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Teaching Fractions: The Musical

As it is very difficult to convey the skills of fractions,  I am keen to see how a new programme that helps students learn fractions to music actually works. Fractions is often the skill that teachers dread to cover. I have heard of teachers that have demanded to teach lower grades just to avoid it.

That is why I am sure that this programme will generate plenty of interest:

For tapping out a beat may help children learn difficult fraction concepts, according to new findings due to be published in the journal Educational Studies in Mathematics.

An innovative curriculum uses rhythm to teach fractions at a California school where students in a music-based programme scored significantly higher on math tests than their peers who received regular instruction.

“Academic Music” is a hands-on curriculum that uses music notation, clapping, drumming and chanting to introduce third-grade students to fractions.

The programme, co-designed by San Francisco State University researchers, addresses one of the most difficult – and important – topics in the elementary mathematics curriculum.

“If students don’t understand fractions early on, they often struggle with algebra and mathematical reasoning later in their schooling,” said Susan Courey, assistant professor of special education at San Francisco State University.

“We have designed a method that uses gestures and symbols to help children understand parts of a whole and learn the academic language of math.”

It will be interesting to see if this programme becomes a success.

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