One of the more challenging skills in teaching fractions is using visual models to show mathematical thinking. In 5th grade, this is an element in both decimal and fraction operations. I like to introduce these operations with the visual models before moving to the standard algorithm of any skill. Let me show you how I use visual models to multiply fractions.
Multiplying Fractions with Whole Numbers
When I introduce multiplying fractions, I start out with multiplying fractions by whole numbers. It’s important to review basic fractions and ensure that students know how to represent these. Then, when multiplying a fraction by a whole number, they will repeat the fraction model as many times as the whole number.
My students receive an information page with the steps to create a model for multiplying fractions by whole numbers. After a mini-lesson and interactive examples on a smartboard, they’re given an outline of the visual models and practice problems to try on their own. They fill in the models to match the problem and find their answers.
Next, I challenge my students to create models on their own. They’re given additional problems and the space to draw their models. The difficult part of this is organizing them neatly, so using a ruler is important a great opportunity for them to use appropriate mathematical tools.