Friday, February 14, 2014

I Hate Fractions!

I think I have never met a student who claims to be proficient in fraction concepts and operations.  More often than not, I am met with the title of this post.  Why do you think that so many students feel inadequate when it comes to fractions. 

I met with a student today who loved long division but would not even talk about fractions.  "Could I use a calculator?" she asked.  My students do not generally use calculators in sessions.  I assure success by using student friendly numbers to teach concepts. We use calculators to check answers, to teach concepts such as transformations of functions or in cases where it simply makes sense not to struggle with complex solutions to function applications. We need a more exact answer. 

So why is it that so many students do not feel confident with fractions?  We all need to ask ourselves this question. What is it that we are doing right and what is it that we are not quite conveying?  So much of higher math depends on an understanding of fractions. We need to consider what the research is telling us (circular models are better introduction) and there is a need to move from the concrete to the abstract for many students.  They need to understand the concepts before they begin to push numbers around in operations they do not understand.  In my workshops and courses, I keep hearing the following statement, "I wish I had been taught this way."  Or, "I know how to tell them to get an answer.  I just can't tell them why it works." 

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