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Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade


"A high percentage of U.S. students lack conceptual understanding of fractions, even after studying fractions for several years. The Practice Guide "Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade" offers evidence-based recommendations for improving students' understanding of fractions. The guide is based on an extensive review of the literature and is designed for educators who work with students in kindergarten through 8th grade, when almost all instruction in fractions takes place.

The guide addresses early developing concepts of fractions, computation with fractions, and the more advanced topics of ratio, rate, and proportion. The panel's recommendations reflect the perspective that conceptual understanding of fractions is essential for students to learn about the topic, to remember what they learned, and to apply this knowledge to solve problems involving fractions. The guide provides detailed information for implementing five recommendations: (1) Build on students' informal understanding of sharing and proportionality to develop initial fraction concepts; (2) Help students recognize that fractions are numbers and that they expand the number system beyond whole numbers. Use number lines as a central representational tool in teaching this and other fraction concepts from the early grades onward; (3) Help students understand why procedures for computations with fractions make sense; (4) Develop students' conceptual understanding of strategies for solving ratio, rate, and proportion problems before exposing them to cross-multiplication as a procedure to use to solve such problems; and (5) Professional development programs should place a high priority on improving teachers' understanding of fractions and of how to teach them. Each recommendation includes a summary of supporting research, implementation strategies, and potential roadblocks and solutions."


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