I am so glad to have gotten a few “normal” school days with your children last week after winter break, snow days, and early dismissals! Since our return from break, we have been working on fraction concepts. The class has divided area and linear models into equal shares, has explored finding fractional pieces of collections, and used spatial reasoning to identify different mystery fractions of whole areas. I have been incredible impressed with their abilities in these areas, but I suppose I should not be surprised by their abilities because we have been working on foundational skills for these concepts since first grade. This entire week we have been identifying fractional pieces using fraction words like one eighth or four tenths. Next week, we will definite the terms numerator and denominator and work towards using the symbolic representation for fractions. Once we have a solid understanding of how to write these symbols we will be begin to add and subtract fractions with like denominators, identify and write mixed numbers, and reduce fractions.
I have to say that I held my own personal anxieties about fractions. In my elementary education experience, I remember looking at a workbook that had a chapter on fractions which jumped straight to circles cut into pieces with fractions written underneath. I did not have experiences to self discover the relationship between fractions and then as the work with them increase in complexity I had no number sense scaffolding of fractions to build these concepts upon. As a result, I just had to blinding memorize the algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and diving fractions. I feel as though that is where the math train began to derail for me. After that, most mathematics was blinding memorizing which continued to work well enough to get good grades but left me feeling constantly as if I were stumbling around in the dark when it came to mathematics. Once I reached Algebra, it began to get too difficult to memorize all the steps without any understanding behind them and I didn’t advance a great
deal past Algebra II in high school. I really regret the missed opportunity to form a meaningful relationship with mathematics during those years, and I feel to privileged to be able bring the building blocks for mathematics success to your children.