I’ve been working on my next Playful Math Singles book, based on the popular Things to Do with a Hundred Chart post.
My hundred chart list began many years ago as seven ideas for playing with numbers. Over the years, it grew to its current 30+ activities.
Now, in preparing the new book, my list has become a monster. I’ve collected almost 70 ways to play with numbers, shapes, and logic from preschool to middle school. Just yesterday I added activities for fraction and decimal multiplication, and also tips for naming complex fractions. Wow!
Gonna have to edit that cover file…
In the “Advanced Patterns” chapter, I have a section on math debates. The point of a math debate isn’t that one answer is “right” while the other is “wrong.” You can choose either side of the question — the important thing is how well you support your argument.
Here’s activity #69 in the current book draft.
Have a Math Debate: Adding Fractions
When you add fractions, you face a problem that most people never consider. Namely, you have to decide exactly what you are talking about.
For instance, what is one-tenth plus one-tenth?
Well, you might say that:
of one hundred chart
+ of the same chart
= of that hundred chart
But, you might also say that:
of one chart
+ of another chart
= of the pair of charts
That is, you started off counting on two independent charts. But when you put them together, you ended up with a double chart. Two hundred squares in all. Which made each row in the final set worth of the whole pair of charts.
So what happens if you see this question on a math test:
+ = ?
If you write the answer “”, you know the teacher will mark it wrong.
Is that fair? Why, or why not?
CREDITS: Feature photo (above) by Thor/geishaboy500 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0). “One is one … or is it?” video by Christopher Danielson via TED-Ed. This math debate was suggested by Marilyn Burns’s blog post Can 1/3 + 1/3 = 2/6? It seemed so!