This post will focus on ideas and resources to teach fractions for upper grades. The thrill of learning fractions comes with some internal questioning of will I know what to do? Students sometimes verbalize their anxiety about fractions, but many try to hide their uncertainty with this content. For this reason, and because we always want to provide the best instructional practices, we teach fractions in many different ways. When we approach the content of fractions from many *angles*, ahem…, we provide exposure of the content numerous times for different modalities.
FRACTIONS FOR UPPER GRADES
Let’s take a moment to understand how students learn fractions from the beginning. Students first begin to learn and hear about fractions in first grade. This is done through an understanding of partitioning shapes, parts of a whole, and equal shares. Below are examples of how this is taught with some activities from First Grade Stations by Standard and Intervention Solution for Geometry.
By second grade students typically name fractions by the number of equal parts and can write a fraction to show shaded parts of a whole. These examples below come from Make it Another Way and Stations by Standard Second Grade.
CATCHING STUDENTS UP WITH FRACTIONS
When students are missing this foundation of understanding, it is important to provide opportunities to learn these prerequisite skills. For the upper grades, we can fit this in as a math warm-up. Using one of the provided examples above, allow students to hold a number talk or math discussion. A number talk on these basic fraction skills is a powerful tool that exposes all students to foundational skills. In this way, we are using the anticipatory set of our learning block as a reteach moment. Just a few minutes on this each day will provide students with missing skills an opportunity to gain understanding.
THIRD GRADE FRACTION UNDERSTANDING
In third grade, students will compare different fractions in size and create equivalent fractions. This skill set can be difficult to do without providing multiple tools for modeling fractions. Beginning in the concrete, we want students to build, stack, and compare fractions in order to compare their sizes. We can also provide representations of fractions with number lines and picture models. Below in these fraction centers, students use tools for understanding.
Learning progresses into pictorial and abstract understanding when students can begin to find comfort in the size of different common fractions through repeated practice. This happens over time. It is important to spiral review fractions activities throughout the school year once they have been taught. The examples below are from Stations by Standard Fractions for Third Grade.
FRACTIONS IN FOURTH GRADE
Fourth grade fractions are not for the weak. Students can now simplify a fraction using their multiplication and division skills. Mixed numbers are a larger part of the learning. Different denominators, comparing, and ordering fractions are all a part of the process. In order to continually practice and apply these skills, we show up for students with fun fraction practice and opportunities to use those concrete and pictorial models as often as possible. Below are just a few of the fun Stations by Standard Fourth Fraction activities.
FIFTH GRADE FRACTIONS
Fifth grade fractions require students to use all four operations with fractions. Mixed numbers, whole numbers, and fractions with different denominators are all a part of the mix. For this reason, we continue to provide ways for students to work using fraction models and manipulatives. Students can use their knowledge to draw, build, simplify, rename, and solve fraction problems. These Stations by Standards Fifth Grade Activities make solving different problems hands-on.
FRACTIONS LESSONS FOR THE UPPER GRADES
Above we shared workstations for hands-on fraction fun and application. If you are also looking for whole group mini-lessons and teacher-led small group materials to teach fractions in the upper grades, we have Guided Math Fractions Units. Each unit comes with 20 standards-aligned lessons including quizzes and assessments for fractions.
Take a look at other topics for grades 3-5 with this recent post on Upper-Grade Math Stations.