Fractions: 3 Concrete Ideas to Overcome Them!

By in Our Expert Talks

Ideas of activities used in Valérie Lebel’s classroom, math resource teacher

Fractions, a key point in the mathematics curriculum that, if not well understood from their introduction at the elementary level, are likely to pose some difficulties for students later on. To help you in this complex task, our Netmath expert, Simon Lavallée, has set out to uncover the best ways to introduce your students to fractions.

In a previous article, Simon presented you with three ways to approach fractions in class. Always in pursuit of good ideas, this time he consulted with Valérie Lebel, a teacher who is not lacking in imagination when it comes to helping her students to understand mathematical concepts.

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Today, I went to meet Valérie, a pedagogical consultant in primary school at the Dollard-Des-Ormeaux school of the Central Québec School Board, and she kindly agreed to share an insight of what type of activity she’s using in class to spark understanding.

When introducing a concept, Valerie always relies on tangible ideas. It allows students to construct mental images and to have a solid foundation to make sense of the mathematical formalism.

In the next three articles, I will explain to you how she brings material to life – which you probably have in your classroom – to introduce fractions to students of the second cycle of elementary school and above. In these articles, I will discuss the introduction of fractions from three distinct perspectives:

 

#1 The meaning of a fraction

Here, we will work on the meaning of operations on fractions, particularly by using material to give a concrete meaning in the search of a common denominator before adding (or subtracting) fractions.

 

# 2 Adding fractions

Here, we will work on the meaning of operations on fractions, particularly by using material to give a concrete meaning in the search of a common denominator before adding (or subtracting) fractions.

 

# 3 Expanding to Decimals

Finally, this last idea will have the objective of realising the search for equivalent fractions.

 

I would be very curious to learn more about your own personal experiences. What problems do you encounter when teaching fractions? What techniques do you use with your students? Feel free to talk about it in the comments section.

 

Simon Lavallée,
Netmath expert and e-learning specialist