Professional Learning Through a Fraction Task Progression - IM CERTIFIED® BLOG (2024)

Professional Learning Through a Fraction Task Progression - IM CERTIFIED® BLOG (1)


Teaching mathematics is a continuous cycle of identifying where each student is in their learning trajectory and determining meaningful ways in which to build on their current understandings. While we often have little control over students’ mathematical experiences before they walk into our classrooms, we do have complete control of our own learning.

Understanding the mathematics and its progression for ourselves is one of the most valuable tools in understanding where students are in their thinking and determining ways in which to help each student make sense of the mathematics in a connected, coherent way. In support of this work, Jennie Beltramini, Student Achievement Partner’s Professional Learning Math Specialist, and I designed a five-step process teachers and coaches can use in a PLC to help guide collective learning around a mathematical progression.

The process detailed below could be used to better understand any mathematical idea in the Common Core State Standards. Because fractions are such a pivotal point in students’ mathematical journey, we focused this process on the big idea of equivalence in the Grade 3–5 fraction progression.

Step 1: Find appropriate, standards-aligned tasks

To ensure the tasks are aligned to the standards and follow a coherent progression, we recommend using the Coherence Map on Achieve the Core to identify standards-aligned Illustrative Mathematics tasks. For this process, we identified a series of Grade 3, 4, and 5 tasks, along the fraction equivalence progression that you can download here. These tasks will be referenced throughout the steps outlined below, so check them out before you continue reading.

Professional Learning Through a Fraction Task Progression - IM CERTIFIED® BLOG (2)

Step 2: Do the math

Doing the math is a critical piece of understanding the progression. Since this process focuses on the progression across three grade levels, it is helpful to think about what happens in the middle first. Each person should independently complete the Grade 4 task and answer the questions on this planning sheet. Independent work time offers each person time to make sense of the math for themselves and reflect on their current understandings. After each person has finished, discuss responses as a group.

Step 3: Read the Progression Documents

When doing math tasks, our strategies are often influenced by how we learned the math or how we how we have previously taught it. For this reason the Progression documents are necessary to help ground our ideas in the mathematical progression itself. These documents can be fairly heavy and time-consuming to read all at once, so it is important tocarefully choose the sections that relate to the math tasks at hand when working within limited PLC time.

Since this series of tasks focuses on the big idea of fraction equivalence, each person in the group should read a different piece of that progression. In this case, one person should read Grade 3 pages 5–6, another, Grade 4 pages 7–8, and a third person should read Grade 5 pages 9–10.

Once everyone has finished reading, discuss the following questions:

  • What big ideas stood out to you while reading your grade level section of the progression?
  • Where do you see similarities or connections between the grade levels?

Step 4: Revisit and revise your Fraction Planning Sheet

Based on what was learned from the group discussion about the fraction progression documents, revisit the original fraction planning sheet. Each person should take a few minutes to individually add to or revise their individual ideas and discuss any changes they made with the group.

Step 5: Complete the 3rd and 5th grade tasks

Now it is time to see what the progression looks like through what the math students will be doing. Look back at the original set of fraction progression tasks, and complete the grade 3 and 5 tasks. As a group, discuss the following questions:

  • What connections do you see across the tasks?
  • How did your conversations about the math and students’ understandings change after reading the Progression documents?
  • How will your new understandings impact the way in which you teach fractions in your classroom?

Investing time in our own learning through these 5 steps can help us not only understand the math better for ourselves, but also help us in building opportunities for students to see mathematics as a meaningful and connected journey.


Next Step

  • If you use this process, I would love to hear about your learning and how it impacted the teaching and learning in your classroom. You can share your ideas here in the comments section, or share with us on Twitter using the #LearnWithIM hashtag.
  • If you added steps to this process to make it more meaningful in your PLC work, I would be really interested in making this process more useful for all, so please share!
  • To read more about some of the ideas along the fraction progression, check out Bill’s posts on building fractions from unit fractions and fraction equivalence.
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Professional Learning Through a Fraction Task Progression - IM CERTIFIED® BLOG (2024)


What is the objective of fraction learning? ›

The objectives are for students to learn about different types of fractions, representing fractions on a number line, finding equivalent and lowest terms, comparing fractions, and performing addition and subtraction on like and unlike fractions.

How do you write a fraction lesson plan? ›

  1. 1:23 - Define numerator, denominator, and fraction. Check for clarity and understanding.
  2. 2:51 - Define proper and improper fraction. Give examples. ...
  3. 4:31 - Define like and unlike fractions. Give examples and write in notebooks.
  4. 5:21 - Define mixed numbers. Give examples and write in notebooks.

What skills do you need to learn fractions? ›

When learning fractions, a critical foundational skill is identifying the numerators and denominators. Once you know what they mean, every fraction becomes understandable and meaningful in a short amount of time. The numerator is the number on top, and the denominator is the number on the bottom; it's that simple!

What are the benefits of learning fractions? ›

If a child doesn't understand how fractions work, it will interfere with his ability to learn algebra later. Working with fractions also introduces some of the essentials of number theory, such as the lowest common denominator, greatest common factor, and prime factorization.

What is the main purpose of fraction in real life? ›

Fractions are very useful in real-life situations when accurate measurements are required. They are heavily utilised in industries such as Science, Engineering, Commerce and Finance. They are useful in the exchange of money, sports, fitness, and construction.

How do you teach fractions in real life examples? ›

1/3 cup of flour, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 a cup of milk, cut the dough into quarters and roll it 1/4" thick. If you don't know fractions, you won't know how to cook. Sharing a whole pizza with friends or splitting the check all involve fractional parts of a whole.

What are the best strategies for teaching fractions? ›

Five Favorite Strategies for Making Sense of Fractions
  • See physical and visual models that are flexible, doable, and clearly connect fraction concepts. ...
  • Learn how fraction concepts are interrelated.
  • Experience challenging problems with fractions that extend and assess student understanding.
Oct 17, 2019

What is learning fractions a very important part in life? ›

Fractions are important because they tell you what portion of a whole you need, have, or want. Fractions are used in baking to tell how much of an ingredient to use. Fractions are used in telling time; each minute is a fraction of the hour.

What is the first thing to teach for fractions? ›

The most important thing you can support your child with is their understanding that a fraction is a part of a whole, or a whole is a number of parts. And a unit fraction is an equal part of a whole. If they can grasp this, they can move forward.

Where can we use like fractions in our daily life? ›

Drinks: To make drinks like mocktails, different fractions of liquids are mixed in the right amounts to get the best outcome. Pizza: Dividing the pizza slices equally amongst everyone requires fractions. Photography and videography: The shutter speed of a camera is calculated using fractions.

What are the basic concepts of fractions? ›

In Maths, a fraction is used to represent the portion/part of the whole thing. It represents the equal parts of the whole. A fraction has two parts, namely numerator and denominator. The number on the top is called the numerator, and the number on the bottom is called the denominator.

What is the IEP objective for fractions? ›

Add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators (including mixed numbers) by replacing given fractions with equivalent fractions in such a way as to produce an equivalent sum or difference of fractions with like denominators.

What is the learning objective of teaching equivalent fractions to students? ›

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to: define numerator, denominator, and equivalent fractions. identify and create equivalent fractions using various methods.

What is the learning objective for simplifying fractions? ›

  • understand that a fraction is in its simplest form when the only common factor is 1,
  • identify fractions in their simplest form,
  • find a proper fraction in its simplest form by dividing the numerator and denominator by one or more common factors.

What is the main idea of fractions? ›

In Mathematics, fractions are defined as the parts of a whole. The whole can be an object or a group of objects. In real life, when we cut a piece of cake from the whole of it, then the portion is the fraction of the cake.

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