Learning Fractions

Fractions can be difficult to work with since they are intimidating and have their own set of rules. Many students struggle in math classes because they do not have a good grasp on fractions. It takes a while for it to click with some students but there a number of things to concentrate on when explaining fractions to them.

Focus on the parts of a fraction. A basic thing to remember is that a fraction is nothing more than a division problem that has not been worked out. It is easy to identify a fraction because it always has a numerator and a denominator separated by a line. One fourth or one over four is a fraction where the one is the numerator on top and the 4 is the denominator. The basic definition of what a fraction is should be second nature to a student.

The fraction is a way of representing things in the real world and examples should be used frequently. Ratios can be shown as fractions and are often the basis of setting up word problems. Students should be able to explore these relationships in motivating ways to gain confidence in dealing with fractions. A quarter has a value of 25 cents. There are four quarters in a dollar so one quarter is one fourth of a dollar. Looking at nickels there are 20 of them in a dollar so 1 nickel is worth 1 twentieth of a dollar. Anything that makes up a whole can be looked at as a fraction.

The mechanics need to be worked on so that students can work with the numbers mathematically. Division, multiplication, adding, subtracting, converting, reducing, all have rules that need to be covered.  These should be set up separately and explained in detail. The explanation should be visible, and audible to the whole class. The beginners should also have the opportunity to take notes with the example of the solution in hand. Animation and sound effects can make the explanation a memorable experience and keep the students engaged. Practice is essential to gain understanding so anything that motivates practice such as games is a good approach.

Fractions can be frustrating especially when first learning them. After learning the basics and understanding how to work with them the intimidation factor goes away. Division is a key when dealing with fractions. Adding and subtracting are where most people make mistakes because of the added step of making the denominators the same.