Many classrooms in my school are in the midst of reviewing fraction concepts. Throughout the school students are finding fractional pieces, converting fractions to decimals, and identifying fractions on number lines. For the past week students in second grade have been identifying fractional parts. Earlier in the week students completed the page below during a math station. Students did well on the first two pages, but struggled a bit when identifying fractions on a number line.

This was a challenge for some students as many are more familiar with identifying fractions within objects (in a circle/rectangle). Moving from identifying fraction to placing them on a number line can be a stretch. Many students have already started to decompose numbers and have completed “fraction-of” problems. These types of activities have helped reinforce the number line and fraction connection. Next week students will be assessed on the fraction unit and many classrooms move into geometry concepts. Before focusing in on geometry, I wanted to give student an opportunity to visualize fractions and use them with more complex word problems.

As I was looking for supplemental material I came across a Tweet by Paula (@plnaugle). She referenced Thinking Blocks as a resource that she uses with an interactive whiteboard. I looked into the site and thought that it might be useful for my grades 2-3 classes since the app allows students the opportunity to solve fraction problems visually. Specifically, I downloaded the fraction app on the school iPads. Yesterday a second and third grade class used this app in their classroom as a guided activity. The app was introduced to the class and I modeled the different steps involved in solving the problems.

The students were then asked to find a comfy place in the room and complete a minimum of three exercises. What’s nice is that the problems are picked at random, so students aren’t on the same problem at the same time. There’s also a feedback box that assists in guiding students towards labeling the correct parts of the fractions.

I helped the students as needed, but many were able to use the virtual manipulatives and generated feedback to stay on track. Some students completed three problems, while some went beyond and tried out five. After about 12 minutes the class gathered and we reflected on the perseverance that was needed and celebrated successes. This activity gave students an opportunity to make mistakes and persevere. I’ll be keeping this app in my repertoire for the future.