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Q&A #1533


Fractions

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 08, 1999 at 06:09:47
Subject: Re: fractions

The big idea in fractions, I think, is to understand how the same fractional
part of something can be represented by an equivalent fraction. For
activities about equivalent fractions, see the FAMILY Math Book by Stenmark,
Cossey and Thompson. They have a section in the book called fraction strips,
where there are games that students can play with fraction strips.

There are commercial products called fraction bars, which are also useful. I
spent almost all of fifth grade with my students making various equations
using fraction bars, pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods and measuring cups
before the students started trying to use paper and pencil to compute with
fractions. This foundation served them well, because they had mental pictures
of the fractions and could solve many problems with drawings and reasoning,
not having to go to lowest common denominators or some other "algorithm" to
answer a question posed to them. Often these rules, "just invert and
multiply" make no sense to a child and are soon forgotten or mis-applied.

Marilyn Burns has a replacement unit on fractions in "Math by all Means"
series, which also has many activities for students to construct meaning
about fractions so they can actually compare them in meaningful ways. Hope
this helps.

Ann Carlyle
 -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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