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Screenshot from a video on making sense of fractions

Both teachers and students often report that the hardest thing to teach and learn is FRACTIONS. There are so many rules to remember and none of them seem to make sense. By building a solid conceptual understanding of fractions, teachers and students can understand those rules instead of memorizing them. Fractions don’t have to be a source of frustration and anxiety!

Researchers interviewing community college students found that they had a lack of conceptual understanding that had "by the time they entered developmental math classes, significantly impeded the effectiveness of their application of procedures. And application of procedures is, without concepts and a disposition to reason with them, all that students have left to go on” [Givvin, Stigler, & Thompson, 2011, p. 14]. While this research was conducted with students in developmental math classes, this same issue applies to learners in our programs.


This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • All teachers involved in adult numeracy instruction
  • Instructors at all levels of math comfort are encouraged to enroll
  • Not necessary that instructors are currently teaching math classes to fully participate

In this course, you will deepen your understanding of the meaning of fractions through a series of hands on activities and visual explorations. You will learn to develop your own non-routine fraction questions to guide your students to a deep and full understanding that will serve them well as they continue to work with fractions throughout their math education. You will also learn the reasoning behind all those fraction procedures students memorize in school and ways to teach them that allow students to develop conceptual understanding and procedural fluency at the same time.

Making Sense of Fractions is a blended course composed of two face-to-face sessions (10 hours contact time) and two online sessions (about 6 hours total). The total completion time is approximately 16 hours. The course schedule is as follows:

  • February 28, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Session 1 (face-to-face meeting with breaks, Holyoke, MA)
  • February 28 to March 12: Session 2 (online, self-paced)
  • March 13, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Session 3 (face-to-face meeting with breaks, Holyoke, MA)
  • March 13 to March 23: Session 4 (online, self-paced)

Participation in the online sessions involves reading assigned materials and participating in online discussions and activities.

To receive a certificate of completion, participants must complete both online sessions and attend both face-to-face-sessions. For more information, please contact Sherry Soares (

For more information, watch our short video on the course.

Learning Objectives: 

Upon completion of this professional development activity/course, you will be able to:

  • Make connections between different representations of fractions
  • Solve and create non-routine problems involving the meaning of fractions
  • Estimate with fractions using benchmarks
  • Use different visual models to understand fraction operations
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s): 


02/28/2020 - 9:00am to 3:30pm
03/13/2020 - 9:00am to 3:30pm
Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center
206 Maple Street, RM 402/403
Holyoke, MA 01040
PD Center: 

Math and Numeracy

SABES Mathematics and Adult Numeracy Curriculum and Instruction PD Center
Topic Area: 
ABE/Adult Education
Blended Learning
College and Career Readiness
College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (CCRSAE)
Distance Learning
ESOL/English Language Learner
High School Equivalency (HiSET/GED)
Learning Disabilities
Mathematics and Adult Numeracy
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