How Shall We Teach Fractions?

How did you fare on the Frustrating Fractions Quiz? With so many apparent inconsistencies, we can all see why children (and their teachers) get confused. And yet, fractions are vital to our children’s test scores — and scores are important to college admissions officers. What is a teacher to do? Must we tell our children, “Do it this way, and don’t ask questions”?

Parents and teachers are tempted to wonder if the struggle is worth it. After all, how often do you divide by a fraction in your adult life? If only we could skip the hard stuff…

5 out of 4 People Have Trouble with Fractions

However difficult it may be, our students need to understand fractions. They need to know what fractions mean and how to make them work. Fractions are the necessary foundation underlying algebra, and algebra is the gateway to all higher mathematics. Therefore, we must help our students conquer this math monster.

Which means we teachers must learn to understand fractions ourselves.

Over the next several weeks, I hope to take you back to the beginning and strengthen your foundations. We will talk about fraction basics. We will learn three models for understanding and teaching fractions. We will play fraction games, and we will eat a few brownies.

And along the way, we will learn:

What Elementary Students Need to Know About Fractions

For Older Students, Add Three More Ideas

  • A fraction is a division problem.
  • A fraction is a comparison.
  • A fraction is a reciprocal.

3 thoughts on “How Shall We Teach Fractions?

  1. I think teaching with pictures is the best anytime it is possible. I had to write a paper for a grad class on why we add fractions the way we do. I got a “done” on the paper, as opposed to the countless marks of “redo” that led up to the final “done”. I hope it helps explain, in pictures, why we find the common denominator when adding fractions… Why we add fractions the way we do… a visual tour

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