Monday, October 6, 2014

Truth About Fractions



Fractions are one of the hardest things for students from 2nd to 12th grade to understand.  It is even hard for many adults to grasp fraction concepts. What makes them so hard? How are we teaching these mathematical concepts that make it so difficult for students to comprehend?

Well, after taking a misrepresentations of mathematics course at my graduate school, my eyes were opened by one of my wonderful professors, Rachel Levy. She informed us that one of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is using circles when teaching about fractions.

Every since I was in school, I remember fractions being represented in circles. Sometimes they would be in the form of a pizza, and sometimes it would be in a cookie. I rarely remember it being represented in any other shapes.

It is nice when the circles are drawn on the computer and electronically, but what happens when a student is working on a fraction problem during a test? The lines will not be as clear as the ones drawn by the computer.  This is what it will most likely look like.



This student was able to fill in the circle to make it equivalent to the fraction, but what happens when the student has to add, multiply, subtract, and even divide fractions? Those fractions will not be as simple as 1/2 and 2/6.  It will also be more difficulty dividing those representations than it would a rectangle.

I propose rectangles because they are a quick, easy, and an accurate way of depicting fractions. It will especially be easier when multiplying, dividing, subtracting, and adding fractions.




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