Division of fractions…beyond the algorithm

I am currently working with multiplication and division of fractions with my grade 8 students. I have never been one to have my students just learn a set of rules, and so we always have discussions about the concepts and why the algorithms work. Year after year, the same issues surface. They have no problem conceptualizing multiplication of fractions, but division of fractions is always troublesome. They can follow the algorithm easily enough, but there are always those that have difficulty understanding why it works.

Here are some of my favourite resources for helping my students grasp division of fractions. If you have found others that work, I would love to hear about them.

First up is a neat little widget from Math Design in the Juniverse. I found this several years ago, and have kept it bookmarked ever since. I started using this before I had a Smartboard, and now my students can interact with it, as well.

Next is the division page on the Visual Fractions website. The first page gives one example, but when you click on “Investigate Division” you are taken to a PDF with several pages of examples to use. Although not interactive like the previous site, we can still put this up on my Smartboard and outline parts of the circles in various colours so that students see how many times I can take the pieces of the divisor out of the dividend.

The last resource is a lesson plan from the Ohio Department of Education that I only found recently. It gives several examples to do with students, along with prepared paper manipulatives for use along with the lesson. When I have more time, I intend to check out their vast database for other math lessons and activities.

Happy dividing.
Have a great week.

Leave a Reply