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Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4

Fraction Strips

Video Overview

Students listen to the story Gator Pie (Dodd, Mead, 1979) by Louise Mathews and then discuss what they already know about fractions. An ongoing list of fraction ideas is kept in the room; students can add to it as the unit progresses. Then students make fraction pieces from paper strips. Each student is given four different-colored strips of construction paper, with the black strip being equal to one whole. Students are guided in folding the other three strips into halves, fourths, and eighths. Students cut each strip into equal parts and label them with fractions. Students are then introduced to the game they will play, the goal of which is to cover their whole fraction bar completely. Students take turns rolling fraction dice, which tell which fraction pieces can be used to cover the whole. As they play the game, students informally add fractions. Connections are made from objects and actions to symbols as students record combinations of fractions that are equal to one whole.The lesson ends with students discussing what combinations of fraction pieces can be used to cover a whole.


Topics for Discussion

The following areas provide a focus for discussion after you view the video. You may want to customize these areas or focus on your own discussion ideas.


Developing Fraction Concepts

  1. The students were asked, 3What do you know about fractions?2 How did the students respond? How and when might you use this technique to assess prior knowledge?

  2. Why did Ms. Bailey have the students make their own fraction pieces rather than giving them precut pieces?

  3. Ms. Bailey modeled how to fold the fraction strips. What might have happened if she had just asked the students to figure out for themselves how to fold the paper strip into two, four, or eight equal parts? What would be some advantages or disadvantages of this discovery approach compared with the teacher-modeling approach?

  4. Were you surprised by the ability of these young children to grasp fraction concepts? Why or why not?

  5. How did the use of physical materials enhance the potential of this lesson for moving students into such new areas of fraction learning as equivalent fractions, addition of fractions, and subtraction of fractions?

  6. Describe the use of children1s literature to begin the lesson. How else could literature be incorporated into this lesson?


Using Games to Explore Fractions

  1. Describe the use of the game in this lesson. What mathematics emerged from playing the game?

  2. How did the emphasis on writing - recording the combinations of fractions that equal a whole - further the students1 learning beyond just playing the game?

  3. Ms. Bailey told the students to 3record with your paperSwhat equals the whole.2 However, she did not tell them how to do the recording. What methods (words, symbols, or pictures) did the students use to record their findings? Should specific symbols be required?

  4. What do you think about using competitive games to reinforce mathematics concepts? What are the pros and the cons of using competitive games?

  5. How could the game be modified to focus on other fraction concepts?


Extensions

Folding Other Fractions

Investigate folding fraction strips for thirds, sixths, ninths, and twelfths as well as for fifths and tenths. Explain in writing a procedure for folding each of these fraction strips. Then describe the mathematics that emerges from the paper folding and the writing. Once you have finished, design a lesson using fraction strips that would be appropriate for your grade level. Then note how you would adapt the lesson for the grade level above and below yours.

Mathematical Games

In a group, share the games you use to foster students1 mathematics learning. Then divide into pairs of teachers to find, modify, or develop additional mathematical games. Each pair should teach the game to the rest of the teachers and present a rationale for its mathematical value. Decide as a group where each game might fit in or be adapted to curricula at different grade levels.



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