Skip to main content


4th Grade Math - Understanding Fractions

Clip 8/10: 4th Grade Lesson 3 - Part B


Michelle and her students work with a number line representation for a new fraction: 1 & 1/5. She identifies that a mixed-number fraction is a new concept for some students. She challenges them to create, consider, explain, and defend their number line representations to other students. With the fifth representation of a fraction, she gives students the choice of what representation makes the most sense to them. Most students select an area/ set model representation.

Teacher Commentary

MICHELLE MAKINSON: We regularly go over “what should an excellent answer look like? What was better about this answer? If I only put this, is that going far enough? What are the different patterns by which you can analyze whether or not you've given me enough?”

My mission was the word representation all summer before that year. We did things with representations. I had magazines: Let's make the cover of this. Our portrait of ourselves was some strange multi-media presentation of ourselves. Some people were minions and some people were purple aliens and some people were cats, just building that word representation. Literally the first two vocabulary word lists of the year (because I picked them myself) were -tion words and representation was one of those words from the first list—words that were going to keep coming back over and over again.

When you start doing something right in one place, it forces you to make those connections in all the other places. It becomes obvious what you need to do, some of it just basic academic language that we're going to need in order to have a clear and concise conversation about math. But the journey towards that ability, it's not specific to math.

Materials & Artifacts