Making Sense of Fractions: Laying the Foundation for Success in Algebra
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Making Sense of Fractions: Laying the Foundation for Success in Algebra Nadine Bezuk and Steve Klass NCTM Annual Conference--Salt Lake City April 10, 2008. The Big Questions. What makes fractions so difficult for students?

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Making sense of fractions laying the foundation for success in algebra

Making Sense of Fractions: Laying the Foundation for Success in Algebra

Nadine Bezuk and Steve Klass

NCTM Annual Conference--Salt Lake City

April 10, 2008


The big questions

The Big Questions

  • What makes fractions so difficult for students?

  • What do students need to know and be able to do so they can reason with fractions?

  • How can developing fraction reasoning help students to reason algebraically?


Connecting arithmetic and algebra

Connecting Arithmetic and Algebra

“If students genuinely understand arithmetic at a level at which they can explain and justify the properties they are using as they carry out calculations, they have learned some critical foundations of algebra.”

Carpenter, Franke, and Levi, 2003, p. 2


Laying the foundation for algebra

Laying the Foundation for Algebra

Encourage young students to make algebraic generalizations without necessarily using algebraic notation.

NCTM Algebra Research Brief


Foundation for fraction reasoning

Foundation for Fraction Reasoning

  • Fraction concepts and number sense about fractions

  • Equivalence

  • Order and comparison

  • Meaning of whole number operations

  • Students need to understand these topics well before they can be successful in operating with fractions.

  • Students need to be successful with fraction reasoning and operations if we want them to have success in transitioning to algebraic thinking.


From the nctm focal points relating fractions and algebra

From the NCTM Focal Points: Relating Fractions and Algebra

  • Grade 3 - Foundational fraction concepts, comparing, ordering, and equivalence. . . They understand and use models, including the number line, to identify equivalent fractions.

  • Grade 4 - Decimals and fraction equivalents

  • Grade 5 - Addition and subtraction of fractions

  • Grade 6 - Multiplication and division of fractions

  • Grade 7 - Negative integers

  • Grade 8 - Linear functions and equations


Types of models for fractions

Types of Models for Fractions

  • Area/region

    • Fraction circles, pattern blocks, paper folding, geoboards, fraction bars, fraction strips/kits

  • Set/discrete

    • Chips, counters, painted beans Length/linear

  • Linear

    • Number lines, rulers, fraction bars, fraction strips/kits


What should students understand about fraction concepts

What Should Students Understand about Fraction Concepts

  • Meaning of the denominator (number of equal-sized pieces into which the whole has been cut)

  • Meaning of the numerator (how many pieces are being considered)

  • The more pieces a whole is divided into, the smaller the size of the pieces


What is equivalence anyway

What is Equivalence, Anyway?

  • “Equivalence” means “equal value”

  • A fraction can have many different names

  • Understanding that 1/2 is equivalent to many other fractions helps learners to use that benchmark

  • Simplify: when and why:

    (does “simplify” mean “reduce”?)


Ordering fractions

Ordering Fractions

Fractions with the same denominator can be compared by their numerators.


Ordering fractions1

Ordering Fractions

Fractions with the same numerator can be compared by their denominators.


Ordering fractions2

Ordering Fractions

Fractions close to a benchmark can be compared by finding their distance from the benchmark.


Ordering fractions3

Ordering Fractions

Fractions close to one can be compared by finding their distance from one.


Strategies for ordering fractions

Strategies for Ordering Fractions

  • Same denominator

  • Same numerator

  • Benchmarks: close to 0, 1, 1/2

  • Same number of missing parts from the whole (”Residual strategy”)


Clothesline fractions activity

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“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity1

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“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity2

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“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity3

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“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity4

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,

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity5

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“Clothesline” Fractions Activity

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Clothesline fractions activity6

,

,

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity

(where x ≠0)


Clothesline fractions activity7

,

,

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity


Clothesline fractions activity8

,

,

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity

(where x ≠0)


Clothesline fractions activity9

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity

(where x ≠0)


Clothesline fractions activity10

“Clothesline” Fractions Activity

(where x ≠-1)


The number line helps develop

The Number Line Helps Develop

  • Fraction sense

  • Benchmarks

  • Relative magnitude of fractions

  • Algebraic connections


What should kids know

What Should “Kids” Know?

  • Fractions aren’t just between zero and one; they live between all the numbers on the number line;

  • A fraction can have many different names;

  • There are more strategies than just “finding a common denominator” for comparing and ordering fractions;

  • Fractions can be ordered on a number line just like whole numbers.

  • The thinking involved when placing fractions on a number line can be symbolized algebraically.


Making sense of fractions laying the foundation for success in algebra

Contact Us:[email protected]@projects.sdsu.eduSlides and Fraction Tents Master are available at:http://pdc.sdsu.edu(click on “PDC Presentations”)


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