Thursday, April 2, 2015

5 Tips on Teaching Fractions

Fractions is one of those math concepts that students tend to cringe when they hear that oh-so-scary word. Taught the right way, fractions are easy to master and your students will start loving them (ok, maybe not, but it's worth a try!)

The thing with pizza is that everyone loves it and understands it.  Students know that pizza comes cut in slices and this makes it a perfect tool to start introducing fractions

Drawing a pizza on the board is an easy way to start working with and introducing common fractions (1/2, 1/4, 3/4).  Cutting the pizza in fourths, students are quick to understand that dad eats two slices, mom eats one, leaving only one slice left!  

Using the pizza example idea, start "eating" slices of pizza and writing out the fraction, explaining how you got the numerator and denominator.  

In this pizza, there are 4 slices, of which 2 are eaten, giving a fraction of 2/4.  

Give lots and lots of examples, using various denominators, until all students are comfortable writing fractions.  

Have students draw, draw and draw!  Give students a fraction (for example, 1/10) and have them represent it through a drawing.  

Drawing pizzas is still completely acceptable, but they might also want to start expanding and simply using rectangles and dividing them. 

It's also the perfect time to start introducing equivalent fractions (and simplifying fractions).  

By drawing, students can start seeing how 1/10 (pictured in the first drawing) is equal to 2/20 (pictured above). 

There are many various ways to play with manipulatives, but one of my favourites is to give my students this puzzle.  I take two puzzles, cut them into pieces and mix them up.  Students then have to form two rectangles, using these fractions.  The fractions each represent a part of the rectangle to which they belong.

So far, you might be spending a lot of time working on fractions in your classroom, but that's ok!  Practice really does make perfect, and considering how important understanding this concept, it's worth the time you put into it.

I have created a Fraction Bundle to help you teach this concept in your classroom.  Two of these are games (and what better way to learn and consolidate their knowledge on fractions by playing games) and one is a set of 90 task cards. 

Here's to a wonderful fractions unit this year!