In Betsy Bennati’s fifth grade math class, students are discovering fractions and creating works of art. When Mrs. Bennati first introduced the unit on fractions, she noticed her students were struggling with the concept. In an effort to combat the initial nerves of learning something new and complex, she asked students to use a ruler. The students first had to learn to use the ruler itself, learning about increments of an inch. Then, they began drawing straight lines on an x/y axis. The final result was a beautiful piece of art made one straight line at a time!
Mrs. Bennati explained, “Students first learned the sixteenths on the ruler, then reduced that to learn where each eighth and quarter is. After drawing an x/y axis, students marked every eighth inch on each axis. Then students connected the farthest point on the x axis to the point nearest to the center on the Y axis. The students continued down connecting points along the way. They completed this task with each quadrant. The students were amazed to find that using their ruler to draw straight lines resulted in a final product of curved lines.”
This project helped the class better understand the unit because students learned how to split a space evenly to create fractions. It also taught them how to add fractions. One student said, “I thought this was very interesting because we did the drawings and then we learned during the drawings and we didn’t even notice.” Another added, “I think that the line drawings are much better than worksheets because it’s fun, creative, and teaches measurement.”
Mrs. Bennati explained that this project was also useful when the students began estimating sums of fractions to the nearest half inch because they could visualize the ruler and understand where the fractions would fall on the ruler. This student said it best, “I like how you are doing a challenging learning experience, but also having so much fun!”