Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Any child struggling with mixed numerals=?UTF-8?B?Pw==?=

The answer may be "no" in some parallel universe but here on earth the title of this post is rhetorical.

So we show children a diagram of 4 identical pizzas each divided into 8 equal slices or for the younger set we have manipulatives. We would probably not use so many pieces when introducing this but I needed an example which could also appear on the next state test.

We cross out or shade all the slices in 3 of the pizzas and 5 of the slices in the 4th pizza, representing what a group of kids ate.

What are the questions we ask or might appear in the text or on the worksheets or on the state mandated tests?

What do you believe are the major stumbling blocks for most children and what can we as educators or parents or tutors do to help?

Here are some thoughts...
Is the issue more conceptual or procedural?

How would you rank the importance of how each question is worded?

You want the answer to be both the improper fraction 29/8 and the mixed numeral 3 5/8. How should the questions be worded?  Hey, there's no universal remedy here! Some children will misunderstand the questions no matter how they're expressed or simply have not yet made sense of the ideas. BUT on an assessment the wording must be mathematically correct and age-appropriate, right?

How would you react to the child who responds 29/32? Is (s)he wrong? How could the question be asked for which this correct? Is the child confused or was it the question itself?

Whether you're a 3rd grade teacher, a professor of math/math ed, a math staff developer or coordinator/administrator I hope you'll weigh in on this with your reflections and/or anecdotal experiences.

I consider this issue to be of vital importance in the development of the concepts and skills of fractions and part vs whole.

What do you think?
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