My original blog post on Fraction Talks can be found here.

Fraction Talks are a built around classroom talk and student action. These two principles guide the teacher’s questions, disposition, and facilitation of the activity. They can be become a daily routine, or used for entire lessons.

One common structure is much like a number talk. I project an image, choose a section to be shaded, and ask students, “What fraction is shaded?”. Students develop an answer (and reasoning) individually, and signal to me when they are done (usually with a thumbs up). I then extend invitations to share.

As they get comfortable with this, I usually have them do it in small groups with increasingly elaborate diagrams. The questions shift to involve more student choice. Instead of, “What fraction is shaded?” I may ask:

  • Can you shade a section with twice the area?
  • Can you shade exactly one-quarter of the shape?

The key is in maintaining an open disposition, encouraging reasoning, and mediating disputes. Some other questions or challenges I’ve given student include:

  • Can you find all other sections that are the same size as _____?
  • Can you find all sections that represent _____?
  • If the shaded section is worth _____, how big is each other section?
  • What possible fractions can be shaded?
  • Can you add a single line to make a section worth _____?
  • What needs to be added to make the shaded section equal to _____?
  • Which section has the easiest area to find?
  • If the total area of the shape is _____, what is the area of the shaded section?
  • If the area of the shaded section is worth _____, what is the area of the whole shape?
  • Give students a shape, and have them shade _____ as many ways as possible.

From here, be creative. Have students switch representations. Model the shaded regions with number sentences or number lines. If students are asked to make decisions and justify their actions, a simple image holds powerful possibility.

Download the .pdf student handout to keep track of your students’ fraction talk reasoning. Keep track of day number, question asked, sketch of diagram, and student reasoning.

If you have any specific lessons, classroom stories, or super creative ideas send them to fractiontalks at gmail dot com. Better yet: blog them, submit via the site or tweet the link to @FractionTalks, and they will be linked to the site. A number of classroom implementations can be found under the “In the Classroom” tab or at the Twitter hashtag #fractiontalks.