[Math]odology Monthly Message
VOL. 6
The Best Manipulatives for Teaching Fractions

Up until 2012, I thought the best manipulatives for teaching fractions were plastic rectangle strips and circles representing fractional parts. Students could see the different pieces and worked to name the fraction by comparing the shaded region to the number of parts that made up the whole. But while observing a classroom in Singapore I had a eureka moment. Yes, there is a better, more effective way for students to truly understand the beginning conventions of fractions. What is the best manipulative? A piece of paper.
Fraction Strips
Fraction Circles
How can a piece of paper do the job? Let take a look at a Grade 1 task from the think!Mathematics textbook series. Students are asked how many different ways to show four equal pieces.
When students then transition to drawing fractions do they show it accurately? My experience in many classrooms is that students cannot fold or even draw thirds or fifths. They are not precise in showing what half looks like. This makes it difficult to visualize what 1/2 of 1/3 looks like.
In 2012, I was enlightened by a group of children halfway around the world. I gained a new perspective and approach for learning about fractions. I am thankful for friends like Dr. Yeap Ban Har who took these ideas and wrote tasks around them, which ultimately lead to a textbook series like think!Mathematics. Textbooks, which allowed these ideas to be available to thousands of students and teachers. Who would have thought that a few pieces of paper could influence so much of what I was teaching in grades 1-6?

Please join us this month as we look and learn from our Singapore friends. And, don't
forget the paper!
think!Mathematics SHOWCASE
Model the THINKING Process
When we model the thinking as teachers or provide opportunities to "read" the math from the textbook, we build metacognitive behaviors in our students. Notice how our friends in the think!Mathematics textbook model their thinking and how it is transferred in this 5th grader's journal.
Less is More
think!Mathematics encourages students to solve problems in multiple ways. This approach allows students to take on different perspectives and learn how to communicate their thought process. Asking students to go deeper with fewer problems is more effective than a worksheet with 20 problems to solve. Multiple methods also allow for student choice, which keeps the learning of new topics more exciting!
[Math]odology Monday

Fraction Misconceptions
Why we compute fractions the way we do, and how to help students who struggle with the concepts. Bring your paper and get ready to prove your thinking!
Monday, February 22nd
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EASTERN TIME
Workshop Wednesday
Understanding the Development of Fractional Concepts
Join author Dr. Yeap Ban Har in looking at the spiral behind teaching fractions and operations involving fractions.
Wednesday, February 24th
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EASTERN TIME
1122 3rd Street, Suite 7
Neptune Beach, Florida 32266