Fraction notation and operations may be the most abstract **math monsters** our students meet until they get to algebra. Before we can explain **those frustrating fractions**, we teachers need to go back to the basics for ourselves. First, let’s get rid of two common misconceptions:

**A fraction is not two numbers.**

Every fraction is a single number. A fraction can be added to other numbers (or subtracted, multiplied, etc.), and it has to obey the**Distributive Law**and all the other standard rules for numbers. It takes two digits (plus a bar) to write a fraction, just as it takes two digits to write the number 18 — but, like 18, the fraction is a single number that names a certain amount of whatever we are counting or measuring.

**A fraction is not something to do.**

A fraction is a number, not a recipe for action. The fraction 3/4 does not mean, “Cut your pizza into 4 pieces, and then keep 3 of them.” The fraction 3/4 simply names a certain amount of stuff, more than a half but not as much as a whole thing. When our students are learning fractions, we do cut up models to help them understand, but the fractions themselves are simply numbers.