Sunday, February 27, 2011

Need Some Blogger Wisdom on Fractions

To me, fractions is the most difficult math concept to teach in the intermediate grades. I thought it was the most difficult standard when I taught fifth grade and in third grade I find it even harder.

I am not going to lie, I think our standards on fractions in this state are not developmentally appropriate for third grade, but I have to teach them any way. My third graders have to compare and order fractions with unlike denominators, find fractional sets of whole numbers, and solve problems involving fractions with unlike denominators (they're supposed to reason through this, not convert fractions yet).

Now, it was hard for me last year and my class was soooo much easier to teach. People, I am scared to attempt these difficult concepts with these difficult kids. I can tell you right now, the curriculum alone will not be sufficient to teach this group of kids--it will go right over their heads! So, does anyone have advice, tips, tricks, maybe prayers for teaching these fraction concepts to a really low group including many students with learning disabilities? Please, if you do, help me, I need it!


Ricochet said...

Try this: Numerator (top) is how many you have. Denominator is how many there are.

I will look for some pages on the web that I think will help you.

Ricochet said...

Check out fractions in these interactive notebooks.

Ricochet said...

The other ones used to open - now they don't. This one has fractions starting at image 22.

Literacy Teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Literacy Teacher said...

I am reposting the link.. part of it was cut off... OPPS!

I love this website. Hope it helps!

Lsquared said...

The rational number project has a bunch of lessons you might find useful. They all use fraction circles, though. There's a printable of fraction circles to cut out, but that's a lot of cutting. You might find some of their stuff useful.

So far as ordering fractions goes, I suggest making sure that students can

1. order fractions with the same denominator,

2. order fractions with the same numerator and different denominators. Make sure you have some sort of visual or manipulative for this part. You may want to copy some fraction bars or fraction strips since those are way faster to cut than fraction circles. Cut out each row of fraction bars and then fold them to show the fractions, so if you want to show 2/5, you get out the bar with 5 fifths, and you fold it so that only 2 of the fifths are showing.

3. Have students practice figuring out whether fractions are greater than or less than 1/2.

Those are the 3 pieces, in that order, that are probably doable for most students without knowing how to find a common denominator.

Fractions of a whole number are essentially found by dividing, but I think that making that connection (between fractions and dividing) is kind of tricky. I like to do these with manipulatives first. For this you need the fraction manipulatives the children are most used to and some counters. So, if the problem is finding 1/3 of 18, you take out all of the thirds (so, maybe you have a sheet of paper with a circle cut into thirds, or you take out your fraction strip with thirds on it, or you take 3 fraction circle thirds and put them together into a circle). Then deal out the counters like you would with a (partitive) division problem either on top of or next to each of the 3 thirds. Then 1/3 of 18 is the number of counters next to one of the thirds. From there, of course, you need to make the connection to dividing by 3, so children can use whatever division strategies they know best.

It sounds like you're expected to do a lot with third grade students! As general advice, I'd say that the students will be better prepared if they know some basic strategies well than if they know a lot of more complicated strategies but only know them half-way. The fourth grade teachers are almost certainly going to have to reteach most of this stuff to the students next year, but if there are some basic pieces that the children know well enough that they don't have to relearn them, they'll do better than if it's all a confused mess. It sounds very ambitious, so I hope you celebrate the small successes, and don't get dragged down too much by the pieces that are beyond reach. Good luck. I hope some of these resources give you good ideas.

froggycupcakes said...

Wow, I can't believe the kids have to do so much with fractions so early!

I teach 4th grade and use cross multiplication to compare fractions. Have you used that before?

Do you have access to manipulatives?