Recently my teammate introduced me to Patty Paper. I had to have her repeat that to ensure I had really heard "patty paper". I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently you can purchase packs of wax paper squares to put between hamburger patties. These translucent exact squares are perfect for math, especially multiplying fractions.I purchased mine on Amazon for about 0 (there are a 1,000 sheets and we barely made a dent).
At first I hyped up Patty Paper and didn't tell the students what we were going to do with this cool "math tool". I gave them each some sheets, a Sharpie, and some fraction tracing sheets. They traced several different fractions on their Patty Paper pieces.
Once we were prepared for the introduction to multiplying fractions by fractions I presented them with some real-world problems which required multiplying fractions by fractions. Or, in terms the students could better understand: parts of a part.
Then I gave no further instruction. I wanted them to experience some frustration and put forth some problem solving ideas of their own. The groups had some great math talk but after a few minutes they needed some more guidance, so I placed the needed Patty Paper pieces under the document camera so that they overlapped.
I forgot to photograph the problem, but here they were to find one-half of two-thirds.
This led to further math talk and students continued to have that important progressive struggle. This is a newer method of teaching for me, and I have to say, it is challenging to let go of that idea that we have to teach students how to do everything, rather than giving them the opportunities to figure out strategies and methods on their own.
After some more struggle I suggested that the students try folding the Patty Paper on the fractional lines to represent the problem.
Some students then came to the solution this way. They could see that the folded two-thirds were represented and then the folded half cut that two-thirds. The section of the Patty Paper that was overlapped by both pieces of the paper modeled the solution. One-half of two-thirds is two-sixths (or for those in my class who have mastered reducing...one-third).
The result was some students feeling that boost of confidence and lightbulb going off, while others were still baffled and needed more practice. So, we continued to try representing different problems with our Patty Paper. After a couple days of using it, my students were masters at representing and solving multiplication of fractions using Patty Paper!
If you are looking for a different and engaging way to work with fractions you just may want to check out Patty Paper.
You can check out other excellent lessons with The Teacher Studio's Loved that Lesson Linky!
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