Wednesday, 14 August 2013

OUT with the OLD and IN with the NEW. It’s time for FRACTIONS!

Today’s lesson caused quite a stir. People were debating over how fractions were taught eons ago and how it is being taught now or rather how we should be teaching it now. It is no secret that I struggled A LOT with mathematics. Needless to say, the topic on fractions was one of my least favourite things on the mathematics list. However, I came out of class today with a new perspective. Everything goes back to Jerome Bruner’s theory of concrete, pictorial and abstract. But first, before anything teaching and learning can be done, as educators, we need to let go of the following:

  1. torturing ourselves with memorizing everything
  2. following pre-set procedures
  3. doing tedious calculations
Once, we are able to let this go, especially the fact that we have to memorize the one billion formulas to solve equations, we can move on with time.

Fractions can be challenging for anyone especially a young learner. Therefore, as educators, it is our responsibility to ease children into understanding this “complex” concept. It is essential to know that children need to experience fractions across any construct. They need many experiences in estimating fractions. Teachers need help children see how fractions are like and different from whole number. Concrete experiences are important. Thus, the use of manipulatives to explore fractions is critical. It is also important that during this time to provide and encourage children to come up with a variety of ways to solve fractions.

I am thankful that the use of “formulas” to solve fraction has somewhat become obsolete. It was painful to have to remember all those “formulas” back in school. After participating in today’s activities using concrete and pictorial approach as well as coming up with different variation to solve a fraction problem, my fear of fractions is beginning to fade. I feel a lot more confident in doing fractions by myself and also have a better idea on how I can teach fractions.

With that, I would like to urge my fellow colleagues to leave our “formulas” behind and adopt this method of learning and teaching. Trust me, subtracting and multiplying fractions have never seems so manageable until today.

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