At the little country college that I went to, I was never really taught “how” to teach the different concepts in math. I’m not sure how other colleges’ math education programs are, but for me it was all about the “math” and very little about how to teach any math concepts. I learned a lot of general information about behavior, how to run a copy machine, how to make tests, blah, blah, blah. There were so many things that I still had to figure out on my own. I learned all of the different ways to differentiate equations and all other concepts that jr high students won’t be learning for years. By the time I finished college, I had totally forgotten all of the basic math that I would be teaching. I had forgotten how I had actually learned it as well. Either way, I can promise you that I never learned the “why’s” of what I was learning for sure. It took me several years to finally figure out all of this teaching business. Once I got out of the “traditional” teaching methods, teaching became so much more fun. Over the last few years, I have learned that if you teach students concepts starting from scratch….. they understand it without frustration and without confusion. Almost all of my lessons start with a concrete hands-on activity, a pictorial activity, and then a fun game to play. By the time we get to the pictorial representation of whatever concept we are learning, I have several students asking for “hard” questions. It always makes me smile when I am able to tell them that they don’t get any harder.
The same goes with how I teach students how to change mixed numbers to improper fractions and vice versa. I use fraction strips. We use the fraction strips, then we draw the representations, and then we play a game. I see so many lessons for fractions that use circles. I use rectangles. Maybe I’m not as talented as some, but I have a difficult time dividing circles into larger, odd numbers. I can easily divide a rectangle into any number of pieces with little difficulty. I have written up the way I teach this lesson, I made printable fraction strips, and an extremely cool file folder game for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and here on my blog. Here are a few pictures and explanations of the things I did this last week.
We’ll start with the super cool fraction strips I made to use for my whiteboard. Here is a picture of the final product.
I printed, laminated, and cut out the pieces. At the beginning of school, I found an amazing product…….. magnet tape. I found it at Lakeshore Learning Center and at Mardel’s. I’m sure they probably have it at Hobby Lobby as well. I put a small piece of that magnet tape on the back of each of the pieces. I wrote numbers on the board and had students come up and model it with the pieces. Students, especially in my co-taught class, absolutely loved doing this! Click on the picture below to download these fraction strips for your magnetized board for FREE!!
Here are some pictures of my process……..
Magnet tape and the backs of the pieces
To prepare my students to learn about fractions, I printed out fraction strips. I totally meant to print them on colored card stock, but forgot to go buy some. I didn’t have enough colored paper to copy all of the pages I needed (over a hundred students, and three pages a student is a lot). I bought quart size baggies and double-sided tape.
Before class, I put a piece of double-sided tape down the sides of each of the baggies. I left the white strips on until I was ready to put them in the back of my students’ spiral notebooks.
As my students were cutting out their fraction strips, I had them bring me their spirals and I taped them onto the back cover.
Here are a couple of pictures of what one of my students put in her spiral notebook for the lesson.
Here is a link to buy my lesson for teaching students how to change mixed numbers to improper fractions and vice versa. It also includes a super cute and fun file folder “board game” to help reinforce the concept.