Reflection: Gradual Release Using Number Lines to Discover Benchmark Fractions - Section 2: Launch


This group of students loves working with fraction tiles.  They find them helpful, useful, and they make working with fractions easy.  They feel quite differently about number lines.  It is important for me to help students transition their thinking to understand that number line are also a helpful too.  Sometimes even more so.  When working with mixed numbers and improper fractions, fraction tiles can become too cumbersome to be useful.  Also, fraction tiles only have a limited number of options for denominators.  

Number lines are a tool that students need to be taught to appreciate.  If they don't understand how to make, use, and manipulate number lines to support their thinking, the students will think they are just "busy work".  

Since fractions are a critical focus in fifth grade, I spend time working with the students and explicitly teaching them how to use and appreciate number lines. Rather than hearing them say "this confuses me" I want to see them initiate using number lines on their own. 

To help with this transition, I actually draw fraction tiles over a number line.  When we work with unit fractions, we label it space (the tile) with the fraction that it is (1/4).  However, a number line is like a tape measure or a ruler, it shows how much space the tiles take up.  Therefore, we mark the line at the end of a tile with the fraction that it represents. 

To keep students thinking flexibly, I change the end value so that it doesn't always represent a whole number. 

Looking back, I should also change the location of the 0 to help students develop an understanding that numbers less that zero exist. 

  Number lines and Fraction tiles
  Gradual Release: Number lines and Fraction tiles
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Using Number Lines to Discover Benchmark Fractions

Unit 2: Adding and Subtracting Fractions
Lesson 5 of 11

Objective: SWBAT make generalizations about benchmark fractions using evidence from number lines.

Big Idea: Benchmark Fractions help establish quantities, developing fraction number sense and judgment of the reasonableness of estimates.

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  62 minutes
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