Helping Students Understand Fractions


Fractions can be a difficult subject for some students. Even students who seem to “get it” when doing simpler fraction work may become quickly confused by more complex skills such as comparing or adding fractions.

So, what can a teacher or parent do to help students develop a deeper understanding of fractions?

  1. Start with concrete, and real world examples:

    How about pizza! Yum! If you are at home you can use a real pizza to discuss how the equal parts of your pizza make a whole.  For example if your pizza is cut into 8 equal slices, talk to your child about how each slice is one-eighth of the whole pizza.  If you are making your own pizza you can slice it into halves first, then fourths, then eighths and discuss the pattern that you develop.  As the pizza is cut into smaller pieces, there are more pieces to make the whole.  In the classroom, you can use “pretend pizza” like this one from Learning Resources. Or you can have your students make their own pizzas out of paper plates.  Fun!

  2. concrete-fractions


Continue reading

Decomposing Fractions in Upper Elementary


There have been a lot of changes in Math objectives and instruction over the past few years. One change that I wasn’t so sure about at first was “decomposing fractions“.  At the time I was teaching third grade and there were already so many fraction concepts to teach. But, let me tell you, after working with my students on decomposing fractions, I see that they understand fractions a lot better than when we just labeled the fractions. Composing and decomposing the fractions helps them to really see how the parts and wholes relate. Now that I am tutoring 4th, 5th and 6th graders, I see how decomposing fractions really helps them to understand the “bigger” things that they do. Continue reading