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4th Grade Math - Understanding Fractions

Clip 1/10: 4th Grade Lesson 1 - Part A


On the first day of the learning segment, Michelle Makinson engages her learners in a math talk focused on unit fractions, combining into wholes, and the ideas of “parts of,” and of equivalence—using manipulatives to create and explain a visual representation of a contextualized representation / word problem. Her students then share their solution strategies with their partners, explaining their approach.

Teacher Commentary

MICHELLE MAKINSON: Before this lesson sequence, I knew that they were able to identify unit fraction answers: "How much of the food was tuna?" But then you start to see that there are sets within the whole, and that helps lead you to an understanding of what an equivalent fraction would be. At the time that we took that particular task, maybe a few people were able to do that. Since then, we'd done a lot of work on building equivalents and seeing them visually, being able to match them up. This was an introduction to the idea of multiple representations and having students think about it in different ways.

They are used to creating justifications, in our school, in every context. You have to justify every scientific conclusion you come to. You have to justify every claim you're making about literature. And so, when I look at those mathematical practices, I don't think about them as being about mathematical practices. I think of them as guidelines for life — but then, I'm dorky like that. I don't look at it as math. It's literally telling you how to be a human being and how to get along in the world and how to define what you believe to be real and why you think it's real.