Monday, January 12, 2015

Fraction Firsts

Today was my first day to teach fourth graders fractions. Whew...I teach three sections of math, and I definitely changed up my lesson all three times. By the third class, I was pretty impressed with how the activities and the levels of understanding played out :)

Before giving my students any experiences or exploration times with fractions, I displayed this question. Students had one minute of think time and then I instructed them to discuss their thoughts in groups. Again, and again, my students continue to surprise me when I ask them hold discussions.  My kiddos were sharing intense ideas, were drawing models, and were changing their thinking based on the evidence their group members were presenting. At the end of the discussion, we shared thoughts as a whole and came to a consensus that 72 cents is just a part or portion of a dollar just as a fraction is part of a whole. Students continued to explain that a dollar would represent the whole, and 72 cents was just part of a dollar. This led to the creation and discussion of writing 72/100, 0.72, and even 72%. No, we aren't quite ready to tackle decimals or percents, but I'm all about connections and exposure.

We quickly reviewed important vocabulary (numerator, denominator, equal parts, partition), and then broke out the manipulatives to explore equivalent fractions.  I put a bucket of colored, 1-inch tiles at each group and gave students the task to create a model showing 1/4 blue tiles. I gave no other specifications other than 1/4 of the model had to be blue. Many students chose to create a model with 4 squares, one of which was blue. I did have a handful of students who constructed larger models such as 2/8 and even 4/16. I asked students to stop and take a walk around the room to observe their classmates' models. Seeing their classmates' models sparked major connections with these kiddos, and they were quick to go back and construct additional models that were equivalent to 1/4.

I gave the students a couple more examples, and they created basic fractions along with their equivalencies using the the square tiles. Placing the fractions next to one another was they key to helping students develop the equation of multiplying the numerator and the denominator by they same number to arrive at an equivalent value.

 The Ipad camera was super helpful with this exploration because I was able to go around and use the Ipad as a document camera. My students modeled after their classmates, and were able to write expressions for the equivalent fractions.

Don't tell my principal we were writing on the new desks with dry erase markers... I mean, sometimes there just isn't room for dry erase boards!

I made this quick student recording sheet for my kiddos to use today. Click the image to get your free activity sheet.

I'm excited to see the progress my kiddos make with fractions! I will continue to share as we move along.

Also, if you are looking to review skills from the fall semester, my New Year Math Review packs are perfect. My students LOVED the measurement spinners! Click the picture to check it out!

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