It is quite intimidating for a beginning teacher to be confronted with teaching ratios for the SECOND time! why second? well, to become a math teacher we hope you understood the concept well prior to teaching it and may be even excited to teach it the FIRST time! so you get your puzzles and your website and your ipads and your powerpoints and you walk in to the first year 8 class….. and you walk out. It can be heartbreaking for such a simple concept and for it to be such a disaster. Then you realise you will have to reteach SECOND time.
There are many reasons why students do not understand ratios. My theory is they don’t have a firm grasp of Number, but especially Multiplication and Division. Second is visualisation and real life adaptation of this can be quite intrinsic like baking a cake: I need two cups of flour and one cup sugar for a recipe for 5 people, how many cups of flour do I need for 20? And you’re surprised they get it. Put a colon and a few decimals and there is a meltdown in the room.
Research suggests teachers ought to blend explicit teaching with student centered learning but for ratios it is soo tricky to get the right balance for each group of learners. I can’t tell you which way to go, its like baking a cake! You will find the right recipe for the right group soon enough.
The second issue which is a major one I and the Australian educational system really think it is vital for students to not leave high school without the basic knowledge of Ratios. However, I guess they realised students who did not understand it in the lower years need to repeat it in senior years and thus becomes the challenge.
Do you use your notes from year 8 to teach again the same concept to year 12?
Hopefully not! These notes can humiliate the students and disengage them as they realise they are learning a concept their peers in lower grades have mastered. I tried to use real life scenarios where possible.
Here are some methods (although they are not flashy) that work really well with middle to lower ability students in senior years.