This decision was the product of much reading, discussing with my teammates, and more reading. I strongly, and I mean strongly recommend the book Extending Children’s Mathematics : Fractions and Decimals by Empson and Levi. Reading this book has been truly enlightening as it clarified and explained so many questions I did not even know I had about how children learn fractions. In addition, I attended a 3 day professional development course on Fractions alone. You can read about it here. But do not take it from me, here is what the books says about:
“The use of fraction manipulatives to teach equivalence and order is popular. However, students can use manipulatives such as fraction bars or divided circles to solve fraction problems without understanding the mathematical basis for the relationship. […] Rather than supporting children to think, these types of manipulatives can eliminate the need for children to think mathematically.”
I had to experience this first hand to both believe and understand – and WHAT a difference it has made. Teaching fractions has been the best unit (and my favorite) this year so far. I witnessed children making amazing connections and really ‘thinking mathematically’ while making tons of conjunctures at the same time. If a child needed to make sense of a problem involving equal sharing, they were free to use color pencils or pre-cut pieces of paper in the shape of a square or circle.
|A student using color pencils to distribute equal shares|
|Hot of the press: Children’s Mathematics. Getting ready to dive into another great read.|
How do you teach fractions? I would love to know.
Fraction display photo thanks to Misskprimary