If you are looking for a fresh take on teaching fractions with lessons that help students overcome common misconceptions and develop deep understanding, you’ll definitely want to check out Beyond Pizzas & Pies: 10 Essential Strategies for Supporting Fraction Sense, Grades 3-5!
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It was my source for this lesson. You might also like this post about using geoboards to teach deep conceptual understanding of fractions.
If you asked a handful of 3rd graders (and possibly 4th and 5th graders…) to name the fraction represented by the shaded part in the model below, many would say one-third. What misconception are they operating under? Yes, one part out of three parts is shaded, but are the parts equal?
This is an important understanding that students must develop as they work with early fraction concepts. We often only show students wholes that are already equally divided, and we assume they realize the importance of the parts being equal. But until they actually work with unequally partitioned figures, we can’t be sure.
To introduce this lesson, I created a SMART Notebook file with seven different slides showing unequally partitioned figures, like the one shown below.
The smaller square off to the side is an infinite clone. Touching and sliding the smaller figure will create a clone (copy). On each slide, students should use the smaller figures to determine how many of the shape it will take to cover the larger figure.
The figures in this activity also provide a great way to work in some geometry vocabulary review. For example, the figure shown above is a square, but it is also a quadrilateral, a parallelogram, a polygon, a rectangle, and a rhombus.