It can be a challenge for students to truly understand the concept of dividing fractions. I’m going to explain and demonstrate 2 strategies for dividing fractions that you can use in the classroom with little to no prep.
Using visual models while teaching your students to divide fractions and whole numbers with unit fractions can help to illustrate this concept. As students become more comfortable, you can reinforce this understanding by using the standard algorithm.
Check out the tutorial video below and get a free copy of the template used in the video to help you. I recommend copying the visual model and standard algorithm for each type of problem back-to-back. That way, you can slide one sheet of paper into a dry erase pocket, have your student create the visual model, then flip it over to check their answer using the standard algorithm.
Visual Models for Dividing with Unit Fractions
There are two types of visual models that I have used to teach dividing fractions – one for each type of problem:
- dividing unit fractions by whole numbers
- dividing whole numbers by unit fractions
Standard Algorithm for Dividing Fractions
I love using KEEP, CHANGE, FLIP to teach the standard algorithm for dividing fractions. The kids just get it. Plain and simple. And they remember it. While it may not be necessarily conceptual, I think it’s okay when something works so consistently from year to year.
I always have shown the Keep, Change, Flip video from Flocabulary to introduce the standard algorithm. My kids always begged me to play it over and over, which helped them remember the steps for dividing fractions.
First, it’s important to have them copy down the original problem – ALWAYS. I have them do this so that they can rewrite any whole numbers as fractions over 1. Then, I have them follow the steps right underneath each piece of the problem. Follow these steps:
- Rewrite the problem. Turn any whole numbers into fractions over 1.
- Keep the first fraction the same.
- Change the division sign to multiplication.
- Flip the second fraction to represent the reciprocal.
Looking for More Information and Resources for Fractions?
- Adding and Subtracting Fractions
- Adding and Subtracting Mixed Numbers
- Multiplying Fractions
- Dividing Fractions
- Equivalent Fractions
- Introducing Fractions
- Simplifying Fractions
- Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers