“What is a fraction?” asked Denise Pusateri, JPS Mathematics Coordinator, to a group of 5th and 6th grade teachers. The question may seem to have an easy answer but with the new Common Core Learning Standards, JPS understands that teachers need help to develop a deeper level of conceptual understanding with fractions and then, take that knowledge back to the classroom to help students learn this important math concept.
Mrs. Pusateri and JPS Instructional Coach, Chad Bongiovanni, offered a full day workshop to fifth and sixth grade teacher on fractions and plan to offer workshops later in the year to third and fourth grade teachers
“Many of the JPS fifth and sixth grade math teachers are experiencing the Common Core Math Modules for the first time this year due to a change in their teaching assignment,” said Mrs. Pusateri. “The models that are used for fractions are tape diagrams and number lines. It is very important for teachers to see the coherence in how fractions are developed throughout the previous grade levels. Students will continue to come to middle school with a better grasp of number sense and will be able to transfer this from whole numbers to fractions. By providing professional development, we are helping teachers to be prepared in their classroom for this increased knowledge.”
The Common Core Standards for Fractions are developed beginning in second grade. Fractions formally begin in third grade with equivalence and comparing. Fourth grade builds off of this knowledge to continue finding equivalent fractions, comparing them, and add and subtract those fractions that have the same unit, or denominator. Fifth grade students add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators and multiply fractions by other fractions. Sixth graders learn to divide fractions by fractions.
“During this progression, students will not be starting with the standard algorithm that teachers and parents were first taught in school,” said Mrs. Pusateri. “We will build the student’s conceptual knowledge with models before we lead them to the traditional method. The big difference is that they will now understand what is meant by adding fractions with different units, as opposed to only solving the problem for the right answer.”