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Connecting Fractions, Decimals and Percentages, seems like it is one of the easier concepts in the pit of teaching fractions and decimal understanding.
But actually it’s very complex and requires a mountain of prior knowledge and understanding about fractions and decimals before students are truly ready for this concept.
Research shows that students find it difficult to work with number less than one. According to Professor Jo Boaler this is due to the fact that numbers less than one are not as prevalent in our daily lives.
The depth of understanding that is required for connecting fractions decimals and percentages is reflected in most curriculum documents. This concept is taught around grade 6. after all the groundwork has been done with fractions and decimals.
E.g.- “Make connections between equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages (ACMNA131)”
Importance Of Focussing On Fractions Before Decimals & Percentages
Most students will tell you that fractions decimals and percentages are ways to show the same thing. But that’s as much as they can explain.
When this happens chances are they really need to revisit earlier fraction reasoning and place value concepts. And if I were to gamble I’d guess that they need to revise earlier outcomes in Year 4 & Year 5 that focus on the ideas that:
- The place value system can be extended to tenths and hundredths
- Make connections between fractions and decimal notation
- Understand the 10 times (divide by 10 or multiply by 10) bigger and 10 times smaller understanding
Students often ‘see’ decimals and percentages as whole numbers when reasoning. Even though they can show that they are parts of a whole in diagrams.
When this happens the student has actually lost the ability to see the relationship between the whole and the parts of that whole in their reasoning.
In the classroom these are the students who incorrectly identify which is the biggest number 0.25 or 0.125.
Using Money and measurement activities where there are parts of the whole, e.g. cents are parts of dollars, is a great way to show decimals in action and help your students develop the ability to reason about the relationship between the whole and parts of that whole.
Related Post: 20 Children’s Books To Make Fractions FUN!