If you have followed me or seen any of my webinars, you know that I wholeheartedly believe that all students can learn math at a high level–and we, as teachers, need to constantly strive to refine our teaching strategies and methods so that we reach ALL students…no matter their starting point. This is especially true for fractions which can be one of the most challenging things we teach. This post begins a series about fraction instruction that I hope you find helpful and meaningful.
To begin, I don’t think it would be surprising if I told you that a majority of intermediate grade teachers declare that fractions are one of (or THE) most challenging concept for them to teach–and for their students to learn. So why is this? And more importantly–what can we do about it?! These questions will be the foundation for this series of blog posts. We CAN make a difference in how we reach our students and deepen their fraction knowledge.
What makes fractions so challenging to teach?
I have done some research (formal and informal) by looking at what the experts have said and by asking countless teachers in the trenches, and I think I have some answers as to what makes this topic so overwhelming for many. Why is this important? If we can identify the stumbling blocks, then we can start to chip away at them and begin to learn more about what WILL work and how we can overcome these obstacles. I am constantly on a quest to find ways to “make sense” of fractions for my students (which is what led to me creating a full fraction unit to use with my students!)
Fractions are not always “concrete”.
Fractions are numbers–really!
|(These number lines are a part of my fraction number line resource–also part of my 10 resource fraction toolkit)|
The understanding of “unit fraction” is missing
Fraction notation and terminology can be challenging
Fractions appear in multiple contexts
Because 1/2 can VARY, this is extremely confusing to many students. In fact, this challenge forms the foundation of a great deal of the fraction work I do in my class–to really help students grasp how fluid fractions are. You can see lots of examples of this in my complete fraction unit that has been such a game changer for me and literally thousands of teachers who have used it.