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# Math and Special Education Blog — fractions

## Modeling Fractions with an Area Model

### What is an area model?

An area model is a useful tool you can use to model certain fraction concepts. An area model is a square that you divide into equal-sized rectangles to represent a fraction. Keep reading to learn some math concepts you can model with fraction sticks and area models!

## Fractions on a Number Line

Any teacher (and parent!) can tell you that fractions are a stumbling block for many students. One major misconception arises when students don't fully understand that fractions are unique numbers, like decimals, that occupy a specific place on the number line. Just like 1 fits nicely in a spot on the number line, so does 1/2. Once students begin to see fractions as numbers, they are better equipped to understand that the same rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division apply to fractions, just like all other numbers.

Keep reading to receive two FREE handouts that I have used with my students to help them visualize fractions on a number line and learn tips for teaching fractions!

## What's the trouble with fractions?

Fractions were one of the trickiest topics for my students to learn. Prior to fractions, numbers made sense: they were whole, they increased in value as they got bigger, and they usually became larger when multiplied and smaller when divided.

With fractions, numbers were suddenly stacked on top of one another! Confusing words like “simplify” and “common factor” had to be memorized! When the numbers grew larger (1/4, 1/5, 1/6) their value decreased! In fact, they weren’t even called “numbers” anymore, but “numerators” and “denominators!”

It’s no wonder that fractions left my students scratching their heads.

But fractions aren’t only difficult for students with learning disabilities. On the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), half of all 8th graders couldn’t correctly order 3 fractions from least to greatest. So why are fractions so tricky for our students?