Q&A #5962

Multiplying fractions

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Mar 14, 2001 at 22:16:25
Subject: Re: Multiplying fractions

Jeanne gave you a great visual way to demonstrate what happens.  I wanted to 
let you know that this VERY question came up today in my fifth grade class.

One student raised her hand and said, "I just don't understand why the 
answers are smaller when we multiply these fractions.  Shouldn't they be 

We used models to work through a few problems, and kept the focus on what
function each fraction played in the problem  (1/2 x 2/3 = 1/2 of a group
of 2/3)  It helped many of my students to continually stress that there was
a language meaning to the abstract problem.

The best part was that 2 pre-service teachers were observing the lesson, and
got to hear all the different ways students tried to explain what they saw

Several wanted to use common denominators to solve the problems, so we tried
that, too, and found out it didn't make any difference.  This is so difficult 
for students.  They have been told over and over again to find common 
denominators, and now suddenly they don't need to anymore. I just thought you 
would get a chuckle out of hearing that you are not alone.

 -Gail, for the T2T service

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