Help kids master fractions with the fun, fast-paced, maths comparison game Fraction Wars. After a review, students are split into pairs to practise quickly comparing fractions with different numerators and denominators.
Students will be able to compare fractions with different numerators and denominators.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
Call students together as a group and ask them if they have ever played the card game War before. For students who have never seen this game previously, quickly demonstrate the game by dividing a deck of cards in half between two students. Have the two students pull the top card off their half of the decks and declare the winner of the hand to be the student with the higher numbered card.
Explain that today students are going to be playing this game with fractions. They will be playing Fraction Wars.
In order to play this game, students will need to make fraction playing cards. Brainstorm as a group some fractions students might want to include in their decks. (Possibilities include: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 3/8, etc.) List some common fractions up on the board, such as 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, for students as they create their fraction cards.
Pass out index cards or squares of scrap paper along with pens/pencils to students, so that they can make their cards.
Display a written list of the steps to play the game War.
Have students read and retell the process to a partner.
Give students access to home language resources if they are literate in their home language (L1) to help them look up unfamiliar terms.
Have students make fraction cards with a partner and read their fraction as they go (e.g., "I wrote one-fifth.").
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling
After students have finished making their fraction cards, call them back together as a group.
Remind students that when deciding the winner in a fraction war, they must know which fraction is larger. Ask students, “What are some different ways to determine which fraction is larger?”
Once students have offered various suggestions, point out to students that drawing pictures can be a quick way to visually compare two fractions.
Another way to quickly compare two fractions is to compare them to a benchmark fraction. For example, if students need to compare 1/4 and 5/8, they know that 1/4 is less than 1/2, and 5/8 is greater than 1/2. Thus, 5/8 must be larger.
A third possibility might be to create the same denominator. For example, when comparing 1/2 and 3/8, students might realise that 1/2 is greater, because 1/2 is the same as 4/8, and 4/8 is more than 3/8. Encourage students to be creative and keep thinking of other ways to determine which fraction is larger.
Remind students that a number can be greater than, less than, or equal to another number. The same is true with fractions. They should already be very familiar with the equal sign (=), which is used to show two numbers are equal.
Since students have probably had less exposure to the greater than (>) and less than (<) signs, remind them to think of the symbols as an alligator’s mouth. The mouth wants to eat the bigger number, so it always is open on the side of the bigger number.
Tell students that they are ready to play the game. Explain to students that they will be recording their games.
Pass out sheets of lined paper. Have students create 3 columns, and label the top of each: "My Fraction," "My Partner’s Fraction," and "Justification."
Give students sentence stems to help them answer the question: "One way to determine which fraction is larger is to... Another way is to..."
Create a word/phrase bank with important terms for students to refer to throughout the lesson. Terms to include are "fraction," "larger/greater/less than," "equal," "benchmark fraction," "numerator," and "denominator." Provide visuals and examples to help define the terms.
Model each method of comparing fractions and have students practise each method while describing the process to their partner. Provide sentence stems to guide their conversations, such as: "To compare these fractions, I will... First, I... Then, I..."
Demonstrate a round of the game for students by having two students pull a card from the top of their fraction deck. Have the class record these fractions on the first line of their papers under the columns "My Fraction" and "My Partner's Fraction."
As a class, determine which fraction is greater, or if the two are equal, and place the appropriate sign between the two columns. Together, in the "Justification" column, draw a picture of the two fractions or write a brief explanation proving why one fraction is greater than or equal to the other.
Play another round of the game using the same process, but this time choose student volunteers to demonstrate how to fill in the chart. Have the volunteers determine which fraction is greater, and show sample justifications for their reasoning.
If students feel comfortable with the game and how to record their work, students can move on to independent working time. Otherwise, continue playing a few more rounds of the game with student volunteers.
Have students restate the process of the Fraction War game before the teacher models it.
Ask students to list the different strategies for comparing fractions on an anchor chart.
Give students sentence frames to guide them through writing their justification for the answer: "In this round, the fraction ____Wins because it is greater than the fraction ____. I know this is correct because..."
Independent working time
At this point, students should be broken-up into partners to play the game.
Remind the class that they must record their fraction wars and justify how they knew a fraction was greater than, less than, or equal to another. They will be sharing this information with the class later.
Tell students that each pair of partners must agree on which fraction wins the fraction war.
While students play, float around the classroom to check in with students individually and correct any misunderstandings.
Place students into pairs with more advanced ELs for the game.
Provide them access to the vocabulary cards to keep at their desk for reference.
Provide probing questions for students to ask each other as they play the Fraction War game:
How do you want to compare these fractions? ("Let's use the ____Method to compare these fractions.")
Do you agree with me? ("I agree/disagree with you because...")
Enrichment:For students in need of a greater challenge, create groups of three where three fractions instead of two are being compared can increase the difficulty. Students can also be required to justify their answers in more than one way (e.g., through both words and pictures).
Support:For students who need a little extra help, being paired with a student who has a greater understanding of fractions can offer the opportunity for peer assistance/scaffolding. Having students draw a visual of the fractions on the back of their cards can help students to more quickly and easily visually compare the fractions, too. Limiting the activity to more common fractions is also an option.
Give students an index card and have them compare the fractions 5/6 and 2/3.
Tell students to write a justification for their answer. Collect the index cards as a formative assessment.
Have students describe their maths thinking in their L1 or English (L2) for one of the rounds of Fraction War that they completed. Encourage students to refer to the word/phrase bank as they explain their process.
Allow students to complete the assessment in class in a small teacher-led group. Ask probing questions to ensure that students are able to justify their thinking.
Review and closing
Call students together as a group. Tell them that they are going to have the opportunity to share about their experiences playing Fraction Wars.
Ask the group: Were there any fractions you had a hard time comparing? If so, how did you figure it out? What are some different ways you justified your answers? Did two partners ever disagree? If so, what methods did they use to come to an agreement?
Before students are done, remind them that there are three different signs used to compare fractions: greater than (>), less than (<), and equal to (=). Remind them that they can keep these signs straight if they think about how the open side of the mouth always wants to eat the bigger number. Encourage students to use pictures and comparisons to benchmark fractions when comparing two fractions.
Provide sentence frames/stems to aid in answering the questions: "I had a hard time comparing ____And ____. I was able to figure it out by..."
Write the symbols <, >, and = on the board, and ask students to point to the correct symbol as you state the meaning (e.g., "greater than").
Invite students to share their own strategies for remembering the difference between > and <.