sssh, our students are trying to tell us something

Chaotic, cacophonous, raucous, lively, spirited, loud, energetic, full of beans, demanding, and too loud are all words that have been used to describe my classes over the course of my career. I have also heard irreverent (not disrespectful), confrontational (willing to challenge the status quo), and demanding (using their voices when things ain’t right) too, but that has been mostly in a positive light. To be truthful I have really come to appreciate their ebullience and passion when it comes to occupying their learning spaces. After all, it’s theirs. We just get to work within it.

Until this year, there has been one word not heard describing my homeroom though – quiet. Perhaps it is because we are only 4 weeks into the new year or that this group is still trying to figure out their new teacher (good luck to them) or that I have been blessed with a room that is 80 percent filled with phlegmatic and introverted personality types. Needless to say, the silence has been a bit deafening because this group is q-u-i-e-t.

What’s that you ask? How can a group of 6th graders possibly be quiet? I know, right? Yet, here we are about to take off on a little thought flight.

This year has me thinking about the approaches I am taking with this clearly unique grouping of oddly quiet scholars. Will it last? Am I jinxing myself by the mere mention of their tranquil behaviour? Is this what teaching is going to look like going forward in the post pandemic era of constant connectivity? After all, this group was in grade 2, just learning to fly, when they were grounded for nearly 3 years. How come there seems to be fewer relentless participants than in years past?

Do I need to build more quiet, reflective, and self-directed time into my day? Could this finally be the group that will meditate with me? Do our discussions need to be in smaller groups so those reticent voices have a chance to be heard? How do I honour the A-types because every classroom needs them too?

I started browsing about and found a line that encapsulates what I am seeing right now.

“Behind silent people there is an incredible thinking machine working.” ~Tina Panossian

I know that my quieter learners are working hard. I know that they are figuring things out on the inside rather than where it can be seen. For whatever reasons they choose to work this way, I will do everything possible to make them feel safe, feel seen, and know they are intelligent.

Here’s what has worked so far; the use of no hands participation, peer to peer discussions, and small group conversations. Each of these have helped me ascertain the information necessary to know when we are in full flight to our desired destination or whether we have lost all engines and are bracing for a rough landing somewhere uncharted. Either way, we are on this journey together. Perhaps this group prefers to plug in the headphones and read rather than talk with the folx sitting in their row?

Yet, despite not having much turbulence I think that there is still a lot of work to come in order to chart the best course in navigating this unique group. The world needs introverts. The world needs deep thinkers. It is in these two truths that I get really excited thinking about what can happen if the right conditions get created to give them all flight. All I know now is that there is a chance to build something new into my instructional spaces that might be a benefit to every learner. 

I think an update post will be forthcoming in December. 

Thank you for reading and reflecting with me. Please keep the conversation going in the comments.

Student-led end of the year conferences

As we wind down towards the final report cards, I find myself wondering how I will be organizing my yearly student-led conferences. Each year on June 1st (or the first school day in June), I met with students one on one to discuss their upcoming final report. This gives students time to ask questions that relate to their final report. This year, I was wondering how I could run these conferences as a remote teacher (and having never met these students). I decided to use a sign up sheet with five minute intervals and then use breakout rooms for my interview spaces.

To introduce this activity, I told students that they would have the opportunity to ask questions about their upcoming report and to work towards improving some of their learning skills or doing some extra assignments to add to their lower marks. This is how the interviews with my grade sevens went:

  • Students created multiple questions to guide the interview such as:
    • What is my best learning skill?
    • What is a subject I should look for an extension in?
    • How can I bump up my math mark?
    • What subject should I look to participate the most in?
    • Am I lower than the class average in any subject?
    • Can I add to my grades in certain subjects or is it too late?
    • Are there any next steps you have for me?
    • How am I doing in health?
  • Students were given a personalized action plan which we worked together on, to come up with additional tasks that they could complete to improve their marks/ learning skills
  • Students were beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to bump up their lower marks
  • Students that had been idle for a while came to life!

All 30 student interviews took place yesterday. I emailed families to make them aware that their child had an interview on MS Teams and that they would have an opportunity to bump up their marks in time for their final reports. Parents were thankful for the opportunity and mentioned that they would encourage their child to work on these activities.

Today (the day after the interviews) I noticed a few students that had been silent for the past few months were starting to participate again. One student even led the discussions today in history, science and math. This is something that occurred as a result of a little encouragement and a private five minute discussion. Having students actively interested in their learning and the outcome is so important, especially in remote learning.

Student led interviews and feedback sessions are something that I was taught in my first placement as a teacher candidate. My associate teacher called over a student one at a time and let them see their “lower” mark and encouraged them to bump them up. It didn’t work for everyone but for some students, I noticed it gave them the extra drive and determination to finish the year on a positive note.

I know that it is already June but I wanted to make sure that students are not surprised when their reports come. I tried doing this in May in the past but I find June works best as reports are around the corner and students are looking to showcase their learning a few final times. I am so excited to get to some fun activities this month but I know these interviews can get students to really care about their final reports. This turns it into a working document rather than a piece of paper that students never care to read. They are proud to show their parents their areas of improvement and their marks rather than throwing it in the nearest garbage.

It is still early in June so you could try it out in your class and see how it works! Not everyone cares about their “marks” but for those that do, this is a powerful tool to motivate them even a little bit further.

Happy June everyone and enjoy your weekends 🙂

Going Gradeless in Elementary – Part 2

In my last post, I shared a little about the work that we’ve been doing in our classroom about taking a position and being able to effectively argue. Students have been learning to write argumentative essays and the importance of making sure that they offer supporting details to back up their positions. In this post, I will be sharing insights from students who believe that grades should be eliminated in Elementary schools. 

No to Grades

“Grades do not always show what a student is capable of.”

As the student read this essay, it brought tears to my eyes. It’s the end of May and if we haven’t already done them, we know that class placements are going to be underway very soon. During these placements, students are often reduced to the level given by their current teacher and it’s something that is passed on to the next. 

While sharing her experiences in Math, this student stated that there are times that she just doesn’t get the concept but having the opportunity to have someone pull up a chair and explain it has made all the difference to her. She’s capable and sometimes just in need of a little support. The mark on her report card doesn’t always reflect her in her entirety.  For her, specific feedback on what and how she can improve is important. From there, she can make those improvements and it also helps future teachers to see how they too might support her in her learning on an ongoing basis. For her, the learning skills portion of the report card is important because those are the skills that we should be focused on building, because the content will change over time and our access to the content will also evolve. 

“Grades are not good for mental health. They often make you feel stressed, which can lead to anxiety.”

This student shared that it’s stressful being a kid. Their bodies are changing and their brains are changing too. Managing physical and psychological changes, while having to pretend everything is ok at school is hard. Citing not wanting to worry people and the added stress of not being successful in school, because of your grades, is just too much. This student wonders if there are any studies that have gone into the impact that the stress of grades has on students. They were pretty interested in learning about the education system in Finland and wondered why more countries haven’t taken a similar approach to have a later start at school, more recess, and a lightened load with homework. 

As I read these essays, I realized just how much of an impact the pandemic has had on my students. While they’re on every day and handing in their assignments on time and with care, it really hasn’t been easy. Many are concerned about whether or not we will go back to in-person learning this year and what their transition to middle school will be like. Without answers, they’re left to wonder and that’s producing a significant amount of stress and anxiety on young people who we keep congratulating for their resilience. 

“Teacher comments, on the other hand, can help parents and students, by telling them how well a student is doing in class.”

It’s interesting how many students spoke about receiving quality feedback and opportunities to implement the feedback. Having feedback on a report card is great but it is also seen as somewhat final. Not until the next one, do they have the opportunity to see a change unless the feedback is ongoing. My students are also looking for honest feedback. Many have said that on report cards they have gotten Cs and when they have read the comments, they sound as though they met with success and yet for them, they know that it is still approaching success. 

This comment also speaks to the relationship between home and school and making sure that parents know how their child is doing along the way. For many, they said that they see the school year as a journey in learning and that to them, marks are somewhat final. They want and need to know how they are doing; how they are improving; and what still needs to be improved upon. 

The debate continues on the idea of going gradeless in Elementary. Even the students are divided in their opinions but it’s clear that the current system isn’t working effectively for all. We’ve heard a lot of talk of “reimagining”. Assessment and evaluation is just one area in education that needs further inspection and action for change. I’m hoping that we can move past the talk and into action.

Going Gradeless in Elementary – Part 1

As a class this past month, we have been learning about arguments and how to effectively write an argumentative essay.  From debating the importance of a digital detox to the role of social media in our lives, we’ve enjoyed arguing our positions on a variety of topics; understanding the importance of having supporting details to back up our positions. 

For one of our essays, students reflected on the idea of going gradeless in Elementary. After reading a couple of articles and watching a few videos, students were finally ready to pick their positions and set about organizing their ideas for their essays. Using a persuasion map, students reflected on the information presented and their own thoughts, ideas and experiences, and considered their 3 best reasons for their position. Once finished, they set about writing their essays and I was incredibly surprised by their positions. Many students actually supported the idea of keeping grades but suggested changes that should be made to render the grading system more effective. 

In this post, I will be sharing some of the insights of the students who believe that we should continue with grades in Elementary. In part 2, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the arguments from the other position. Hold on to your hats, these students had some incredible reasons either for or against our current grading system. 

Yes to Grades!

“Good grades lead to scholarships and opportunities for post secondary education.” 

When I hear young students – I teach 10- and 11-year-olds – talking about scholarships and post-secondary education, it always blows my mind. I think that there was always an expectation for me to go to University but I don’t think that I started to worry about grades until I was in Grade 10. It was then that one of my teachers suggested that I do something other than Sciences as I “wasn’t good at them”. I think it was at that moment that I decided that I was going to be a Scientist and I started paying attention to my grades and considering what courses I needed to take in order to prove that teacher wrong. 

While I know that the idea of “success” is drilled into us at an early age, it’s remarkable that these students are already equating their worth or their future employment outcomes based on grades they are yet to attain. I say yet to attain because I really wonder what marks in Grade 5 mean to students who are in Grade 11 or 12.  Many of my students claim that I am a hard marker and this statement alone suggests that grades have a certain level of subjectivity from one teacher to the next. 

Within this particular essay, the student reminds us that the requirements for entry into post-secondary education or for scholarships are directly related to marks and as such, getting rid of marks would require us to change the acceptance criteria for both. Unless we are willing to change the entire system, getting rid of grades at the Elementary level seems counterproductive. 

“School is a replica of life for youth, as stress and competition are present everywhere in the world. Grades are used to measure a student the same way that income is to an employee.”

The argument of school as a microcosm of the world. Those who succeed in the game of school will succeed in the game of life. If only this were true. While I believe that much of what we experience in our years in the education system certainly has an impact on future outcomes and experiences, there are many people who were not necessarily “good” at the game of school, and who have become quite successful in their own right, in the game of life.

This idea of better grades equating to a better job and in turn more money is one that is held by many of my students. It’s a narrative that they have learned along the way and begs for further inspection. I consider many people who are highly educated and still struggle to find jobs for a variety of reasons. I think of newcomers, those with differing abilities, and those who are racialized and face systemic racism. While these play a role in students’ experiences within school communities, the reality for adults who are newcomers, have differing abilities, and/or are racialized, tends to have different layers of impact. 

Do grades now really determine future success? Is managing the stress of grades equal to managing the stress of a job in the future? My students tend to think so. 

“Accountability. If you know you are getting marked you will actually do the work.”

Many students argued that when they are getting marked on something, they actually work harder, which makes me wonder about the intrinsic value of learning. Isn’t that the whole point of school in the first place? To have a desire to learn, rather than a desire to get a gold star? Wait…we do give out gold stars in school too.

During our discussions, students mentioned that if an activity or task was seen as being a practice for an upcoming culminating activity or test, they may not put in as much effort because they know that it’s just practice. On the other hand, for the final task itself, they would be sure to hand in better work because they know that the expectation is higher because this is something that the teacher sees as valuable and worthy of a mark. This made me wonder about my own methods of assessment and evaluation and what I value and in turn have imparted on my students as valuable. How have I contributed to this idea of getting the work done because there is a mark attached to it? Is it more important than the learning along the way?

So there you have it. These are just some of the reasons why my students say that we should keep grades in Elementary. I must admit that even among those who think we should keep grades, there was significant mention of teachers being able to justify the grades through feedback. So even when a grade is attached, feedback is still something that students want. In part 2, I share the other side of this argument.

Both feet

Have you ever jumped into a body of water and been able to stop part way? If you have, can you show me how because to this point of my existence it has been impossible when I try? So far.

Defying all of the laws of Physics may not part of our human skillsets, yet. Perhaps with the aid of some bungee cords and a team of riggers, it is possible, but since most times when we take a leap(intellectual or otherwise), we do so without a team to save us.

Oddly enough, the leaps are often contrary to conventional wisdom and traditional thinking/practice. Society loves its non-conformists. As long as there are not non-comforming in their schools. Is it therefore heresy, innovation, boredom with the status quo, egotism, creativity in action, insight or indictment to break the status quo, take chances, or challenge authority/colleagues? Where does it fit in with your practice and pedagogy?

With or without a safety crew, I have always jumped into something with both feet. Knowing there is no way to stop once I’m in the air. Yes, I’ve climbed out and jumped somewhere else when the landing hurt. No, I did not land on anyone either.

Sometimes, I bounced out, unable to fit in with a particular ideology or methodology. What never changes as I try and stretch, and a leap and fall, and land/crash, is the need to keep looking for new places from which to jump with all the excitement and uncertainty that leaping, change and learning provide. A sort of educational thrill seeking if you will.

This is how I see my teaching style and I’m inviting other educators to step out onto the dock and take some leaps of their own. So often, the risk taker in all of us has been hushed by comfort, complacency, or fear. Trying new things is hard. What if no one likes it? What if I fail? How are your students supposed to take chances when you are clothed in bubble wrap yourself.

Our classrooms have to be shaped into an ultra-soft space for students to take their intellectual and emotional leaps with both feet without worrying about the landing or bouncing off the walls from time to time. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel a thud once in a while. It means that they will have a place to discover the limitless potential of their learning not the limit.

How do you see yours? When was the last time you felt free and safe enough to jump in with both feet not knowing how deep the waters?

How did  it feel?
Dangerous? Perhaps.
Exhillarating? Always.
Always successful? Not yet.
Staying put? Never!

We owe it to our students to show how much there is to gain from trying new things, taking leaps into new spaces, and from thinking about how, when, and where we are going to land.

Over the next month, I challenge you to try something new in your classroom and share it with us.
Tag me on Twitter @willgourley and try to encourage others to do the same. Thank you for reading and happy landings.

 Extra Reading for keeners

16 Reasons Why You Should get out of Your Comfort Zone

Why Taking Risks Pays off for Students and Teachers

Do-over day

Have you ever wished that you could do something over again to make it better?
In education, this could be everyday, every week, every month, and every year in our classrooms. If we let it.

Have you ever taught a lesson more than once in order to ensure your students understood and could master the concept(s)? What, you’ve done this over and over!? You don’t say?

This happens more often than all of us think and that’s okay. I learnt very quickly in my career that last year’s grand slam lessons do not always guarantee success when used in the years to come. Hence the need for the do-over, or reinvention in order to revive or re-invigorate what we teach.

What about a retest? A few years ago, I completely misread my students’ progress on a Math strand and the results were glaringly obvious that I failed them. After an open discussion about the daunting unit, I had students take their tests, crumple them up, and throw them around the classroom. It was like a giant breath of fresh air had blown into the room as everyone exhaled.

We restarted the unit from ground zero and had a “do-over day” a couple of weeks later with much improved results. As a result, our class grew closer as a learning community. Students knew that I had their best interests at heart and that learning in our class did not come with an expiry date as laid out in dusty long range plans. After all the curriculum says, “by the end of each grade…” and not immediately after an assessment of learning.

Recently, my students were preparing to share a series of movie trailers they created about the book Loser by Jerry Spinelli. Each group, of 2 or 3, was asked to pull key elements from the text and to present them in the form of a live drama or digital version.

After much planning, production, and practice, the big day arrived for everyone to share their work. Not surprisingly, there were a number of interpretations of the text being shared and the trailers were being presented and screened. And then it happened.

Whether it was nerves or a case of over-preparation(I think it’s a thing), the majority of presentations shared were not the shiniest outputs from this group. Cue the do-overs. When I suggested this, the students seemed generally wary about it, but I was serious. With some descriptive class feedback, we started over again with much more positive results.

Now think about your classroom? Is there room for the do-over within your walls and halls? Imagine the opportunity to reinforce the idea that failure can still be a positive result when it is used as a stop along the way rather than the final destination to success. I believe that the more we build this into our pedagogy, the more our students will be willing to take chances, make mistakes, and move forward.

Thank you for reading. Please share your “do-over” stories in the comments section below.

The Downside

It’s a wonderful time of the year…ish. However, there are a few downsides.
Starting with the scary winter weather commutes, bone-chilling outdoor supervision at -16C, or the daily loss of at least a half hour of instructional time while students remove their winter wear or gear up for recess. Today I was convinced that a child went out for recess and returned as a snowman. It was touch and go whether we would need a lifeguard on duty once all of the snow the students brought inside began to melt.

Then, there’s the realization, that maybe, just maybe I missed assessing something for my upcoming report cards. That sent a shiver down my spine. In my mind I just wrote report cards a few weeks ago. 10 weeks is a few, right?

The end of January signals the half way mark of our instructional year and things are clicking in the classroom. We have our routines back in place, students have shown a lot of growth since September, and there is a feeling of hope in the air at times. Maybe that’s tied to the temperature rising a few degrees and for the days when the trek between the portapack and the main building does not require a Sherpa or tethering students to a guide rope. With chilly temperatures, indoor recesses, and daylight still getting longer, this time of year can sneak up on your mental health and well being to blind side you when your not expecting it.,_Cascades.JPG#file CC BY-SA 4.0,_Cascades.JPG#file CC BY-SA 4.0

Today, a student was having a bad day. No one saw it coming. I was called into another class to provide support. The student was experiencing an anxiety attack. The entire class was genuinely concerned for them, and offered their support and kind words. Seeing this warmed my heart on a chilly day, but it also screamed about the fragility that exists in our learners. In my opinion, we never get the whole picture of our students lives. Finding time to fit it all in beyond the superficialities is difficult when deadlines and commitments loom.

Although we are in each others’ presence 6+ hours per day, we are often humans doing more so than humans being aware of one another when they are feeling sad, frustrated, or stressed. I am finding it more and more important to let students vent about what is weighing on their minds. Yes, it’s during instructional time, but it is an absolutely integral part of my classroom mental health strategy.

If my students are sharing from their hearts, they will also know they are being heard in a safe and supportive space. If we miss these chances in favour of trudging through the lessons hoping it will just go away, or that the student will get over it in time, then we are at risk of missing our opportunity to help our students when they need us most. There is a downside to this that could lead to depression, disconnection, and despair.

In his 2017 TEDxKitchenerEd Talk, Andrew Campbell shares the reason why he meets his students at the door each day. While watching him share this incredibly personal message, I wondered whether all of the other educators in the theatre wanted to be back at school at that very minute to greet their own students. I know the next day couldn’t come fast enough for me. I wanted to make sure they knew they mattered, that our classroom cared, and that even though we had just started the year, I cared too. It is only through these connections with students that I see any learning made truly possible.

The choice of whether to support, stand still, or dismiss could mean the world of difference to someone who is struggling. Choosing to connect and care over the curriculum at times may be the cure. No downside there.


An easy to use student friendly assessment tool


After meeting my new NTIP mentor the other day, she introduced us new instrumental music teachers to an app called “iDoceo”. I had used this before but had never really gotten into it. Since hearing about it again recently, I have become so attached to it.

iDoceo allows you to assess students quickly on the go on your ipad. The app is free in the HWDSB catalogue and maybe in other boards as well. When commenting on the process or product of a certain student, you can use icons, recordings, comments or other notes. These icons are easy to use and you can copy and paste them. You can then add them to another student’s column with an easy double tap. For instrumental music teachers, this is helpful because you can add a small recording to your student’s file so that you can listen to it again if you missed it the first time.

Students can also always view their marks and I use the icons to record these marks. So if a student wants to see how he/she is doing with “attitude/behaviour/self control” he will view his name and see what icon is beside it. The options are a green smiley for always/level four, a yellow smiley for usually/level 3, an orange smiley for sometimes/level two and a red frown for rarely/level 1. Students have a quick and visual way to view their process or product marks in class. Of course during performances I will still use a rubric for them to take home but for everyday efforts, this app is amazing! I always have students coming up to me asking to view their marks. They are eagerly searching for those green happy faces.

I love the app so much that I have brought it into my 4/5 split class. I use it for their learning skills so especially while they are working in a group, I record their efforts for the day.

I think that children love to know how they are doing and something as simple as a coloured happy face is an easy check for them. Of course it is hard for me to always remember to keep the iPad in my hand but over time I will certainly get used to it.

iDoceo-available on ipads. Check it out!

Who? What? Where?

One of the anchor charts in my classroom states that Reading is… Remembering and Understanding. This is what I use to help students understand that good reading is so much more than word decoding. In my classroom I am often faced with trying to help students who have difficulty in their reading comprehension. They lack the ability to recall what they have just read or their recall is very generic and lacks specific details. I have developed a game to help improve a student’s ability to recall the specifics around characters, main events and setting. This learning task is called Who? What?  Where?

IMG_1794This is a three phase unit. The first step is to model it using a read aloud novel. After each chapter we pause and take a minute to review the characters that were a part of that chapter, what were the main events that occurred in that chapter and finally where did that part of the story take place. I do this for about two or three chapters into the novel. From there we move to a graphic organizer where they now have to answer questions I have created about a chapter after it has been finished. The questions are designed to elicit one or two word answers and thus can fit easily in the boxes on the page. The other purpose for the short answer is to focus on comprehension and not spelling or sentence structure. After each chapter I ask three questions, one of each type. As the chapters progress, the questions become more and more specific and thus a deeper recall gradually begins to occur with my students. The students earn points based on their ability to recall accurate information. For most students this is a motivator by itself.

IMG_1795The final stage of this unit is to transfer the learning that has occurred to an independent reading task they complete. This is called their Book Project. They are able to select a book that meets the following two criteria:

  • It has to be at a level that is just right or challenging for them (teacher approved)
  • It has to be a narrative (thus focusing in on the three elements of a story characters, setting and main events)

From here they now have to read their novel, decide on a way to share their understanding of the story (that best fits their learning style) with their classmates and teacher. It is here during this summative task I find out what gains have been made by students in their reading comprehension as well as finding further gaps that need to be addressed in the upcoming reading lessons. A natural progression that occurs is also the move away from just basic recall and the move to more critical literacy questioning and answering. But as many students have taught me, they need to have well grounded foundation skills prior to moving into higher level thinking skills.



More Than Right or Wrong

“Did I get it right teacher, did I get it right?”. This I am sure you have heard over and over again when it is time for students to take up their work. I can go back to my elementary school years (way too long ago to provide a date for you) and remembering sitting there anticipating getting my paper back so that I could look at the top of the page and see my grade. Red on your paper was not a good thing. Either a smile or a sad expression immediately came across my face and I would be asked to get it signed by my parents, return it to my teacher and move on to my next unit of study.

Good assessment pedagogy now has taught us that the opportunity for learning is in examining the mistakes, looking at what strategies were being used and providing timely feedback that allows a student to learn from their own work. This approach helps facilitate their growth toward those target outcomes.

I have an anchor chart in my room that is used by both my students and by myself when we are looking at the work we have completed. On that chart are three defined types of mistakes that can be made. The first is referred to as ‘Careless Mistakes’ which are characterized by minor mistakes that are made as a result of miscalculations, rushing through work or more typically a student not looking back and checking their work prior to handling it in. When I am conferencing with a student about their work and find these types of mistakes it indicates to me that the student has grasped the key concepts and need feedback/strategies on how to avoid making those types of errors.

The second type of mistake that can be made are ‘Misconceptions’. These are characterized by a student’s understanding of a concept being inaccurate and thus as the student moves forward with his/her thinking, that student is immediately going down a wrong thinking pass that will result in his/her work being wrong. This will lead me to create a mini lesson for that student or a group of students that will help adjust their thinking by clarifying the necessary content to eliminate the misconception(s).

The final type of error is due to a ‘Lack of Knowledge’. In this scenario the student does not have the necessary background knowledge or sub-skills in order to accomplish the task at hand. This immediately indicates the need for me to assess where the student knowledge base lies and backtrack to that point in order to provide him/her with the necessary next step in his/her learning. I find this often is below grade level and thus requires me to modify the content to help that individual gain the necessary knowledge to move his/her learning forward. This scenario occurred just last week in my class as we moved into a unit on fractions. In my diagnostic task it became very clear to me that my students had little or no understanding of what fractions were despite being comfortable with using the word fraction. They could take an apple and split it into two pieces, describe each piece as a half but not quantify what that meant.

By sharing this understanding with my students, it facilitates their participation and role in the learning process. They now have more ownership over their work, over their effort and over their plan on moving forward with their own learning.