Really understanding what fractions are, how they fit on the number line, and how to operate with them – add, subtract, multiply, divide – is central to learning decimals and percentages. According to the NCTM Principles and Standards, students in the middle grades should be expected to acquire a deeper understanding of fractions, decimals, and percents and an increased flexibility in using them to solve problems. Yet students may reach even the higher grades of middle school without a firm grasp of fractions. Perhaps a change in strategy could help? Let’s offer compelling visuals and hands-on manipulation of those fractured numbers!
COUNTDOWN: Number and Operations – Fractions
COUNTDOWN is an interactive television math program broadcast on cable television in Chicago. This web site contains the archives of those broadcasts. The 4-7 minute math movies consist of direct instruction and are reinforced with literature, manipulatives, activities and related computer instruction. Topics include logic, perimeter, area, probability, graphing, congruence, integers and much more. Movies are organized according to content standards established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Many of the movies have associated worksheets that can be printed.
A thorough tutorial on the topic—from identifying and comparing fractions to operations with them! Students work through interactive exercises and games. A complete step-by-step, illustrated explanation of each subtopic is included. Don’t miss the game of Finding Grampy, where students practice finding a mixed number in lowest terms as they look for Grampy on the number line.
Using this online manipulative, students represent two to four fractions—such as 7/13, 2/7, 8/9, and 2/3—by dividing and shading areas of squares or circles. They then order the fractions from smallest to largest on a number line. The visual representation here is powerful.
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Under the middle school offerings, you will find the activity Adding Fractions. Students must do the usual exercise of finding equivalent fractions with common denominators, but here the fractions are represented visually as portions of a square. Once the computer checks that the fractions are correct, the students can drag the representations into a third box and enter the sum of the fractions. This is a learning experience! There are other activities on fractions as well, all worth checking out.
The Maths File Game Show
This BBC site offers a game that requires players to match fractions with equivalent decimals or percentages, Go to Saloon Snap. When a question is answered correctly, the player can move his or her piece across the board. The goal is to be the first to create a path across a 10-by-10 grid. It’s a real math exercise and it’s motivating!
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