Helping my students organize their

thinking and learning in different ways is very important to me. One method I have found to be very

successful is to ask students to take work samples or problem types and sort

them into categories. People who use Words Their Way do this all the time

with students as they look for sound or letter patterns that help them

understand how words are put together.

thinking and learning in different ways is very important to me. One method I have found to be very

successful is to ask students to take work samples or problem types and sort

them into categories. People who use Words Their Way do this all the time

with students as they look for sound or letter patterns that help them

understand how words are put together.

I find concept sorts particularly useful

in math and the content areas as well–and I really believe it helps students

make connections among ideas.

In fact,

two of Marzano’s effective teaching

strategies–cooperative learning and identifying similarities and

differences–are utilized

with

this activity. If research has shown solid evidence that

categorizing and finding similarities and differences works—I’m all for it!

in math and the content areas as well–and I really believe it helps students

make connections among ideas.

In fact,

two of Marzano’s effective teaching

strategies–cooperative learning and identifying similarities and

differences–are utilized

with

this activity. If research has shown solid evidence that

categorizing and finding similarities and differences works—I’m all for it!

Here is how I tend to use these

sorts—although please know that there is no RIGHT way! Get creative and let the students guide you

as you go. Here is one example of a sort

I did with my students. I started by splitting my class into groups of 3. (I like trios for lots of reasons…because it allows for better dialogue, it helps strugglers, and also

sorts—although please know that there is no RIGHT way! Get creative and let the students guide you

as you go. Here is one example of a sort

I did with my students. I started by splitting my class into groups of 3. (I like trios for lots of reasons…because it allows for better dialogue, it helps strugglers, and also

allows for one extra person in case a third person gets pulled out of the group or has to leave for any reason!) For this sort, I gave each group a small piece of bulletin board paper for them to do their sort. They grabbed their sort cards, cut, and started to organize them!

As my students sorted, I simply walked around and eavesdropped! It was a great time to listen for math language, to listen for any misconceptions, and to see who was feeling confident and who was not.

Students begin to question each other, ask questions of each other, and help one another come to higher levels of understanding. My role is simply to be an observer—I really don’t get involved at this point…even if I see errors. Trust me on this!

Check out the order of the headers…that led to a great discussion! |

This sort was a review sort for my

students: They needed to sort the multiplication

students: They needed to sort the multiplication

facts by product. We had great discussions about what the different headers meant and how students could best organize their work.

In fact, many teams put the headings in random order at first; we talked about how the dictionary is arranged in alphabetical order to help us find things easily.

In math we often

put

information in numeric order. Now…it would be plenty easy to have the students stop at this point, but I am

In fact, many teams put the headings in random order at first; we talked about how the dictionary is arranged in alphabetical order to help us find things easily.

In math we often

put

information in numeric order. Now…it would be plenty easy to have the students stop at this point, but I am

working hard with mine on to get them to think more deeply so I had them

also use the blank cards to make some

additional facts

that

would fit in each category. This is a GREAT way to extend each sort—especially for students needing enrichment.

also use the blank cards to make some

additional facts

that

would fit in each category. This is a GREAT way to extend each sort—especially for students needing enrichment.

Some of my students even asked if they could use fractions. I granted permission to one team once they proved they understood what they were doing.

I gave the students a total of 15 minutes

to do this job—and there were a few groups that did not get every card

sorted. That’s okay. If I gave some groups 45 minutes, they may not

have finished! I like to keep things

moving—I even had a visual timer up on my Smartboard so they know how much time they had

left.

to do this job—and there were a few groups that did not get every card

sorted. That’s okay. If I gave some groups 45 minutes, they may not

have finished! I like to keep things

moving—I even had a visual timer up on my Smartboard so they know how much time they had

left.

After time is up, I typically continue the activity with a gallery

walk. Although actually DOING the sort

is a valuable activity, gallery walks can add a whole new level of critique to

the lesson! Each trio can take a post it note and cut it into three

“tags”. They then are allowed to “tag” up to three spots on other groups’ papers

where they felt an error was made. I did not do this gallery walk with

this sort because it was a review sort.

Here is what it would look like! (This is from one of my fraction sorts.)

walk. Although actually DOING the sort

is a valuable activity, gallery walks can add a whole new level of critique to

the lesson! Each trio can take a post it note and cut it into three

“tags”. They then are allowed to “tag” up to three spots on other groups’ papers

where they felt an error was made. I did not do this gallery walk with

this sort because it was a review sort.

Here is what it would look like! (This is from one of my fraction sorts.)

Were we finished?

Not yet! Each group then went

back to their “home base” and looked at the results. They then discussed any “flagged” items and

we went through some of the most challenging ones as a class. The entire activity took us 25 minutes from

start to finish! Are you ready to give

it a try? This new resource includes FIVE different

multiplication

sorts

for you—including the one pictured earlier in this post. From sorting multiplication facts to prime numbers to extended multiplication facts to estimation, this set of sorts should help deepen your students’ understanding of multiplication.

Not yet! Each group then went

back to their “home base” and looked at the results. They then discussed any “flagged” items and

we went through some of the most challenging ones as a class. The entire activity took us 25 minutes from

start to finish! Are you ready to give

it a try? This new resource includes FIVE different

multiplication

sorts

for you—including the one pictured earlier in this post. From sorting multiplication facts to prime numbers to extended multiplication facts to estimation, this set of sorts should help deepen your students’ understanding of multiplication.