Labeling a Number Line
In order for students to correctly label fractions on a number line, they must first create equal parts between whole numbers or less than one whole. This is a very important foundation of fractions. It helps students really see the equal parts and understand that fractions are a part of a greater whole. Then to label the equal parts, students must know what part that line is out of how many total parts. There are many great foundational skills in this step.
Ordering Fractions on a Number Line
To correctly order fractions on a number line, students must understand that the number line is displaying whole numbers as well as fractional parts between those numbers. Students can place fractions in order on a number line by understanding the numerators (fractional party) will increase and the denominator (total parts) will remain the same. The whole numbers count on and increase if the number line is greater than one whole.
Understanding Greater Than and Less Than using Fractions
Once the students clearly understand the concept of the number line displaying an increase in the value of fractions, it is easy to see which fractions are greater or less than another. Number lines are a great visual for comparing fractions. Students are already given a strong background in using number lines for number sense. This skill will easily be extended off of the ways students have already experienced using number lines.
Counting on Greater Than One Whole
When students reach third grade and higher, the fraction unit will teach them to count on a number line to greater than one whole. In this instance, students are already familiar with counting on a number line using numbers less than one whole. The pattern will just continue to be greater than one whole. They will continue to increase the number in the numerator while the denominator remains the same. The number line will count whole numbers with the fractional parts in between.
After students are comfortable with labeling fractions on a number line and understanding their value, students will begin using a number line to learn equivalent fractions. When you are teaching equivalent fractions using a number line, you will compare two number lines using different fractional parts. Then show the matching fractions between the two number lines. These fractions, although using different numbers, will show they have the same value. This method is such a strong visual for students.
Real World Connection
Using a number line to teach fractions is such a real world connection for students. When students look at a ruler or other measuring tools, they will see the connection. It will be an easy transfer to measure something to less than one inch.
I personally find teaching fractions using a number line to be a clear and concrete way to teach the skills needed with fractions. The number line is also a great method, because it does not end. The skills taught in the younger grades will just be added on to as students move up through the Eureka Math program.
I have found that students have the most difficulty when it comes to equally partitioning the number line before they label or problem solve. One way to support students is to copy the number line black line master and place it in a sheet protector. Have students keep this available to use throughout the fractions unit and they can use it over and over to label and compare fractions.
You can also have number line templates available for students as needed. They can cut and glue a number line into their math notebook and complete the corresponding problem in the notebook as well.
- Classroom Teacher
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