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Comic Books That Teach Fractions!

Motivational Cards for Fraction Division

I recently stumbled across a great and easy fraction division lesson in the International Journal on Emerging Mathematics Education.  In Indonesia, all 6th grade students take a national exam, so these creative teachers printed motivational phrases on card stock paper and asked their 5th grade students to make “motivativation cards” to encourage their older classmates.  Before long, the students learned they were doing fraction division!

Wahyu, Amin and Lukito (2017) created sayings on different colored cards, which I imagined looked something like this:

They began with one card that contained four sayings, and as the student cut the one green card into four pieces the discussion similar to this began:

  • Teacher: How many motivation cards can we make from one green page?
  • Student: Four.
  • Teacher: What fraction is each card?
  • Student: One-fourth.
  • Teacher:  So, we are dividing each paper into fourths. How can we make this a mathematical sentence using division?

The math discovery lesson began!  The teacher had a worksheet, but could have written the prompt on the board: ______ ÷ _____ = _______

As many teachers would expect, at least one student responded, “That’s 1 divided by 4”. When the teacher inquired, “Is 1 divided by 4 equal to 4?” the student began to think deeply about it. One more prompt was needed, “Are we dividing by 4 or by ¼?” After the class determined that to find how many motivation cards could be made with one page, they drew models of the mathematical sentence “1 ÷ ¼ = 4”.

The nice feature of the lesson was that different groups were given different color pages with various numbers of sayings, which meant some explored  “1 ÷ ⅓  = 3” others had 5 sayings.   The teacher provided several problems for the students to explore. 

Next, the teacher brought two pages with six different quotes, three on each sheet.  Through the activity, the children advanced to the statement  “2 ÷ ⅓  = 6”.

Such a simple activity that not only developed the measurement model of fraction division using unit fraction (e.g. how many ¼’s are in 5), but incorporated character education and helping others.   My example used statements that reinforce a growth mindset, which I try to interject in all of my comic books.  

Solving a hard math problem is like playing a hard basketball team, and winning!

I could imagine using other motivational statements that build a sense of belonging in a mathematical community and help students reflect on their learning experiences.  What motivational cards would you create?

Source: Wahyu, K., Amin, S.M., & Lukito, A. (2017). Motivation cards to support students’ understanding on fraction divisions. International Journal on Emerging Mathematics Education, 1(1), 99-120.