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Sustaining focus on fractions  Print


Sustaining focus on fractions

Teacher Professional Learning Instructional Decisions Student Learning Fractions(Content)

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The identification of fractions as difficult-to-learn-and-teach caused teachers to identify the need for increased time with this content area. This initially caused concern over the time required to address gaps in student understanding given the demands to meet timelines in their program. As the work progressed, there was an increased understanding of the ways that a deep understanding of fractions can ease student learning of other concepts which involve fractions, such as proportional reasoning and probability. Furthermore, the teams increasingly identified cross-strand applications which would allow them to sustain the focus on fractions, such as in measurement and geometry. Finally, teams identified how issues within the student work, such as how much accuracy is required for a drawing, extended beyond fractions to mathematics in general. Through the development of a deep teacher understanding of fractions and of student learning of fractions, teams demonstrated increased confidence with understanding student thinking and responding through questioning to evoke and expose thinking. The teams were able to see how student misconceptions can be resolved in a meaningful way by students over time and so were more comfortable with allowing misconceptions to be resolved through student thinking and dialogue. Teams were also able to be more confident in their ability to identify when a task needed to be relatively limited in the range of responses and when it could be more open.

Perhaps most importantly, educators felt validated in their shifts in practice based on feedback from students and colleagues. Improvements in student achievement and in self-reported efficacy reinforced this.