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Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade


Summary

This practice guide presents five recommendations intended to help educators improve students’ understanding of fractions. Recommendations include strategies to develop young children’s understanding of early fraction concepts and ideas for helping older children understand the meaning of fractions and the computations involved. The guide also highlights ways to build on students’ existing strategies to solve problems involving ratios, rates, and proportions.

Recommendations

  Recommendation Level of Evidence
1. Build on students’ informal understanding of sharing and proportionality to develop initial fraction concepts.
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Recommendation 1 (6.1 MB)
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(4:45 minutes)

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Transcript (676 KB)
Minimal
2. Help students recognize that fractions are numbers and that they expand the number system beyond whole numbers. Use number lines as a central representational tool in teaching this and other fraction concepts from the early grades onward.
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Recommendation 2 (6.1 MB)
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(5:40 minutes)

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Transcript (502 KB)
Moderate
3. Help students understand why procedures for computations with fractions make sense.
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Recommendation 3 (6.1 MB)
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(6:09 minutes)

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Transcript (529 KB)
Moderate
4. Develop students’ conceptual understanding of strategies for solving ratio, rate, and proportion problems before exposing them to cross-multiplication as a procedure to use to solve such problems.
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Recommendation 4 (6.1 MB)
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(7:16 minutes)

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Transcript (521 KB)
Minimal
5. Professional development programs should place a high priority on improving teachers’ understanding of fractions and of how to teach them.
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Recommendation 5 (6.1 MB)
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(6:32 minutes)

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Transcript (800 KB)
Minimal
This practice guide was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica Policy Research under contract
ED-07-CO-0062.


The following research staff contributed to the guide: Jeffrey Max, Moira McCullough, Andrew Gothro, and Sarah Prenovitz.

These videos were prepared by WestEd under the Doing What Works Contract (ED-PEP-11-C-0068).
All videos are based on recommendations from the WWC practice guides and are designed to complement the guides.