PRACTICE POST

WHAT ARE CONCEPT SORTS?
A concept sort is a strategy where students sort objects, pictures, and words into categories by an attribute they share.  The teacher can either provide the categories ahead of time or invite students to create their own.  The purpose of this strategy is for students to build vocabulary skills, develop critical-thinking and communication skills, and understand the concept of sorting.  This strategy can be implemented whole group, small group, with partners, or independently.  In addition, it can be used as a formative assessment to determine prior knowledge or to check for understanding.

Concept sorts are different from word sorts in reading because they are not limited to words and pictures organized by patterns and sounds.  Concept sorts can incorporate objects too.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO USING THEM WHEN TEACHING MATH?
There are many benefits to using concept sorts to teach math  
  • supplies students with rich opportunities to practice and discuss vocabulary
  • contributes to stronger critical thinking skills among students
  • provides students the opportunity to strengthen communication skills
  • strengthens students’ sorting skills, which is a mathematical process
  • prepares students for related content by lessening the load of learning new vocabulary in tandem to new concepts and skills
  • gives feedback to teachers about students’ prior knowledge and current level of understanding
OPEN SORTS vs CLOSED SORTS

OPEN SORT 
An open sort is when students create their own categories.  The teacher only gives students the objects, pictures, or words they need.

CLOSED SORT
A closed sort is when the students are given the categories.  The students need to decide which category the objects, pictures, or words go in.

IDEAS FOR USING CONCEPT SORTS
Concept sorts can be used as a formative tool to assess background knowledge and to check for understanding.  In addition, they can be used as an instructional tool to make predictions about a topic or concept, activate schema, connect ideas, and encourage discussion between students.

TIPS AND STRATEGIES FOR USING CONCEPT SORTS IN MATH
  1. Encourage students to support their reasoning for categorizing and sorting.
  2. Have students collaborate either during or after the experience.
  3. Celebrate all of the different ways that students sorted and emphasize that there is no one right answer.
  4. Model and go through a gradual release so the students understand the routine.
  5. Circulate and support students by asking guiding questions.







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