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.
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.
Moderate
3. Help students understand why procedures for computations with fractions make sense.
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.