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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 

I Can't Teach Fractions

So I'm working with some kids this morning. The following questions comes up: Put the fractions in order from least to greatest - 1/4, 1/5, 1/8. Pretty simple eh?

Let's take a step back. I've been working with at-risk 3rd graders for the last 6 months and they have been improving their comprehension of reading and maths gradually. The program that I'm working on is a before-school program where the students pretty much work at their individual pace - no teaching, just hold onto your seats and hope for the best type of situation.

So getting back to the situation, I basically told this student to get the least common denominator (which for those that are little bit out of it is "40"). He said did not know what denominator was. I asked him if he knew what a numerator was - he didn't know either. Frustration started to kick in on my part. I drew pictures. I drew on his eraser to explain fractions. Nothing worked.

It really sucks for these kids where they come from messed up homes, parents who can't speak English, single parent homes, etc. I feel really bad for them. The teachers don't get a break either. They are stuck in a classroom of 30+ where they can only help 1 or 2 at a time. Somebody needs to fix this!

Any ideas on how to fix this?

BTW: In case you are wondering what I did to finish up the question... I told him the answer and we went on.