Fraction Talk War

The most exciting thing about creating Fraction Talks has been the range of ways that teachers have morphed them into any number of engaging activities for students. I have done my best to keep up with the innovation, but it is becoming an impossible task! It has been inspiring to watch the collective creativity get to work on a what is becoming a global project.

Enter: Marie Brigham

Marie has her students play games of Fraction Talk War. When I first listened to the video she tweeted, I couldn’t believe the depth and variety of reasoning her fourth graders were using to make sense of the challenge. Take the time to watch the 2-minute video; it is amazing!


A couple of my thoughts after watching:

  • I see familiarity working on two levels in their action. First, the images naturally facilitate the actions of estimating, slicing, and counting. Second, the structure of the game of war is simple and familiar enough to proscribe the structure for action, yet not prescribe a predetermined pathway.
  • The game provides a low-prep / high-yield classroom activity. The Fraction Talk images can be matched in many different ways, and re-shaded when all combinations are exhausted.
  • The game is not competitive. The students organize their action collaboratively even though the rules of the game of war are originally designed to be competitive.
  • What if there were two decks?–one with shading, and another consisting entirely of blanks. The students would then have to decide how to shade the blank in order to induce a “war”.

Marie’s tweet has been one of the most popular ones ever to incorporate Fraction Talks, and it is a testament to the ingenuity of teachers as a whole. The images continue to be embedded into a variety of classrooms across the globe, and are providing an opportunity for students to develop a mathematical lens and voice. After listening to the video, consider how you might respond to the fourth graders. What might you do to trigger further thinking? Would you intervene at all, or just get lost alongside them in the possibilities?