Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fraction Addition Made Easy: Clocks!

My students picked up fraction addition with lightening speed this year. Since some students had very little previous experience with any fraction work, this is a huge statement.

Bridges Second Edition is what got us started with clock fractions...but once we got started, we couldn't stop. The clock model was working so well that we had to have MORE! So here's what we did:

Modeling Fractions on Paper Plate Clocks

I made a class set of paper plate fraction clocks for some interactive fraction practice. At first, I'd just call out a fraction--"five-twelfths, show me!"--and students quickly spun the paper plates to show that fraction on their clocks and then turned their clocks to face me. This fabulous activity helped them improve the ability to both  identify fractions and recognize equivalencies. It also gave me a sense of how comfortable each student was with fractions. In no time at all, the entire group could quickly model any fraction with a denominator of 2, 3, 4, 6, 12. We also made Clock Fraction Flipbooks  and compared clocks and money as fraction models.

Modeling Fraction Addition
Once students felt comfortable with modeling fractions it was natural to extend our learning to fraction addition. I called out a fraction expression or wrote it on the board:
"One-half plus one-fourth. Show me."
Students moved the plates to the first fraction, then slid the plates to add the second fraction. This was phenomenal. So quick, so easy, and so comprehensible to everyone. It looked a little like this:

"One-half plus one-fourth. Show me." 

They'd slide the clock to one-half.

Then they'd add one-fourth to the one-half they already had and show me their totals.


This could not have been easier. We used the same technique to practice subtraction with fractions. I am so psyched about this model!

Need Additional Support?
Just add a rubber band. Let's look at an example using subtraction:


Students use the top paper plate alongside a rubber band to show the minuend (the number they start with in a subtraction problem). The subtrahend (the number being subtracted) is shown in the space between the rubber band and the top plate. The difference is shown by what remains visible on the top plate. The rubber band can also be helpful in addition models.


Clock Fraction Task Cards
Task Cards or Scoot!
To provide students with more opportunities to practice, I created a set of 32 Clock Fraction Addition Task Cards (example pictured at right) with several different types of recording sheets to use in Math Stations or Homeschool Workboxes. They could also be used in a game of Scoot. In this game, cards are placed throughout the room and students have to move from card to card and record their answers on a record sheet.

One Example on the Work Mat

Second Example Using the Work Mat


To give students a bit more support, I made Work Mats (pictured at left) that can be slipped into page protectors and used with dry erase markers.

So what are you doing to teach fractions to your students? I'd love to know which models work best for you!





Available here




Clock Fraction Addition: Task Cards or Scoot:
Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook 

You might also enjoy these math products:

Task Cards or Scoot: Egg Carton Fractions Addition
Skittles Fractions, Estimation, and Graphing
Flap Books "Present" Multiples and Factors
Task Cards or Scoot: Multiply and Divide Decimals and Whole Numbers by Powers of 10
Flap Books "Present" Powers of 10 (Multiply and Divide Whole Numbers and Decimals by 10)




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