Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three Bean Salad

Purpose: This logic activity can be used to help learners work in a visual, concrete way with multiplication, fractions and percentages.

Prep Time: The first time you do the activity, allow time to go through the worksheet yourself.

Materials: dried lima beans, red beans and black-eyed peas; copies of the worksheet

Prep: assemble dried beans needed; plan to give each student, or pair of students, about 10 of each kind of bean


1) If you want students to work in pairs, ask them to find a partner.

2) Give each student or pair a set of beans.

I do it:

3) Using the beans, pre-teach the following vocabulary from the worksheet. Refer to the worksheet to see how the vocabulary is used in the various “recipes”. Model, using beans, then have the students demonstrate comprehension by configuring their sets of beans.

twice as many

half (1/2) as many

half (1/2) or half (1/2) of


¼ of

3 times as many

5 more _____than _____

4) Hand out the worksheet and ask a student to read #1 aloud. Talk through your logic as you figure out the recipe. If necessary, do several of the problems this way.

We do it:

5) Ask students to join you in figuring out several more. Ask them to explain their logic.

You do it:

6) Once students understand how the activity works, ask them to work on their own, alone or in pairs. Once they feel they have the correct answer, they check with the tutor/teacher or with another pair. The teacher or tutor can circulate and assist as needed.


  • Students could re-write the recipes, converting fractions to percentages.
  • Students write their own recipes and challenge other students to solve them.

Thanks to Jennifer Boe Mesojedec, teacher, Minnesota Correctional Facility at Moose Lake, for sharing her worksheet and activity idea.

Techniques for Classroom Volunteers: How to "Float"

Assisting in a classroom involves many different types of activities. One of these is “floating”, or moving around and helping students while they are working independently.

First, ask the teacher you are assisting what the focus of the lesson is. If you know what the objectives are, you can concentrate on those as you circulate and assist students. The teacher may ask you to monitor for student progress in:

· a particular aspect of pronunciation (word stress, the “s” sound at the ends of words, etc.)

· accuracy in a particular point of grammar

· reading comprehension

· comprehension of activity directions

Follow these steps, once you have clarified your focus:

1) Circulate around the room.

Observe students as you circulate, noting if their understanding/language use is accurate (according to focus). Ask students to show you their work and explain it to you.

2) Assist.

Give hints. Don’t correct an error or give a student an answer immediately – facilitate the detection and correction of their own errors and/or help them find the answer themselves. For example:

  • ask the student to go back and look at the reading again
  • on a page with 8 questions, where 2 are incorrect, ask the student to look at those again
  • ask the student why he/she chose that answer
  • go over the instructions again and, if necessary, do an example together

3) Don’t linger.

Assist a student with a couple questions/corrections/clarifications/etc., and then move on. After helping a student with a couple of problems, they should be ready to try again on their own. Encourage the student to continue with the rest of the activity, and tell them you’ll return to check on them.

4) Continue to circulate, so that you can help as many students as possible.