In my earlier post, I talked about the many factors that make fractions challenging for students. If you missed it, you can read it by clicking RIGHT HERE. Before my next few posts where I tackle some “in the trenches” ideas about fractions, I want to talk about gradual release, an instructional strategy that is true in good math instruction across ALL topics.

### What is “Gradual Release” of Instruction?

So although I want to continue to address some of these foundation fraction concepts that can be so difficult, I want to stress something that is true in math instruction overall–not just for fractions. When we want to utilize a gradual release of instruction model, we often think of the following:

**I show the students.**

**We do it together.**

**They try it alone.**

Now, I’m not going to lie. I feel this is a very over-simplified model of what a true gradual release of instruction plan should involve. A true gradual release is NOT linear; it is recursive and cycles around and around as we layer our instruction. That’s for another day! But what I see happening oftentimes is that we teach, we practice, and then we assess–and the results of the assessment don’t always make us so happy.

I’m going to propose a SECOND type of gradual release that is particularly pertinent in math instruction. It looks a little something like this.

### An example…

**“Sue walked into a bakery to buy some cookies for her family. She noticed that each tray held 24 cookies. If half of the cookies on one of the trays had sprinkles, how many would that be? What if half of the cookies with sprinkles also had chocolate chips–how many would that be?”**

**3/4 + 4/4 = ?**

**5 x 3/8 = ?**

**Generate a list of 3 fractions equivalent to 4/5.**

### I really thought they were understanding…

One thing I have found–especially for the more beginning levels of fractions, is that students may seem to be understanding. They fill in the answers correctly on their practice sheets. In addition, they may be able to identify a given fraction. They may even be able to do the bare number tasks listed above…but do any of these show a TRUE understanding of fractions and their real-world application? That takes us, as teachers, getting in trenches with them watching, listening, and asking questions.

Want to check out the fraction unit I use?