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It is widely agreed that fractions are an essential part of the middle years

mathematical content and are an integral part of mathematical proficiency (Clarke,

Roche & Mitchell, 2008; Vukovic et al., 2014). Fractions, both support the

development of proportional reasoning and provides an important foundation for

future mathematics study, including algebra and probability (Clarke et al., 2008;

Spangler, 2011). Therefore, the aim for teaching fractions is not for its practical

real world application, but mainly as a foundation for further learning and

scaffolding other mathematical concepts (Hurrell, 2013). However, despite its

importance in mathematical learning, research suggests that fractions are a major

source of difficulty in mathematics for many students (Vukovic, 2014). According to

Van de Walle (2012), Fractions have always represented a considerable challenge

for students (p. 293). Not only do studies claim that fractions are difficult to learn

but also that students often struggle to retain prior fraction learning experiences

and unable to recognize accurate visual representations of fractions (Groff, 1996;

Ploger & Rooney, 2005).

understand student reasoning, difficulties and misconceptions when it came to

fractions (via Bruce & Ross, 2009). In the investigation, students had to

demonstrate one half, one third and one sixth on a circle model. They found that

most students were successful when it came to shading in one half of a circle,

however one third and one sixth received a variety of answers. The large majority

of the students showed a number of pieces approach to shading the fractions in

the circle and most errors suggested that students were using counting strategies

to assist in their partitioning. For example, one student partitioned a circle into 8

sections and then shaded 6 of these to represent 1/6 (Bruce & Ross, 2009, p. 3).

Educators and researchers agree that this difficulty is an issue and have explored

possible explanations. The following explanations have been highlighted: 1)

fractions are not used in daily life regularly; 2) the written notation of fractions is

complicated; 3) too much time is devoted to teaching the procedures of

manipulating rational numbers and too little time is spent teaching their conceptual

meaning; 4) when introduced, rational numbers are not sufficiently differentiated

from whole numbers; (Bruce & Ross, 2009, p. 3) 5) the design of instruction is

usually not engaging for students (Bruce & Ross, 2009).

concept of fractions, ratios and proportionality, largely due to the concept of

sharing (Hurrell, 2013; Vukovic et al., 2014; Ploger & Rooney, 2005). However, there

is a chance that the concepts they have developed are partially developed or

misunderstood. Research shows that students have misconceptions that stem from

their previous knowledge that interferes with their understanding of rational

number (Martinie, 2005, p. 6). Hence, it is important that understanding fractions

as a concept precedes asking students to perform operations with them (Hurrell,

2013; Clarke et al., 2008; Spangler, 2011).

number bias; where the students apply their understanding of whole numbers to

solving fractions (Vukovic et al., 2014). This overgeneralisation is problematic

because leads to a difficulty in understanding. For example, in whole numbers each

number in the sequence is greater in size than the previous number (5 follows 4),

however in fractions this is not the case (1/4 is larger than 1/5) (Vukovic et al.,

2014). This is a common misconception made by students. As well as this, Naiser,

Wright and Capraro (2004) found that teachers have struggled to engage students

in fraction learning and that a significant portion of class time is using pencil-paper

techniques and rote learning (via Bruce & Ross, 2009). According to Ploger and

Rooney (2005), a deeper understanding of fractions is achieved through an

emphasis on understanding rather than memorisation and the inclusion of visual

models and hands-on activities and tools, such as paper folding, Cuisenaire rods

and even computer programs (Clarke et al., 2008).

other mathematical concepts. In order to improve student understanding and

success with fractions conceptual understanding should be developed before

computational fluency (Cramer et al., 2002 via Spangler, 2011, p. 112).

Part Two: Critical discussion regarding links with curriculum

documentation (300 words)

When teaching fractions, the research above highlighted that a common error

made is not enough focus is placed on students understanding fractions as a

concept and moving students to computation with fractions too quickly (Clarke, et

al., 2008). This research is obviously considered in the Victorian Curriculum, as

computation with fractions isnt introduced until level five and it is only the addition

and subtraction of fractions in primary school learning. The scope and sequence of

the Victorian curriculum for teaching fractions focuses on providing students with a

clear understanding of fractions first and then offers the support for students to

progress to computation. Fractions are not introduced in the curriculum until level

one, however the foundations of fractional thinking are introduced earlier in

foundation level- represent practical situations to model sharing (Victorian

Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2016). In level one, there is a focus on

developing some of the concepts of fractions students already have, particularly

sharing and 1/2. Similarly to the research above, the Victorian curriculum

emphasises the use of visual models and hands-on activities and tools, particularly

paper folding and representing fractions on a number line.

fractions, there are still areas that need improvement. According to research into

possible explanations of the difficulty of fractions for students, it is important for

fractions to be seen as relevant and used regularly, as well as a greater focus in

understanding the written notation of fractions. Also, teachers need to take the

time to differentiate fractions from whole numbers to avoid any conceptual

confusion. These areas are not specified in the curriculum and need to be a focus in

order for there to be an improvement in how difficult and confusing fractions are for

students.

Part Three: Planning for learning of the mathematics content area (1000

words)

Include your plan using the template below.

MATHEMATICS UNIT PLANNER Teacher/Team:

Topic: Equivalent Fractions Year Level: 4 Term: 2 Week: 3 Date: 18/04/2016

Intended Learning Focus/Intentions (taken directly from Victorian Curriculum documents):

Content strand(s): Number and Algebra Measurement and Geometry Statistics and Probability

Sub-strand(s): Fractions and Decimals

Investigate equivalent fractions used in contexts (VCMNA157).

Compare and order common fractions and locate and represent them on a number line (VCMNA187).

Proficiency strand(s):

Understanding Fluency Problem Solving Reasoning

Students will understand that fractions can be equivalent in Students will use there fractional thinking to solve unfamiliar problems.

size even if they look different. Students can partition a whole into parts.

Students will connect the partitioning of simple fractions to Students can compare and order simple fractions.

equivalent fractions. Students will justify and explain their mathematical thinking.

Students will describe their mathematical thinking.

Common misconceptions (related to the Success criteria - Key skills to develop Equipment / resources:

mathematical idea/topic): and practise (observable capabilities) Interactive White board

Coloured paper strips (all same length)

Partition strips into fractions

Understand equivalent fractions as a Maths books

rule, such as multiply or divide the Order fractions on a number line Writing utensils

numerator and denominator of a Cuisenaire rods

Use representations and resources to

fraction by the same number (Wong & Computers/iPads

Evans, 2011, p. 82). This can lead to assist in problem-solving, such as

Cuisenaire rods, play dough. Play dough

students applying the rule even when

Simple fraction cards

it is inappropriate.

Students think that the numerator and String

denominator are separate values (Van Key vocabulary: Pegs

de Walle, Karp & Bay-Williams, 2012). Proper Fraction Assessing Students Understanding of Fraction

This means that when students look at Equivalence by Monica Wong & David Evans

equivalent fractions that they will not Equivalent

Fraction Fiddle: comparing unit fractions.

see them as the same value and see Numerator http://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/viewing/L2802/index.ht

the numbers separate values. ml

Students use whole number bias Denominator

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiCUCqiWOlo

when comparing fractions. For

Partition

example when comparing 1/4 and 1/5

students will think that 1/5 is a larger Equally share

fraction as 5 is bigger than 4 (Vukovic

et al., 2014). Greater than, less than, same as

Students use the rule that the bigger

the number on the bottom, the bigger

the fraction. This results in ordering

fractions incorrectly. Eg. Think that 1/6

is bigger than 1/2 (Vukovic et al.,

2014).

fraction depends solely on the number

at the bottom (denominator) and you

can ignore the top (numerator). Eg. To

think that 1/4 is bigger than 7/8

(Clarke et al., 2008).

MATHEMATICAL TUNING IN INVESTIGATIONS REFLECTION & ADAPTATIONS ASSESSMENT

FOCUS (The Hook) SESSION MAKING STRATEGIES

A task is presented that is - Enabling prompts

(As individuals or co- CONNECTIONS

relevant to the focus of the Scaffolding strategies to

What do you want students to operative groups) This section should include the

understand and/or be able to lesson; sets the scene/ context An extended opportunity for SESSION support students who are source of data (e.g. work

for what students do in the (As a whole class) having difficulty making

do by the end of the lesson? students to work on a rich, samples, individual

independent individual or co- The whole class shares progress on the task. This must

Note that the same focus may open ended task. Time for conferences, test scripts,

operative group part, e.g., the approaches to the task. The include key questions.

be used over several linked teacher to observe childrens physical models, interviews,

hook may be a problem, an teacher selects students or - Extending prompts

lessons. thinking, to manage task self-assessments) and the focus

open-ended question, a game, groups to share, poses Scaffolding strategies to

behaviour, rove and interact of the assessment as a

a picture of artefact, a film or questions and summarise ideas support student who make

with students, or work with a Students can statement

youtube clip , a story, etc. to draw out the mathematics substantial progress on the task

small group for part of the time. (aligns to focus).

and assist children to make and need to advance their Note: Sessions need not have

connections. NB. This may thinking further. This must different assessments, one

occur at several points during a include changes to the task and strategy may operate for the

lesson followed by more key questions. whole unit.

investigation

To assess prior Give the students 8 In pairs, using their Enable prompt: Observe how students

Session 1 knowledge of strips of coloured fraction wall, the Students can use partition the strips.

Creating a Fraction fractions, brainstorm paper (all same students will make Cuisenaire rods or a Observe class and

Wall and making on what fractions are length). Specify one connections and find completed fraction peer discussions,

connections. and how we use them colour and ask the relationships between wall to assist in the particularly listening

in everyday life. Eg. students to hold it up. the fractions. The task. for the vocabulary

Sharing a chocolate One strip will students will write Which part are used throughout.

bar in half with a represent one whole, these relationships you finding

friend. then ask the students down in their books. difficult?

to fold each strip in to Eg. One whole is the What does this Students can partition

equal halves, thirds, same as 2/2, 4/4, 8/8 fraction a whole into simple

forths, sixths and etc, 1/2 = 2/4. Class mean/represent? fractions and make

eighths. Students will discussion on their Refer to the connections to

label each strip findings. The teacher whole equivalence.

according to their highlights that these

fractional connections are Extending prompt:

representation. equivalent fractions. Have students fold

Students will then With the assistance of the strip into fifths

place the strips into a the students, the and sevenths.

fraction wall, so the teacher will write up What fractions are

size of the fractions some common similar?

can be compared. equivalent fractions What connections

on the board for

can you find?

future reference.

Remind students Give students a The class discusses Enable prompt: Observe students

Session 2 about what we did fractional problem answers, Students may use through roving

Investigating last lesson and solving activity using demonstrates how their fraction wall conferences.

equivalent equivalent fractions. cuisenaire rods they reached their from the previous

fractions. Students watch (Appendix 1). The solution and makes lesson to assist. Students can problem

youtube clip on teacher will explain connections between What have you solve using the

equivalent fractions. the problem and give answers and done so far? Cuisenaire rods and

https://www.youtube.c an example before equivalent fractions. How would you make connections to

om/watch? the students start the explain this? equivalence.

v=BiCUCqiWOlo task individually. The Can you explain

students have to your answer?

come up with as Extending prompt:

many solutions as Students will be given

possible (Boucher, an extension task to

2014). do with the problem

(Appendix 1).

Missing number- Students each have Once the students Enable prompt: Observe and take

Session 3 equivalence. Give coloured play dough have completed the Students may use anecdotal notes of the

Investigating and students an on their desks. Using Kookaburra task, they their fraction wall students throughout

making expression between the play dough as a must work out the from the previous the activity and how

connections to two fractions but with tool, in pairs, the equivalent fractions lesson to assist. they come to their

equivalent number missing. students have to find for the answer and How are you going answer.

fractions Students are to solve the solution to the represent it. The class to partition your

the missing number, following problem: shares answers. worms? Explain Students can partition

using mini There are four hungry Are all parts a whole into simple

whiteboards to draw Kookaburras and only equal? fractions and make

and calculate. three worms. Share Extending prompt: connections to

the worms equally Add more equivalence.

Eg. between the kookaburras and

5/3 = ?/6 2/3= 6/? Kookaburras so that worms to the question

8/12=?/3 9/12=3/? they all can eat. How to make it harder. Eg.

much worm does Five kookaburras and

each kookaburra get? four worms to share.

Students are Do you notice an

suggested to roll the patterns forming?

play dough into

worms to assist with

the task (Wright,

2016).

Using a problem- The students will then Class reflects upon Enable prompt: Observe and take

Session 4 solving task, the practice this through the activity. The class Students can use anecdotal notes of the

Comparing simple teacher introduces an online game discusses using a Cuisenaire rods or a students throughout

fractions. comparing fractions Fraction Fiddle: number line to completed fraction the activity and class

to the class. The comparing unit represent fractions. wall to assist in the discussion.

teacher and students fractions. Using the fractions task.

will complete the task http://www.scootle.ed from the problem- How does the Students can

together using a u.au/ec/viewing/L2802 solving task at the models in the compare simple

fraction wall to assist. /index.html beginning of the game assist in fractions using length

The task is: The horse lesson, place the answering the models and number

and a cow are very This game allows the fractions on a number question? lines.

hungry. Each gets one students to compare line as a class. What do you

bale of hay. The cow simple fractions, as think?

eats two-thirds of the well as represents Extending prompt:

hay and the horse them using length The online game can

eats three-fifths of the models and number be placed at a higher

hay. Who eats more lines. level, hence more

hay, the cow or the challenging fractions

horse? (Wright, 2016) will be used.

How does a

number line help

you answer the

question?

Teacher has two The students are Students will share Enable prompt: Observe students

Session 5 simple fractions- 1/3 placed into groups of their number lines to Students may use through roving

Comparing and and 1/4. As a class, four and are given the class and justify it. their fraction walls conferences. Take

ordering simple work together to cards with simple Teacher will assist to and Cuisenaire rods to note of their

fractions, represent both fractions on it, string achieving the correct assist them in the strategies, vocabulary

including fractions on a number and some pegs. The order if necessary. task. and how they

equivalent line. Teacher shows students, using their Students will then Where is the explain/justify.

fractions. the class two different fraction walls, have to reflect upon the task. beginning of the

fractions- 1/2 and 4/8. place the cards onto number line? Students can

Teacher asks What the string in the Where is the end? compare and order

do we notice about correct order as if it is Have you simple fractions on a

these two fractions?. a number line. The compared the number line.

Teacher prompts students will then fractions first?

students towards write why they order Extending prompt:

equivalent fractions. the fractions the way Include more

they did and how they challenging fractions

did it. Teacher will for students to order.

move between groups Are they in the

providing assistance.

right order? Justify

References

Boucher, D. (2014, February 14). Fractions on a number line with Cuisenaire Rods

[Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.mathcoachscorner.com/2014/02/fractions-

on-a-number-line-with-cuisenaire-rods/

Bruce, C. D., & Ross, J. (2009). Conditions for Effective Use of Interactive On-line

Learning Objects: The case of a fractions computer- based learning sequence. The

Electronic Journal of Mathematics and Technology, 3(1), 12-29.

Clarke, D. M., Roche, A., & Mitchell, A. (2008). 10 Practical Tips for Making Fractions

Come Alive and Make Sense. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 13(7),

373-379.

Groff, P. (1996). Is Teaching Fractions a Waste of Time?. The Clearing House: A Journal

of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 69(3), 177-179.

teaching of fractions in primary schools. Retrieved from

http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/596

constructing a model of the interrelated skills and concepts. Retrieved from

https://www.math.ksu.edu/math791/finalpaper/sherriterm2.pdf

Ploger, D., & Rooney, M. (2008). Teaching Fractions: Rules and Reason. Teaching

Children Mathematics, 12(1), 12-17.

Smart Learning for All. (2005). Equivalent Fractions for Kids [video file]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiCUCqiWOlo

Spangler, D. B. (2011). Strategies for Teaching Fractions: Using Error Analysis for

Intervention and Assessment. California, USA: Corwin.

The Learning Federation. (2011). Fraction fiddle: comparing unit fractions [video file].

Retrieved from https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/viewing/L2802/index.html

Van de Walle, J. A., Karp, K. S., & Bay- Williams, J. M. (2012). Elementary and Middle

School Mathematics- Teaching Developmentally. USA: Allyn & Bacon.

Retrieved from http://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/mathematics/curriculum/f-

10

Vukovic, R. K., Geary, D. C., Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S., Jordan, N. C., & Siegler, R. S.

(2014). Sources of Individual Differences in Childrens Understanding of Fractions.

Child Development, 85(4), 1461-1476.

Equivalence. In Fractions: Teaching for Understanding (pp. 81-90). Adelaide,

Australia: The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers Inc.

Wright, V. (2016). Lecture 4: Rational Number Fractions [PowerPoint slides].

Retrieved from https://leo.acu.edu.au/course/view.php?id=20661§ion=8

Appendix 1:

Using the Cuisenaire rods, find out what Z is on the number line. Come up

with as many solutions possible.

EXAMPLE:

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