other 4th grade bloggers!!

    Amanda
    Collaboration Cuties

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  16. Gosh....so many thoughtful ways this could be approached rather than resorting to a trick. How can we split 24 into 4 equal groups? How many would be in three of those groups? Or...what's 1/2 of 24? So, our answer has to be more than what? Tricks are never ok to teach kids. If we only teach tricks and steps, we are missing the boat.

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  17. why does every one see this is a trick? It's not! 3/4 of 24 is and always will be (24/4) x 3. Just like 2/3 of 12 is (12/3) x 2. Why bother with any other way of figuring it out? I've received As in all of my math classes, including college level CALC. I always figured fractions this way, and still do to this day.

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  18. I agree with Mom2Coy! It does explain it! It simply does it 'visually'. I am VERY math-minded and at 36 years old this is how I have always done it (without the super cool Backwards Zorro name...stellar addition ;) ) And I remember the EXACT day in jr high when our substitute teacher told me that although I got the answer right using this method...it was wrong. No...it isn't. It just isn't the way YOU do it. It is VERY right for some of us...and in no way hinders our ability to 'understand' fractions.

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