Fractions are the bane of many a student. In fact some companies spend a lot of money every year training their employees on the topic...rules and process are easily forgotten.
Here is a conceptual introduction on video with very few symbols but with manipulatives and a few pictures...
Start students off with a Three Period Lesson, and then have them show which one is a 1/4 and which is a 1/2...how many quarters in a half? Let THEM match the symbols to the pieces and let them tell you why the 1/5 goes with the light blue one for example...
As it turns out, fractions are just math and all math is is counting. So let's learn how to count fractions the easy way: when you can see it.
Now that we know the names of the pieces we can start counting them:
We can just count pieces and see what we get. A lesson on Improper Fractions.
We can add them together.
We can make problem solving with fractions simple...and a whole lot more. Go here to see some story problems with a 6th grader and keep in mind I have several students MUCH younger than 12 that can do the kinds of story problems he is doing here.
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and I will make a video and post eventually...working on a fractions page at the house of math; ran into a couple of snags but it's coming.