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Explore, Identify, Create and Compare Fractions!

“What did you do to my son?” a mother of one of my grade four students recently commented.

At a loss for reference to any incidents at school,  I responded, “What do you mean?”

“Well, he came home from school so excited about fractions!   All he wanted to talk about were the discoveries he made about fractions!”

That brought a smile to my face. Is there anything more gratifying than having your student make those connections and experience those aha moments?

So what led to such excitement? It all started last week when I made some new tools ( a fraction number line set ) and let my students take some time to explore and compare. Then I challenged them to find all the fractions that were equivalent to 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and so on.  Well, in no time they were making all kinds of discoveries and asking to find equivalents for other fractions

“Can I do 1/5? How about 1/10?”

“Did you know that 2/5 is like 40/100?”fractionstripdesktopper_Page_2

These were just some of the comments I was getting as I moved around the room with guiding questions. As I observed, I wondered why I had never started our study of fractions in this manner before?  In the past I started by showing instead of exploration, but this approach ignited a curiosity in my kids that pushed them on to deeper learning.

This experience is not unique to learning about fractions.  I find it to be true whenever I am introducing new math concepts. Exploring first and working toward solving problems  is a great motivator and results in deeper understanding. Isn’t that what we want for our students?

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