Fractions and Decimals

Type of Unit: Concept

Prior Knowledge

Students should be able to:

  • Multiply and divide whole numbers and decimals.
  • Multiply a fraction by a whole number.
  • Multiply a fraction by another fraction.
  • Write fractions in equivalent forms, including converting between improper fractions and mixed numbers.
  • Understand the meaning and structure of decimal numbers.

Lesson Flow

This unit extends students’ learning from Grade 5 about operations with fractions and decimals.

The first lesson informally introduces the idea of dividing a fraction by a fraction. Students are challenged to figure out how many times a 14-cup measuring cup must be filled to measure the ingredients in a recipe. Students use a variety of methods, including adding 14 repeatedly until the sum is the desired amount, and drawing a model. In Lesson 2, students focus on dividing a fraction by a whole number. They make a model of the fraction—an area model, bar model, number line, or some other model—and then divide the model into whole numbers of groups. Students also work without a model by looking at the inverse relationship between division and multiplication. Students explore methods for dividing a whole number by a fraction in Lesson 3, for dividing a fraction by a unit fraction in Lesson 4, and for dividing a fraction by another fraction in Lesson 6. Students examine several methods and models for solving such problems, and use models to solve similar problems.

Students apply their learning to real-world contexts in Lesson 6 as they solve word problems that require dividing and multiplying mixed numbers. Lesson 7 is a Gallery lesson in which students choose from a number of problems that reinforce their learning from the previous lessons.

Students review the standard long-division algorithm for dividing whole numbers in Lesson 8. They discuss the different ways that an answer to a whole number division problem can be expressed (as a whole number plus a remainder, as a mixed number, or as a decimal). Students then solve a series of real-world problems that require the same whole number division operation, but have different answers because of how the remainder is interpreted.

Students focus on decimal operations in Lessons 9 and 10. In Lesson 9, they review addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with decimals. They solve decimal problems using mental math, and then work on a card sort activity in which they must match problems with diagram and solution cards. In Lesson 10, students review the algorithms for the four basic decimal operations, and use estimation or other methods to place the decimal points in products and quotients. They solve multistep word problems involving decimal operations.

In Lesson 11, students explore whether multiplication always results in a greater number and whether division always results in a smaller number. They work on a Self Check problem in which they apply what they have learned to a real-world problem. Students consolidate their learning in Lesson 12 by critiquing and improving their work on the Self Check problem from the previous lesson. The unit ends with a second set of Gallery problems that students complete over two lessons.

Middle School
  • Conversion
  • Decimals
  • Fractions
  • Proportions
  • Ratios