Thank you for joining me today as part of the Fly on the Math Teacher’s Wall Blog Hop. If you have been going through the hop you probably arrived here from my buddy at Lessons with Coffee. If you are just starting the hop that is fine because we all link in a circle and you will get to hit all of the posts! The link to the next blog will be at the end of this post for your convenience.
Mulitplication of fractions is a concept that while introduced in fifth grade is still a struggle with many students in middle school. Many of my students came to me understanding the process to just mulitply the numerators, multiply the denominators and then simplify. While this is the “process” to get the answer this doesn’t help students understand the reasoning why they should do this.
I will admit that when I first taught the concepts when I was teaching fifth grade, I was just as guilty of only teaching the how and not the why. Over the years of teaching, and many math conferences, I learned the importance of why in education. Students who learn the why and are able to prove the reasoning behind the process will not only further understand their learning but as the concepts are built on in further years they will have a solid foundation.
So what is the why behind multiplying fractions? To figure this out we must help students relate fractions to ratios. We are comparing parts of a whole in a fraction. Using 2/3 x 1/4 as an example we would be finding what 2/3 OF 1/4 is when mutliplying.
To help cover this in class I have provided students with a fractional part of a cookie cake (fake of course- then as they work they get a cookie to snack on). They have to determine how break the cookie into equivalent sections. As you can see in this task card (a relatively simple one), students must first identify the amount of cookie cake that is remaining (1/4 in this case). Then as they continue reading they will see they are sharing it with 2 friends. This alone might stump students because they need to also include themselves so they are going to break it into thirds. Therefore 1/3 x 1/4 will show them the fractional part of the original cookie because each kid will receive 1/3 OF the leftover 1/4 of the cookie cake. Not only does this problem give them relevance to multiplying fractions but it also makes it something that is easily relateable to real life and therefore a connection can be made.
Now I think that I need to make the task cards so that I can share them with you so be sure to come back soon because they will be ready for you to use with your students! WOO HOO! The task cards for That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles are now complete! You can grab your set here!
Looking for the next stop on the Fly on the Math Teacher’s Wall Blog Hop? Check out my buddy at Hodge’s Herald for her take on Fraction Misconceptions!