Fractions can be a challenging concept for 4th and 5th graders. One of the most difficult things about fractions is understanding the relationship between the numerator and denominator, rather than looking at the two numbers as separate pieces of information. Visualizing fractions is a key component to overall understanding. When students are learning math, there is a lot of mental processing happening. They need to be able to focus their attention, inhibit distractions, order tasks, recall information for their long-term memory, and integrate new concepts into an old schema. It is beneficial for students to give their working memories a break while learning new information, so as to better process it. This is where anchor charts come into play. Studies show that anchor charts and visual aids play a very important role in students being able to process new information.
At the beginning of our math lessons, students are asked to get their math journals to copy notes from the board. Writing new information down can help store these new skills in our working memories. This will further deepen our understanding of fractions.
After being introduced to a new concept, students then apply what they’ve learned. It’s important for young learners to be given time to interact independently with the new concept in different ways.
Another way to ensure student understanding is to allow students to explore these new concepts through a variety of modes. One engaging and fun way to practice our new skills is by playing math games.
We also introduced students to fractions through song. Students listened to and learned a rap about “Simplifying Fractions.” By catering to student interests and introducing the material in a way that is relatable, students are that much more likely to process and hold the information. All of this adds up to a better understanding of fractions, a mathematical concept with countless applications in everyday life that lays the groundwork for higher-order math courses in the future.
Ashley Kraft, MAT
4th/5th Grade Head Teacher