Q&A #221

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching dividing fractions

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From: d brumback <brumback@pemtel.net>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003041700:57:34
Subject: dividing pizzas

I think English can add to the confusion of dividing fractions.
Consider these statements:
One quarter of a pizza divided in half.
One quarter of a pizza divided in two.

Thinking only in English, I would cut the pizza the same for both of
these comments. Some people I've posed this question to have argued
that dividing a pizza in two does not imply cutting it into two equal
parts. Whereas, dividing it in half does imply cutting the pizza into
two equal parts. But, that really misses the point that dividing
something in half is very different than dividing it in two from a
mathematical point of view.
I would have trouble justifying writing the same mathematical equation
for both of the phrases.

Its not that I want to get stuck on this word problem confusion.  But,
how can I teach a child the value of 'invert and multiply' if I can't
give a good visual example of using it in a word problem?

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