Fraction Talks in the Primary Grades

One of the coolest experiences involved in curating a list of ideas on this site has been to see how people have altered them to fit their learners, classrooms contexts, and pedagogical stance.

This one came out of left-field for me.

I am a high school teacher, and enjoy Fraction Talks reasoning with grade nines and tens. (I’ve even used adapted trig Fraction talks for the upper grades). Jamie Duncan is a Grade 1 teacher. She has started documenting the fantastic conversations that Fraction Talks have occasioned with her learners. At first, I was going to summarize her set-up and successes, but I think it is better if you read them from the original source.

I do have some observations that I’d like to share:
  • Jamie originally felt the same way as me. I never imagined these images being suitable for such young students. If we give students a chance, we may be surprised.
  • Higher grades can benefit from the structure of the primary grades. I’m confident that one thing that eased entry into this thinking was the ecology of openness and curiosity in Jamie’s classroom room. It is much more rare to see this things in the upper grades; this is a fact that I have lamented previously.
  • The physical movement of pieces can help explain strategy. Jamie proscribes this action by allowing the cutting and re-arranging of shapes and the 1:1 scale printouts with pattern blocks.

This collaboration is exactly what I hoped for when I began to collect inspirations for the site. I never imaged Grade 1s attacking them so proficiently, but I should not have been so narrow sighted. I now await the next surprise.