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# Courtney Wright S00118415

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Courtney Wright
S00118415

In year 7, students should be able to multiple and divide fractions and decimals using efficient written
strategies and digital technologies (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013).
This leads to the first two big ideas of dividing fractions and multiplying fractions. The Australian
curriculum for year 7 also describes comparing, ordering, adding and subtracting integers as something
students should be able to achieve (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013).
Addition and subtraction of integers will the the third big idea to be discussed.
For each of these big ideas, I have researched and discussed the difficulties or misconceptions that
students face when learning these ideas to find out how to best challenge these issues with tasks and
activities.
Big Idea 1 Dividing Fractions
When students move into dividing fractions, they bring along their prior experiences of whole number
division and this can often lead to misunderstanding and error (Johanning & Mamer, 2014). Gregg and
Underwood-Gregg (2007) describes that dividing fractions is one of the most mechanical and least
understood areas of mathematics in the middle school, where students performance in these tasks is
typically extremely poor. This is due to the rule as described by Van De Walle (2007) as Invert the
divisor and multiply. The inability to understand and describe the inverting fractions rule is not just
limited to the primary or secondary school, Gregg and Underwood-Gregg (2007) state that this is also
continued through to training elementary teachers in college, still unable to explain why the algorithm
works. In accordance, Cramer, Monson, Whitney, Leavitt and Wyberg (2010) explain that the invert and
multiply rule is generally introduced to grades six and seven students when learning division of
fractions and is commonly just a mechanical rule with little understanding.
Using context is a great way to build understanding in mathematical tasks, especially in fractions,
however very few textbooks use context as a way to form meaning of the division of fractions (Cramer,
Monson, Whitley, Leavitt, & Wyberg, 2010). Even when context is used, students connection between
the invert and multiply algorithm and the context is not substantial. Coughlin (2010) describes how it is
difficult to teach fractions as not only is the computation complicated, but it is also challenging to
explain fractions in the contect of word problems.
As previously stated, Johanning and Mamer (2014) discussed how students bring their prior experiences
and understanding of division of whole numbers when they begin to learn division of fractions. In
addition, Johanning and Mamer (2014) describe how this can lead to students not understanding how
dividing can result in getting a larger quotient. When students begin to learn division of fractions, it is
important that their understanding of division is expanded to know that it is possible to divide two
numbers and find a quotient that is larger than either the divisor or the dividend. Coughlin (2010)
states that dividing by fractions is considered to be one of the most complicated procedures in
elementary mathematics, this makes it a big idea and necessary for tasks to develop students
mathematical understanding.

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Using models to represent division of fractions by fractions.
In this task, students will solve contextual worded problems involving division of fractions by fractions
by using models. This task is based on an activity by Smith (2013).

First, students should be introduced to a problem involving a whole number, divided by a fraction, to
familiarize themselves with the concept.
Take 3 divided by .
Teacher should model the drawing of 3 whole units on the board.
Sample 1.

As we are finding how many lots of three quarters there are, we divide our 3 whole pieces into
quarters.
Sample 2.

We then shade of each whole (as seen by orange in sample 3). Then, we will notice that there is
left in each of the 3 wholes, making another set of (as seen by blue).
Sample 3.
So there are 4 groups of in 3.
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Next, students should be shown a worded problem involving division of two fractions.
Eg. Courtney has a litre of chocolate milk. She decided to divide the chocolate milk into servings
that are of a litre each. How many servings could she make?
Assist students in this task by rewording it as How many groups of are there in 1/2?
Let students try and attempt this problem themselves using the previous questions explanation before
assisting.

This task can be solved like this.
First, you draw the whole unit. As Courtney only had a litre of milk, you can draw a line to half the
Sample 4.

Now, as we want to know how many s will fit in that half, we add another whole unit below the other
and divide it into quarters. As Courtney wants to divide her milk into of a litres, you need to look at
how many s fit into the half. It is evident that exactly 2/4s fit into . So 2 servings of milk can be
portioned.
Sample 5.
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Students can judge the reasonableness of this answer by looking at the original fractions. As is less
than , we would expect that we could fit into more than one time. This addresses the issue
suggested by Johanning and Mamer (2014) of students not understanding why the quotient can be
larger than the dividend.
Discuss with students the relationship between the diagrams and how this compares to solving the
problem with the rule.

Students should continue to use this method to solve worded division of fraction problems.
Impact on student:

As discussed in my research, students merely using the computational approach of invert and multiply
was a significant issue in the teaching and learning of division of fractions. By introducing a task,
teaching students how to address and solve fractional division in another way, students understanding
has been extended beyond what they already knew.
Cramer, Monson, Whitley, Leavitt and Wyberg (2010) stated how using context in mathematical tasks
can be beneficial to students as it creates interest and also enriches students understanding of the task
due to being able to relate to the problem with its real life context.
Giving students a visual representation of the division problem, challenges the misconception for
students that in division the quotient will be a smaller than the dividend. Students can find the answer
using the models and assess the reasonableness of this answer, creating a deeper conceptual
understanding of the task than simply inverting and multiplying.

Big Idea 2 Multiplying Fractions
Similarly to dividing fractions, multiplying fractions challenges students to examine the previous ideas
they have learnt through multiplying whole numbers (Wu, 2001). Multiplying fractions can be a difficult
idea to teach, the computational point of view is rather simple, however, the conceptual point of view
is where the issues lie (Tsankova & Pjanic, 2010). Bezuk and Armstrong (1992) agree by saying that it is
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easy to multiply fractions symbolically, however to construct meaning and to determine if answers are
reasonable is more difficult. Unlike others, the algorithm for multiplying fractions is much easier to
learn, however it is evident that students often have trouble applying the algorithm flexibly (Tsankova
& Pjanic, 2010). Tsankova and Pjanic (2010) state that students struggle to recognize when the
algorithm should be used, do not use the algorithm to multiply decimals and also have difficulty
creating an appropriate pictorial representation of a problem. Wu (2001) discusses how students who
do not have a conceptual understanding of multiplying fractions and the algorithm will have limited
ability to generalize the information to other situations, especially with more advanced and complex
In earlier years, students are introduced to multiplication with whole numbers with the repeated
addition approach (Wu, 2001). Tsankova and Pjanic (2010) believe that the understanding of
multiplication of natural numbers as repeated addition is a prerequisite to the learning of fraction
however it is very limited if it is the students only conception of multiplication, especially when
applying multiplication to fractions (Wu, 2001). When applying context into multiplication of fractions
with mixed numbers or common fractions, the repeated addition model can be difficult to interpret
and make sense of (Wu, 2001).
Tsankova and Pjanic (2010) state that to develop new understandings and skills, students need to
recognize how different mathematically ideas connect and how they build on their previously acquired
knowledge. In saying this, Tsankova and Pjanic (2010) suggest that teaching multiplication of fractions
must be constructed on students prior knowledge of the multiplication algorithms and their
understanding of the representations. Previous knowledge that students would have attained by this
point in their schooling would include operations with natural numbers, the meaning of fraction as
part of a whole and part of a set and the concept of measurement (Tsankova & Pjanic, 2010).

Using area and length models as a method to solve multiplication of fractions.
This activity is based on a class activity completed in EDMA309, involving folding paper squares as a
method for solving multiplication of fractions.

Students will already be familiar with the general rule for multiplying fractions which involves
multiplying the numerators and multiplying the denominators.
Eg.

All students should be given a kinder square.
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Use the same example as above, and ask the students to fold their squares into quarters and then
unfold it.
Sample 1.

Students should then be asked to fold the same piece paper in half the OPPOSITE way to how they
folded previously. Students should open this up and be asked to shade in a different colour, one half of
the square.
Sample 2.

Tell students that this now represents the multiplication problem. Get students to investigate what the
answer is and how this is represented in the square. Also ask students to make connection between the
representation and the rule for solving multiplication of fractions.
The shaded segment of the square represents the numerator of the answer and the denominator
represents all the segments. So the part is 1 and the whole is 8.

Students are able to check their answer through the method of multiplying the numerators and
denominators.
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Using this method of multiplication also helps students to see that
1

1
is the same as
1
of
1
.
4 2 4 2

Another method for representing this multiplication is on a number line.
First, students need to create a number line, labelling where 0 is and where 1 is.
Secondly, students divide this number into the first fraction like they did with the paper.
Lastly, students need to divide the first labelled fraction into the second.

Sample 3
1

1
4 2

One more example involving fractions where the numerator is not 1.
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This question also involves the answer being simplified, which Bezuk and Armstrong (1992) state is
something students have difficulty or errors with.

Students should first fold the paper into eighths. Teacher/student discussion can be had to how this is
done, especially relating it to the first example of quarters.
Once paper is successfully folded into eighths, students should shade three eighths.

Sample 4.

Students should then be prompted to fold their square into thirds the other way. Students may have
difficulty as it does not involve halving the paper, so students should be assisted in methods to do this.
Students should then open up their square and shade two of those thirds.
Sample 5.

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The overlapping shaded areas is represented by 6 fractional pieces and the whole is 24 pieces. (Fold
lines have been drawn in for assistance in viewing individual parts)

Sample 6.

However, 6/24 is not the simplest form of this fraction. To simplify fractions, divide the numerator and
denominator by the highest possible number that can divide into both numbers exactly. In this
example, it is easy as 6 is a multiply of 24, and goes into 24 four times, so the answer is .

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Sample 7

As seen in sample 7, the number line method did not require simplifying of the fraction as it was in its

Once students are familiar with both these methods, students should complete a number of different
fraction multiplication problems involving a variety of numerators and denominators, example of
activity in appendix 1.

Impact on students:
Students mathematical understanding of multiplying fractions is progressed beyond what they already
knew with this task as, as Tsankova and Pjanic (2010) stated, students are usually well practiced in
using the computational method for multiplication of fractions however lack conceptual understanding
of what the methods or rules entail. By students doing this hands on task where they can visually see
what it is that the multiplication does, they deeper their understanding of the method they have been
using. =
Bezuk and Armstrongs (1992) research also suggests that this activity for multiplying fractions would
be worthwhile as they believe that it is easy to multiply fractions symbolically, however to construct
meaning and to determine if answers are reasonable is more difficult. This task gives students an
alternate way to determine answers to fraction multiplication questions. This task will take students
from having an instrumental understanding of multiplying fractions to a relational understanding.
Students will be encouraged to think mathematically as they investigate what the squares and shaded
regions mean and represent about the multiplication problem. Students are asked to relate this back to
the original multiplication of fractions and the method they use, to understand it how works.

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Big Idea 3 Adding and Subtracting Integers
Ponce (2007) describes the adding and subtracting of integers to be one of the first major roadblocks to
student success in the learning of algebra. Similar to both big ideas previously discussed, when working
with integers, students struggle to make the transition from working with whole numbers (Ponce,
2007). Khalid and Badarudin (2008), describe that teachers often find it simpler to teach rules than to
teach for meaning with integers, hoping that students understanding will develop as they operate
successfully. Students find it difficult to establish the rules for themselves through working,
consequently they just remember the rules rather than understanding. Much like the invert and
multiply rule of dividing fractions, students working with integers know how to apply the method
mechanically without any awareness for the significance of the answer (Badarudin & Khalid, 2008).
Students that do not succeed in making the transition from whole numbers to integers will be at a
severe disadvantage when trying to understand following mathematical concepts that rely on their
understanding of addition and subtraction of integers (Ponce, 2007). Usiskin (2005, p10) states that
algebra is a prerequisite for virtually all other mathematics, making it important that we find ways
to help students progress through the learning of integers.
The first is adapted from Adding and Subtracting Integers on the Number Line as described by emen
(1993) and the second is A Manipulative Aid for Adding and Subtracting Integers as described by Grady
(1978).

Adding and Subtracting Integers on the Number Line
In the activity described by emen (1993), students are given two sheets of rules and examples showing
how to add integers on a number and also how to subtract integers on a number line (featured below).

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For my task, these rules should not be given to students, rather discovered and discussed by class and
teacher while progressing through the activity. Introducing the rules in this way will ensure better
conceptual understanding of the process rather than students just following and memorizing rules,
which is an issue with the learning of integers.
Rather than using printed diagrammatic examples, a large number line should be created across the
floor or wall of the classroom for all students to see. As shown in emens sheets, students are
directed to start at 0 always and move forwards for positive numbers and backwards for negative
numbers. This should be replicated on the large scale number line in the classroom using the examples
by emen. Students should be chosen to stand up and create the path on the number line that the
equation suggests. The rest of the class should map the path on written number lines. The teachers
role during this activity is to ask questions and promote discussion to find out why students made
different moves and why they went the direction that they did as well as the reasonableness of the
conclusion.
Following this activity, students should practice more integer equations using the number line
technique.

Adding and Subtracting Integers with Counters A Manipulative Aid
In this task, students should be given students chips, blocks or some form of small manipulative of 2
different colours. For explanation purposes, I will be using yellow squares to represent positive
numbers and red circles to represent negative numbers.
Through this technique, it is important that it is known that +1 +
-
1 = 0, or when using the chips, one
yellow circle and one red circle is equal to 0.
Example 1 Positive number plus a negative number.
Given the example +6 +
-
3. First you get chips out to represent the first part of the equation, the +6.

-
3.

Lastly, we remove the zeros. These are the pairs of yellow and red circles.

This leaves you with three yellow circles, which represents +3.
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So, +6 +
-
3 = 3

Example 2 Negative number plus a negative number
Another example is
-
4 +
-
2.
First you make the
-
4.

-
2.

As there are no zeros in this example, the operation is complete.
-
4 +
-
2 =
-
6

Example 3 Negative number plus a positive number
Lastly,
-
7 +
+
4.
Firstly, make the
-
7.

+
4.

Remove the zeros.

The sum of
-
7 +
+
4 is
-
3.

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Impact on students:
emen (1993) believes that the number line method for adding and subtracting integers is valuable as
is represents the adding and subtracting of integers in a way that clearly distinguishes between
subtraction and negative numbers. emens model also clarifies why subtracting an integer has the
same effect as adding its inverse, which can often be confusing for students.
Using the number line technique helps students to visualize the adding and subtracting of signed
integers. The ability to visualize the mathematics that is occurring helps students to get a more
conceptual understanding of what is happening in the equation. Students will be able to understand
what adding a negative number looks like as well as taking away a positive number, which emen
(1993) describes as a confusing area. Implementing emens activity by challenging the students with
the task and to come up with the rules themselves allows students to engage in thinking
mathematically and the result of the activity is developing students mathematical understanding
Grady (1978) believes that the number line method for teaching the adding and subtracting of integers
can often be confusing so has offered an alternative technique involving manipulatives to assist
students in learning this vital concept. Students can use this technique and experience success with the
abstract idea and will have confidence in their results which will help as they learn the later rules for

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References
Australian Curriculum: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/mathematics/Curriculum/F-
10#level7
Badarudin, B. R., & Khalid, M. (2008). Using the jar model to improve students' understanding of
operations on integers. Research and Development in the Teaching and Learning of Number
Systems and Arithmetic (pp. 85-94). Mexico: International Congress on Mathematical
Education .
Bezuk, N. S., & Armstrong, B. E. (1992). Understanding fraction multiplication. The Mathematics
Teacher 85(9), 729-739.
emen, P. B. (1993). Adding and subtracting integers on the number line. The Arithmetic Teacher
40(7), 388-389.
Coughlin, H. A. (2010). What is the divisor's role? Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 16(5),
280-287.
Cramer, K., Monson, D., Whitley, S., Leavitt, S., & Wyberg, T. (2010). Dividing fractions and problem
solving. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 15(6), 338-346.
Grady, M. B. (1978). A manipulative aid for adding and subtracting integers. The Arithmetic Teacher
26(3), 40.
Gregg, J., & Underwood-Gregg, D. (2007). Measurement and fair-sharing models for dividing fractions.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 12(9), 490-496.
Johanning, D. I., & Mamer, J. D. (2014). How did the answer get bigger? Mathematics Teaching in the
Middle School 19(6), 344-351.
Ponce, G. A. (2007 ). It's all in the card - adding and subtracting integers. Mathematics Teaching in the
Middle School 13(1), 10-17.
Smith, A. (2013). Use models for division of fractions by fractions. Retrieved from LearnZillion:
http://learnzillion.com/student/lessons/204-use-models-for-division-of-fractions-by-fractions
Tsankova, J. K., & Pjanic, K. (2010). The area model of multiplication of fractions. Mathematics
Teaching in the Middle School 15(5), 281-285.
Usiskin, Z. (2005). Should all students learn a significant amount of algebra? In C. Greens, & C. Findell,
Developing Students' Algebraic Reasoning Abilities (pp. 4-16). Lakewood, CO: National Council
of Supervisors of Mathematics and Houghton Mifflen.
van de Walle, J. A. (2007). Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally.
Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Wu, Z. (2001). Multiplying fractions. Teaching Children Mathematics 8(3), 174-177.

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Appendix 1.