My fifth graders are learning how to multiplying fractions
by whole numbers. I know some of you may be thinking, "Wow, I didn't learn
that until middle school!" I know! I didn't multiply fractions in fifth
grade either! But, the truth is, it's actually an easier concept to grasp than
you may be thinking... because we use models to represent it!

When I was in school, I know that I learned to multiply
fractions by making sure both of the numbers were fractions (so if there was a
whole number, put it over 1) and then multiply your numerators, then your
denominators and that was your answer. Of course, if you came up with an
improper fraction you then had to change it to a mixed number or be sure that
your fractions were simplified. I merely memorized these steps and therefore I
was pretty successful while multiplying fractions. But, I had no idea what it
all meant and what it looked like… until I started teaching.

When we began the unit- I introduced it with fraction circles since they are the most concrete
representation of fractions. The students have been using fraction circles for
years and I like how you can use the colors to represent each separate fraction
and then show how they come together to create the product.

Then we moved on to actually representing the visual models
with paper and pencil instead of manipulatives. I still wanted them to keep the
colors so they could see where each fraction came from to create the end
product.

There are many different strategies and models to represent
this concept. One of my favorites is on a number line. The reason why I like
this strategy the best is because it helps students to see fractions on a
number line- which is one of the most common places they will use them in real
life- measurement! I tend to see students struggle with reading a ruler or a
meter stick, even in 5

^{th}, 6^{th}, 7^{th}grade. Also, the need for changing improper fractions to mixed numbers or simplifying fractions is eliminated.
Feel free to copy my anchor chart. During group, my students
and I created it together. They have one for their notebook and I have this one
hanging in the room for them to reference. Also, check out the task cards I created for this standard.

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