CLIx Maths: Proportional Reasoning with Dharavi Students

The CLIx Mathematics team conducted a trial of its first lesson at the BMC Transit Camp School in Dharavi. Dharavi is a large, densely populated low-income settlement in central Mumbai with high economic viability. The BMC Transit Camp School caters to students learning via multiple media of instruction — English, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and Telugu. Given that the language of instruction in the digital prototype of the food packets lesson was English, it was tried with Class 7 students in the English medium school.

The objective of this trial was to understand the students’ notion of additive and multiplicative reasoning, as well as to observe the variety of strategies they use. The participants were 12 girls, divided into 3 groups of 4 students each. The trial was started by introducing the story of Jamuni, a ninth class student in a government school and a daughter of construction workers. The first task was set in a situation of Jamuni going for the school picnic and doing the task of distributing cakes fairly among a group of children and students had to help Jamuni do the task. In the second task, the cakes needed to be distributed among two equal groups. Another task required the cakes to be distributed among two unequal groups. In later units, students would be introduced to situations where Jamuni has to distribute food packets fairly to construction workers.

Students were able to cut and distribute cakes fairly with relative ease but at first had difficulty expressing each share as a fraction. We found that this hurdle could be overcome by sharing fraction chart with students which showed the fraction for each divided part. The team also felt that it must be reinforced that the task is to find the share of each person. Audio recitation of questions could also be helpful since a few students were unable to maintain focus while reading long textual questions. Some students used two people as a unit to figure out the share of a group of six people. This strategy can become a stepping stone for understanding proportions.

Overall, we had a very successful trial of the first lesson and have gained substantial feedback for improving our lessons for future implementation.

(Saurabh Khanna, Research Associate, Mathematics team, CLIx)

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