The purpose of my blog is to document my experiences while taking Math for Elementary teachers 1510/1512. It is a reflection on what i learned and my opinions on teaching math.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rational numbers ... What are they exactly??? Math 1510

It is sad that my class is coming to an end, but it has been a great help at teaching me how to be a good math teacher. Over the course of the class I was able to learn math, while also learning how to effectively teach it to elementary students. I am hoping to take what I have learned from this class and apply it to my daily math lessons. We did cover one more unit on rational numbers and so that it is what I am going to write about for my last blog.
When I first learned we were going to cover rational numbers I thought to myself, "do I even know what  those are?" Being the detective I am, I immediately went online and looked up the definition. A rational number is any number (whole, decimal, or fraction) that can be expressed as a fraction with the denominator being anything except 0. The number 6 is a rational number because it can be written as 6/1, making it a fraction whose denominator does not equal 0.
I picked rational numbers to define and describe because I have been reading that it is one of the most difficult concepts for students to grasp. Since rational numbers are mostly written as fractions, students have a hard time performing operations because they cannot conceptualize what the numbers really mean. Too many teachers are just focusing on teaching their students the procedural steps in working with rational numbers, without giving a prior background knowledge of the basic concept. I am a classic example to this dilemma since I didn't even know that fractions were considered rational numbers. I think math classes need to have an introduction day for every new math lesson, so that teachers can go in depth and explain what students are going to be learning about. The second link posted below talks about problems students are having with rational numbers.

Articles on Rational Numbers

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