Ever felt that sinking feeling as you are about to tackle
fractions again? You can imagine what the pupils think, well you probably knoe when they say ‘We’ve
done this.’ Or ‘Not again’. Here is an idea tht will give a different slant to the fearsome task of teaching factions.

**Step 1 **

Ask for 3 numbers between 2 and 9 inclusive. Write them on
the board. Now ask the pupils in pairs to make as many different fractions as
they can in 2/3 minutes. At the end of the allotted time collect the results on
the board, the chances are they’ve forgotten to repeat the numbers with same
numerator as denominator. Add any they have missed.

**Step 2**

Again in pairs or groups ask them to put the fractions into
groups that appear the same. Collect the results, hopefully you will get top
heavy fractions, equivalent fractions and ‘normal’ fractions. Ask them how they
could be displayed in a table. Again some paired or group work.

**Step 3**

Now demonstrate that probably the most effective way of
showing the results is in a table like that below. So for example if the
numbers chosen were 2, 3 and 7 the table would look like this.

**Step 3**

You can now start to ask questions such as what is special
about the diagonal with the entries 2/2, 3/3, 7/7? What do they equal? What other
numbers can equal these?

What is different about 3/2, 7/2, 7/3? What are these type
of fractions called? Hw can we change them?

I am sure you get the idea, the variations are endless and
where you go depends on the class, their prior learning and what you want to
achieve. This can also be extended to 4 numbers or where ever you want.

This idea was taken from the book ‘*Starting points’ *by Banwell, Saunders and Tahta published in 1972.
A vision of how maths education could have gone. It would be interesting to
compare it to today’s practice in classrooms throughout the world.

*If anyone has used the ideas that I have given you over these last few blogs how did it go? Were they successful? How did you improve them? (I'm sure you can). Please leave a comment.*