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# Simplifying Fractions is Just NOT that Simple!

Before school let our for the Christmas break I was at my wits end with trying to teach equivalent fractions and simplifying fractions to students who were deficient in their understanding of the “true” meaning of multiplication and division. I know that there are so many different skills that students need to have mastered before they can simplify fractions. I had to face the fact that the students who were sitting in my classroom did not have the prerequisite skills to understand how to simplify fractions. Believe me it showed! Every time I tried to show them a different way of how to simplify fractions the students would mentally check out.
So out of frustration I did the unimaginable, I divided my classroom of 28 students in half.  I began teaching the students how use the tape diagram as a model to add fractions with like denominators. After adding the fractions I asked the students was the answer in simplest form. I then proceeded to demonstrate how simplify the fraction and as soon as I finished one of my students raised his hand and said, “I don’t understand that GCF stuff.”
I took a deep breath and looked at the problem and began to write 9/12 in dot form. I then took the GCF which was 3 and divided the numerator into groups of 3 and the denominator into groups of 3 to show 3/4. After I did this there was a collective….”Ohhhhhhhhhh, I get it!”

As I prepare to return to school on Monday,I feel more confident about teaching the remainder of the fraction curriculum to my students. I know that I have the math content knowledge to teach that helps me to present the math in multiple ways.

If you are interested you can try a sample of my color tile activity for free or you can purchase the full lesson on my website

### 3 thoughts on “Simplifying Fractions is Just NOT that Simple!”

1. I have low performing high school students who struggle with fractions. A couple years ago, one of my students had a light go off. She didn’t realize that the parts of a fraction needed to be equal. She thought the parts could be of different sizes.

2. How important do you feel it is for students to understand fractions before moving on to high school? I just started teaching a new group of kids, and I’m not sure at this point if focusing on fractions until they understand them is worth it, or if we should circle back to it later…

1. I think it’s very important. I moved up to the Algebra I Math Interventionist last year. Even though the student are able to use graphing calculators they constantly get the slope wrong because they can’t recognize whether or not it’s in simplest form.

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