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Topic: fractions, technology
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jun 21, 1995 6:03 PM

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Ed Dickey

Posts: 11
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: fractions, technology
Posted: Jun 21, 1995 6:03 PM
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Katherine G. Harris said
(stuff deleted)
> I firmly believe that children
>must be able to manipulate fractions in order to progress
>beyond whole number arithmetic!

(more stuff deleted including interesting observations and questions)

I want to challenge your belief. In France, students do not manipulate
fractions until around 7th or 8th grade. Prior to that they do a lot of
work with fractional quantities using decimals connected to measurements.

In the 2nd International Mathematics Study, all US and French teachers
reported that their students had had the opportunity to learn 2/5 + 3/8
during the 8th. At the beginning of the 8th grade, 42% of US students and
5% of French students were able to select the correct answer to this
problem from five alternatives. At the end of the 8th grade, 59% of US
students and 73% of French students got it right.

I think students can and do progress beyond whole number arithmetic
independent of fraction manipulation. I think the algorithms are
complicated and difficult to remember for many students. We teach them,
they forget them, we teach them again, they forget them, again,... .
Learning fractional arithmetic, I believe, is helped by maturity and
intensive study. Certainly, if the US adopted the metric system, we could
delay covering fractions as the French do. Regardless, I think it might be
better instructionally to stress fraction concepts in elementary grades,
stress decimal arithmetic next, and save fraction manipulation to later

I'll try to respond to your technology question later.

Ed Dickey.

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