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Old 06-29-2009, 08:26 AM
773 Miles Away 773 Miles Away is offline
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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????
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  #2  
Old 06-29-2009, 08:38 AM
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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.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:58 AM
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We use Scott Foresman math and we teach fractions first and then move into decimals.
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:59 AM
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scholarteacher scholarteacher is offline
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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.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydoll View Post
...For example, the concept of .3 being 1/3 and 30% ...
I don't think we want to be telling them that
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:19 AM
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We use Houghton Mifflin math series and teach fractions first. Once my group understood fractions, decimals were easy.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:13 AM
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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.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:33 AM
773 Miles Away 773 Miles Away is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Upsadaisy View Post
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.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:34 AM
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Definitely fractions first.
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:35 AM
773 Miles Away 773 Miles Away is offline
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I wish I knew why EDM put their major decimal chapter before their major fraction chapter....
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