It took me years to figure out how to teach multiplying fractions so that students could conceptualize a part of a part. I learned that the traditional algorithm had to take a back seat to drawing and color coding models.
When teaching this unit, I’ve found that the most important tool for my students- is sharpened colored pencils. We draw models every day! I’ve also found that teaching students to multiply fractions in the context of situational story problems is a key component to deep conceptual understanding. I like to provide a choice board of differentiated story problems to students a few times throughout this unit.
One of the most effective ways I have found to differentiate while teaching multiplying fractions though, has been to flip my instruction. Once I have launched a new topic and students have spent a few class periods exploring, I like them to be able to move at their own pace. Gone are the days when that one student looked so bored because I was explaining number three to the whole class AGAIN! I have created a series of practice problems that students can move through at their own pace. If one student needs to review the first problem for 10 whole minutes, that’s fine!!!
How It Works
Students have a bank of six strategically chosen practice problems to solve. They attempt to solve a problem. Next, they click on the video link for that problem and watch and listen to me solve the problem. In that 1-3 minute video, I use precise math vocabulary and demonstrate more than one solution strategy. Students can watch and rewatch the video as many times as they need, without interrupting class. Every student that has ever worried about asking a question in class is put at ease! Students move through the rest of the practice problems at their own pace. Once students have finished, they may complete the Skills Quick Check Assessment. This is a short self-grading Google Form that gives me instant data about all of my students’ performance. I use this data to determine my plans for the next week. What questions do you have about how to teach multiplying fractions?