Fractions: Building a Strong Foundation Based on Conceptual Understanding

byValerie J. Schwarz

This curriculum unit is designed to teach fractions by developing concepts in a deep, meaningful way. The curriculum unit will focus on the "unit": unit fractions, general fractions, equivalent fractions, mixed numbers, improper fractions, and adding and subtracting fractions with like, related and unlike denominators. The strategies and activities are carefully planned to provide a framework to build on students' prior knowledge. The goal of the unit is for students to truly grasp the meaning of fractions instead of memorizing algorithms. Through hands-on techniques students are exposed to the many variations that fractions represent. The target audience for this unit is fourth grade. Parts of the unit could be used in second and third grade, and other parts of the unit could be used in fifth and sixth grade.

(Developed for Mathematics, grade 4; recommended for Mathematics, grades 3-5)


Comments (4)

    Karen Conte (Brandywine School District, Wilmington, DE)
    Subject taught: Math, Grade: 5
    Inspiring unit
    I just wanted you to know that I was inspired by your lesson, I started folding paper strips and figuring out how to integrate them into my lessons on fractions. I teach 5th grade but it was very applicable for my students who were not getting it. We use Singapore but your unit gave a better explanation of Fractions using the concrete, pictorial, abstract. I also like your scope and sequence of the lessons. I was using it to reteach the review of mixed numbers, improper fractions, etc. and will follow it more closely when we get to adding fractions after break.

    I also liked your activities, I only wish there were \'activities\' for all of the lessons:)
    Frank Peart (Buff Bay Primary, Kingston, Ja)
    Subject taught: Math, Science, Social Studies, language , Grade: 4
    Your Publication Strengthens
    I am about to teach adding like fractions to my fourth grade class, so I was searching for a variety of ways to introduce the activities in a concrete way. Then I came upon your article.It provided a good base on which to start. The sequencing of the activities spot on; I too have been trying such a sequence however, yours is far more activity base. Thanks and I will share.
    Cindy Fisher (Pittsburgh Grandview Elementary, Bridgeville, PA)
    Subject taught: Math grades 1, 4, and 5; Reading grade 4, Grade: 4
    Great reflections and resources
    I am researching fraction work in grades 4 and 5, and I had been led to your link. I am so over-the-moon that I found this resource. You provided me with standards-based instruction, order, misconceptions, instructional resources, and so much more. As an intermediate (mostly) special educator in math for grades 4 and 5, my students have many splintered skills and your reflections are spot-on. They will drive my small group instruction. We have already begun the fraction strips, but I am always in search of more connections. I saved your site for future pathways!
    Thanks again,
    Cindy
    L Lang (LCK, Phoenix, AZ)
    Subject taught: Science/5th grade ELD
    Great overview of your fractions unit
    I\'ve been placed in a 5th grade ELD class. It\'s a title 1 school predominantly hispanic. It is not what I\'ve been trained to do. Teaching ELD is hard because of language and prior knowledge from prior grades not being there. The school uses the Engage NY math. Students partially understand the information but the school says push them along. In other words if they didn\'t learn their math tables then just keep going. I\'m going to try your unit as a re-teach for them. I will report back when I finish to see if there is positive growth. Even though I\'m re-teaching, I\'m bucking their system by doing so. They worry about the AZ Merit & Azella tests. They focus on the tests & not really whether the students learned something or not.

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