Irritated by paper aeroplanes being thrown in your
classroom? It happens to all of us during out teaching career at one time or
another, some ‘character’, usually a boy, has learnt how to make a paper
aeroplane and uses your class to demonstrate his new found skill. I am always
amazed at the poor level of construction of these missiles; they are usually
just successive folds along a central axis, a demonstration of symmetry. My dad
taught me a far more intricate and aesthetically pleasing method but I’m not
sure if it flew as far as the, in my opinion, inferior models.
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Thursday, 20 June 2013
What is a decimal?
A difficult question
Fractions to decimals |
We have all at one time or another thought ‘decimals should
be easy to understand’. After all no matter where we are in the world money is
based upon the decimal system, which child has not experienced that? Yet if you
ask a student what is the value of 7 in 0.12379 the answers given will probably
be not what you want.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Comparing fractions (part 2)
Comparing fractions (part 2)
How do you compare fractions with different denominators? Comparing fractions is a nightmare for pupils and teachers.
This is a very difficult subject to teach and probably an even worse topic to
learn. Put this on an examination paper and you will separate the wheat from
the chaff, and mostly it will be chaff. How can we be more successful and not
have to teach it year after year to the same pupils.
Comparing fractions - how many segments? |
Monday, 10 June 2013
Fractions - is that pizza for me (slice 2)?
Fractions – is that pizza for me (slice 2)?
What fraction of the pizza am I getting? |
Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Comparing fractions (part 1)
Comparing fractions (part 1)
Comparing fractions |
How do you compare fractions? Who has not struggled with learning or teaching comparing
fractions? Ask a child (or even an adult) which is bigger 3/4 or 5/7 and you’ll
be met with a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders, lets be honest it is
difficult.
Why do people have such difficulty with fractions and even more so comparing them? Perhaps they do not comprehend that a fraction is just part of a whole and have not had enough practical experience beyond 1/2, 1/4, etc. They need to involve themselves in dealing uncommon fractions such as 5/7, 4/9 and so on.
Below is how I tackle this problem, there is no rushing this activity and it could take several lessons to achieve good results but it is worth it. Once established it will provide a firm foundation for further work.
Why do people have such difficulty with fractions and even more so comparing them? Perhaps they do not comprehend that a fraction is just part of a whole and have not had enough practical experience beyond 1/2, 1/4, etc. They need to involve themselves in dealing uncommon fractions such as 5/7, 4/9 and so on.
Below is how I tackle this problem, there is no rushing this activity and it could take several lessons to achieve good results but it is worth it. Once established it will provide a firm foundation for further work.
Sunday, 2 June 2013
Fractions – is that pizza for me (slice 1)?
Have you ever wanted to improve the pupils learning and your
teaching of fractions? I have and I have probably taught fractions the same way
as everyone else, but I still had children who did not fully understand what a
fraction is, just like everyone else. How many metaphorical pizzas have been used each day during Maths lessons up and down the land? Yet our pupils have the same misconceptions year after year, despite using their favourite food. What is the
problem? What was I doing wrong? What is to be done?
Another fraction of a pizza |
The problem
If you give a diagram like the one below and ask the
question what fraction is shaded? What fraction is unshaded? How many children
would give the answers 2/8 and 6/8, probably most, but can they make the leap
to ¼ and ¾? They find this really difficult and need lot of questioning and
prompting to see the equivalence.
Another issue is when you ask a student to share 4 chocolate
bars between say 5 friends and ask how much do they each get. It takes some
time before a 12 year old for example realises it is 4/5. (Perhaps I am being a
bit optimistic there.)
As the pupil get older they are introduced to ratio. Do they
ever see the link between a ratio of 2:3 and the fractions 2/5 and 3/5?
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