Yesterday I gave each student a little half-piece of paper and asked them to record everything they knew about fractions using pictures, numbers and words. In our curriculum, fractions are not formally introduced until grade 3 but I thought many of the students would have some knowledge of fractions. I was surprised how little they seemed to know...many said hadn't even heard the word before.

I did a little overview of what fractions are by reading the introduction to the book Working with Fractions by David Adler. I then had the students take some "notes" in their math notebooks, including a definition of fractions and some examples using both region and set models.

Today the students each made their own "fraction kit", an idea from Marilyn Burns. We compared fractions, discussed how a larger denominator (1/8 vs 1/2) does not mean a greater amount when comparing to the same-sized whole.

I did some greater than/less than/equal to comparisons with students holding up their fraction kit pieces to complete the statements. For example, "What fraction is less than 1/2?" (which had multiple responses) and to challenge some of my students. "What fraction is equal to 3/4?"

The students all used their pieces, either to visually make comparisons or to actual line up the pieces against or on top of each other to make the comparisons.

We also did some demos around fair shares and the students "got" this for sure. I wanted to make sure they understood that halves need to be equal parts, not just two parts and I modeled this by drawing a chocolate bar and dividing into two parts...one very large piece and one small. I said, "I'll take this half (pointing to the big piece) and you can have this half!" We talked about fractions needing to be "fair shares" and equal.

To also work with a set model, I had students each choose a random selection of 10 unifix cubes and then arrange them in a ten-frame format. We practiced saying "tenths" which is a hard one to get the *th* sound out right!

I modeled with my set saying, " Five-tenths of my cubes are green, two-tenths of my cubes are yellow," and asked other students to make fraction statements about their sets. We then went around the circle for each student to have a turn. I called out a colour from each set and the student needed to (orally) make a fraction statement.

I'm thinking we'll do some more building and visualizing with the fraction kits and other materials and then look at some different ways we use fractions (other than during math class!).

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