#FractionsFebruary Activity: Ordering Fractions

by Math Solutions Professional Learning Team, February 17th, 2017

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When teaching fractions, it’s important to give students the opportunity to compare and order fractions, and practice equivalent and non-equivalent fractions. Try this activity for fourth and fifth-grade students who have already explored fractional parts of halves, fourths, eighths, and sixteenths. The lesson demonstrates students’ levels of comprehension, and helps them improve their reasoning skills.

With the help of the ½ benchmark on a number line, students will be asked to put in order a fraction set from smallest to largest. The sets will contain fractions with different denominators, which will provide the opportunity to test and use different strategies for finding fraction order.

With some index cards cut in half(or pieces of paper), students will choose one of the following “sets” and write each fraction on the provided materials, along with the numbers: 0, 1/2, and 1/1, these numbers will be placed separately on the students desk as a point of reference for placing fractions.

  1. Set: 1/16, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 15/16, 1/1, 9/8, 3/2
  2. Set: 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3,4, 15/16, 8/8, 17/16, 7/6, 4/3

After students have chosen either Set 1 or 2, we suggest you create a number line on the board with the benchmark of 1/2. Then ask students where 1/4 might go; followed by 1/16. Give students time to answer why 1/16 goes before 1/4.

Now that the class has already selected a set, ask students to put in order their chosen set. After 10-15 minutes, give students the opportunity to find someone, (or a small group) and compare their answers for about 10 minutes. After students have had a chance to discuss, ask students to return to their seats.

Pick either set 1 or 2 and go through the sequence with students; giving the other group a chance to engage in reasoning as well. Then switch sets.

What kind of math talk do you hear in your classroom during activities like these? What challenges do you observe your students facing as they compare and order fractions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.





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