Wednesday, September 25, 2013


What divides the low performing math students from high performing ones is the ability ones is their ability to understand fractions. Until one understands fractions, there will be no learning of algebra. But how do you teach it? Previously dividing up pieces of a pie into halves, quarters, eighths was supposed to help illustrate what fractions we. But circles are hard to draw and does a fifth of a pie look that much bigger than a sixth?
New research shows using number lines is more effective Some kids have trouble grasping that 1/2 is bigger than 1/3 as 3 seems to be a bigger number than 2. And when you multiply fractions, you end up with a smaller number, another difficult to grasp concept.

In high school, I tutored algebra. Fortunately I had bright students that already understood fractions. I took a job fresh out of college teaching GED math. I  had no experience with adults. What do they know? I did my student teaching in AP chemistry and regular chemistry.High grades in algebra (and geometry though not necessary useful) were a prerequisite.

My adult students were a mixed lot. Only one was younger than myself and she already had 3 kids. Some did not even know their time tables. Most could make change. No one except my star knew how to handle  fractions. My star was a former juvenile delinquent who kept being placed in remedial classes due to low grades. However he was quite bright and I got him through at least a semester of algebra, good enough to score  in the high 90%tiles. For the rest, I drew circles dividing them up and having them color in the proper fractions. Some understood, most did not.

INTERVENTION: So Julie's OB does not believe in letting his patients go a week beyond their due date. This baby therefore WILL be born on or before October 4th. She has dilated a little bit more but no contractions. She goes in Monday for a fetal stress test and it will be decided what the plan of attack will be then if she doesn't have the baby before then.

A beautiful day again. Some of the maples are turning red. I almost fell down on my bike ride. The bike ramps here are not well designed and my bottom bracket is very low. I wasn't careful to keep my pedals in a neutral position  during a steep turn  and my pedal caught on the side of the ramp.

Ms. Maya actually was happy to go on the bus today. When she waved and blew kisses to Naomi in the parking lot, all the other little kids started to too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like I always say: Fractions is the Math "F" word


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