Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Card Sort Woes

Download the card sort activity here.

I "completed" this card sort with my Algebra 1B students yesterday.  My intention was to give the cards to the students and have them sort the cards, duh.  But it didn't work like that, and I learned another valuable lesson.  I have to model things for the students before they can do them efficiently.

I thought that it would be enough to tell the students to start by putting the cards into four piles, one for each form of a linear equation.  But just saying it isn't enough, I needed to model it.

I never taught this lesson in the past, I would just begin the unit on writing linear equations and if the directions said to write the equation in standard form, well then write the equation in standard form.  But the students never had a chance to practice doing that.  So, I added this lesson into my curriculum and I was right, they didn't know how to do this.  I hate it when I'm right.


  1. When I do sorting activities, I tell them to sort them into piles in whatever way makes sense to them. I think that takes some of the pressure off of them to get the 'right' answer.

    I don't give any hints or confirmations at this point. I walk around and see what their reasoning is first.

    After a few minutes I would say "You should have four groups". So then they have to resort. After a couple minutes, I would then say "You should have four groups of exactly six."

    By this point, everyone usually has correct groups. Last, I would give students the four names and have them try to match it to each group. I would ask for their reasoning and then reveal the right answers.

    This method of sorting works for me 99% of the time.

    I think if you decide to model this lesson, a great way would be to do a think aloud and explain your own thinking as you sort.

    For me, I feel like if I modeled this before having the class do it that I would lose some of their individual reasoning, which is always interesting to hear.

    Whatever you decide to do, I hope you continue to do sorting activities. I love sorting!

  2. Hi, I downloaded your sort. I like it. Did you give the kids the student answer sheet you provided or did you give them labels?

    I print off categories for my students, I have 2 versions of categories .... 1 with just the names (standard form, vertex form,etc) and the other showing what standard form is Ax+By=C). The first time we do the sort I they get the examples to get them started. The next time (or on a review) they get just the names. After a group is finish, then I give them the records sheets to record their answers.

    Thanks for sharing your sort. I had never heard of vertex form for a linear equations. Learn something everyday.