Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Fractions Can Be Fun - Section 4: Assessing Understanding


Students easily can draw and label  fractional parts for quarters and halves. Thirds is not as visually simple so students have trouble trying to draw 3 equal parts or trying to fold 3 equal parts of something. 

If they draw a rectangle and make 3 equal parts they can come close to making it work, but often students begin by drawing a line down the center so then they have 1 large part because they know they need to divide the last piece in half to end up with 3 even pieces. The same thing happens when they fold paper, they want to fold it in half and then in half again, but when they open it up they are surprised to see 4 sections instead of 3. 

I try to show students how to roll the paper into thirds if they are folding. I hold it up like a telescope to look through it, and then roll it a bit so my pieces look about the same, and then I crease the paper. When students are about to draw thirds without folding, I tell them to imagine 3 even pieces first and to think about how the pieces must be (and I pause and ask here.. ) bigger or smaller than a half? Right, they need to be smaller so don't draw a line down the middle.. move over a little.

With a circle, some students recognize a peace sign in the division into thirds. I also tell them it is like putting a big Y inside the circle.

Remember that thirds is not as easily visualized so your students may need help here.

  Thirds Don't Make Sense
  Grappling with Complexity: Thirds Don't Make Sense
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Fractions Can Be Fun

Unit 9: Fractions
Lesson 1 of 10

Objective: SWBAT identify and talk about fractions of halves, thirds and fourths of a whole.

Big Idea: Students recognize what it means to fold a paper in half, but do they recognize how to create fourths or thirds?

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