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 A to Z Teacher Stuff Forums Teach Fractions or Decimals first? Seeks Math Whiz help! :)

#1
06-29-2009, 08:26 AM
 773 Miles Away Comrade Join Date: Jun 2007 Posts: 267
Teach Fractions or Decimals first? Seeks Math Whiz help! :)

Normally I'd post this in the elementary section because I teach 4th grade... but I thought those that teach upper level math might be able to give me insight as well.

We use Everyday Math for our curriculum, though I do not follow it page by page exactly. In the curriculum it introduces decimals first (up to the thousandths) and then introduces fractions a couple chapters later.

The way it deals with decimals is by using cubes, longs, and flats. A flat is made up of 100 tiny cubes and a long is made up of 10 tiny cubes. So if the Flat is the whole (the One) then 1 long = 0.1 or 1/10, and the cube = 0.01 or 1/100th. As far as I can remember, it doesn't actually show the fraction.

They develop their understanding of a decimal being only part of one by looking at the concept that 0.1 x 10 = 1... etc etc.

Do you agree that dealing with the decimal concept first is good, and then dealing with fraction concepts after??

I'm not sure if either one is better first.. I just know that it was a challenging concept for my kids in general.

Thoughts????

#2
06-29-2009, 08:38 AM
 mollydoll Connoisseur Join Date: Feb 2009 Posts: 1,566 GED & Science Teacher
I'm not a math teacher, but I can say from my experiences tutoring developmental math at a community college, I had the best results doing fractions first.

Many of the people I tutored had severe cases of math phobia and were trying to pass pre-algebra so they could take the classes they needed for credit. I also tutored people trying to pass Praxis I (those ones scared me, I must admit...). Fractions and decimals pretty much universally scared them silly, but I found that they dealt best with decimals after getting comfortable with fractions and percents. For example, the concept of .5 being 1/2 and 50% off made sense to them once I took them through newspaper sale ads. I also used money.

I can't provide any input on how this translates to elementary school kids though.

Edited to remove the evidence of me being a dodo brain.
#3
06-29-2009, 08:58 AM
 **Mrs.A** Comrade Join Date: Jan 2009 Posts: 392
We use Scott Foresman math and we teach fractions first and then move into decimals.
#4
06-29-2009, 09:59 AM
 scholarteacher Connoisseur Join Date: Nov 2008 Posts: 1,612 NC Kindergarten Teacher
Seems like most kids would have learned some fractions first. For decimals, the base 10 blocks you mentioned are great. Money works well to: 10 cents is 1/10 of a dollar, etc.
#5
06-29-2009, 10:00 AM
 HMM Habitué Join Date: Dec 2004 Posts: 828 OH Mathematics Professor
Quote:
 Originally Posted by mollydoll ...For example, the concept of .3 being 1/3 and 30% ...
I don't think we want to be telling them that
#6
06-29-2009, 10:19 AM
 carlea Comrade Join Date: Jul 2007 Posts: 385 California 6th Grade Language Arts
We use Houghton Mifflin math series and teach fractions first. Once my group understood fractions, decimals were easy.
#7
06-29-2009, 11:13 AM
 Upsadaisy Moderator Join Date: Aug 2002 Posts: 15,527 Florida
No, .3 does not equal 1/3.

I think you have to constantly use both decimals and fractions and constantly point out the equivalents.

When I used a base ten set, I used the cube for 1 whole so that I could get down to the thousandths. I always noted both the fraction and decimal forms.

Do you do calendar math every morning? That helps a lot.
#8
06-29-2009, 11:33 AM
 773 Miles Away Comrade Join Date: Jun 2007 Posts: 267
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Upsadaisy No, .3 does not equal 1/3. I think you have to constantly use both decimals and fractions and constantly point out the equivalents. When I used a base ten set, I used the cube for 1 whole so that I could get down to the thousandths. I always noted both the fraction and decimal forms. Do you do calendar math every morning? That helps a lot.
No we don't do calendar math in the 4th grade. EDM uses a cube (or I think EDM calls them blocks) as the whole when they start to introduce thousandths.. but first they make a flat the whole... not sure if I want to just start with the block as a whole, or do the switch like they do. They switch the whole from flat to block so kids can understand that the whole changes as well.
#9
06-29-2009, 11:34 AM
 Missy99 Enthusiast Join Date: Jan 2008 Posts: 2,054 TX Going to land a new position!
Definitely fractions first.
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#10
06-29-2009, 11:35 AM
 773 Miles Away Comrade Join Date: Jun 2007 Posts: 267
I wish I knew why EDM put their major decimal chapter before their major fraction chapter....

 Tags decimals, fractions, math, seeks, teach, whiz

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