Fabulous in Fifth Grade

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Equivalent Fraction name tags

A few weeks ago, I learned a shocking statistic. Fractions are traditionally the weakest area in mathematics in America. In fact, on the 2004 NAEP fewer than 30% of 17-year-olds correctly translated 0.029 as 29/1000. True to this statistic, the students in my class have vocalized their fear of fractions repeatedly to me. “They’re just hard, Mrs. B!” One girl said to me. Most of the other students nodded in agreement, supporting her statement. I was surprised to find that only three students in the class could correctly describe to me what a “denominator” was beyond “the number on the bottom of a fraction.” I took a giant step back from our 5th grade curriculum, and did a few days of fraction intervention. Today, we had “equivalent fraction day.” The students all got a name tag with a fraction on it. The students adopted this name for the day. Here is the kicker though- they had to simplify the fraction before they could say it! For instance, my name tag said 33/36, but the students called me Mrs. 11/12. How fun! Once we all received our name tags and simplified our own fractions, the students raced around the room and tried to simplify as many of the fraction names as they could. The student with the most, won some “hoot loot” – our classroom currency. We had a fun day!

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Shocking Statistic

Today, I attended a math conference put on by Pearson Education, who presumably invited people from my district since we have recently adopted their elementary math program enVisionMATH. I was surprised and pleased at the amount of real life information and strategies provided. The one thing that stuck with me was the importance of fraction education. Did you know that on the 2004 NAEP fewer than 30% of 17-year-olds correctly translated 0.029 as 29/1000?  Completely shocked and blown away. Clearly our fraction decimal relationship instruction is lacking, as teachers. My personal new goal is to find new ways to address this! More to come…