The students explored the Fractions app to review some of the language (numerator, denominator) and concepts of fractions. This was a great tutorial type app with lots of visual support.

Next, we used pattern blocks and using the yellow hexagon as the whole, I had the students identify what three other blocks (green triangle, blue rhombus, red trapezoid) were in terms of parts to the whole. I told them to make a special pizza with the blocks - that one-half is cheese, one-third pepperoni and one-sixth mushrooms or whatever topping they wanted for each block. I asked them how they could record this pizza and had the students share their different ideas. My handy large foam pattern block pieces came in handy as we worked on the carpet together for this part.

Once we had done this, I asked the students to find as many ways to make a whole with the blocks as they could and record them in their math notebooks. Some students used symbolic equations and others traced the blocks to show what they did.

As I walked around the class, I listened and watched the students. Some students had good questions such as, "Is it different if the blocks are in a different order?" Two students had made "pizzas" using 2 blue blocks and 2 green blocks but had them in different orientations and they were discussing if they were the same or different. When I asked them, "What do you think?" they continued to discuss the issue and then I asked, "Are we looking at patterns or combinations?" At this point they agreed they were looking for combinations or "ways" to make the pizza so that although their pizzas looked different, they were really the same.

It was also interesting to listen to students exclaim, "I've found them all!" and then when I asked them "How do you know for sure...prove it to me?" to see the wheels turning in their minds to explain how they KNEW they had found all the ways.

This was one of those mathematical experiences during which all students were all able to engage with the mathematics at their own level and represent their understanding of what they did in their own ways. And I sure found out a lot about their understanding of fractions just by listening and watching.

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The students used the iPad app, Pizza Fractions to work with comparing fractions using the greater than, less than and equals signs.

This is a good app with good visual support/clues for the students. The math behind this app is a bit too complex for most of the students (ie comparing 2/6 and 4/8) but many of the students have grasped the concept that the smaller the denominator, the larger the size of the "part" so that helped them with the comparisons. You can click on a clue button to see two visuals of the pizza which makes a visual comparison easy so that students can work with this app at different levels.

After this afternoon of working with fractions, I had a request from the students to make pizza. Hmm....why do pizza and fractions just seem to go together?