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Discussion: Traffic Jam Applet tool
Topic: Fractions, concept and calculations
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/


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Subject:   RE: Fractions, concept and calculations
Author: tackweed
Date: Oct 1 2004
On Sep 30 2004, lanius wrote:

How do you teach conceptual understanding of
> fractions? What tools have you found to be effective, and likewise
> how do you teach computational fluency with fractions and what tools
> are effective?

Here is one of the parts of the puzzle that I have noticed in grade 7:

Fractions are numbers. They can stand for three different, but related, kinds of
things:

    * a part of a whole object, i.e., 1/4 of a pizza  
    * a part of a group, i.e., 1/2 of a class  
    * a part of a part, i.e., 1/2 of 3/4 of a pizza

We seldom take the time to emphasize this point which is a source of
confusion.

A second part is I always try to get students to understand that all proper
fractions are between the numbers 0 and 1 as are all decimal numbers.

The third part is the connection between fractions and decimals.

Another confusion is the lack of clarity in understanding between having an
object divided into 3 equal parts and just 3 parts. Students do not always see
the distinction

So far, I have found no nostrums. I try to keep all of these ideas in mind and
have them presented and discussed before trying to work through the set
algorithms.  

Hopefully this might be a start to defining the problem....

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