Fractions

The problem with fractions, and more broadly rational numbers, is pervasive. And has huge implications for all of our students.

“Students who complete Algebra II are more than twice as likely to graduate from college compared to students with less mathematical preparation.”
2008

Woot Math is research-backed with support from prominent organizations such as the Department of Education / Institute of Education Sciences, National Science Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And Woot Math has been acknowledged as one of the leaders in utilizing research to help students be successful.

Woot Math was originally designed for middle school students who are struggling to learn key concepts like fractions that are preventing them from being ready for Algebra. If you are a math teacher, you know fractions are a challenge for students. But it isn’t just for the middle grades. Woot Math is used in conjunction with the core curriculum as early as 3rd grade. And used in intervention and remediation for middle and even high school students.

In fact, a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation showed a 2X improvement in learning outcomes when students use Woot Math compared to when they do not.

Woot Math works with leading researchers to bring the best of learning sciences and mathematics education to life in fun and engaging ways to help students succeed. We are used across the world with great success. In fact, a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation showed a 2X improvement in learning outcomes when students use Woot Math compared to when they do not.

This study was a randomized crossover trial (Woot Math was blinded to this study), and run by researchers from the University of Colorado and University of Minnesota. It included 23 teachers (4th and 5th grade) from 8 schools and 2 districts.

The crossover trial involved a pre assessment, Woot Math or Business as Usual for 10 instructional hours, followed by a mid assessment. The groups then swap treatments, and end with a post assessment.

The results show that students learned more when Woot Math was added to classroom instruction than they did from “Business as Usual” instruction. The gains seen were 29% from pre-mid and 38% from mid-post assessment.

How are these types of outcomes achieved? Woot Math provides short-form video and fun problem-solving to explore and build conceptual understanding of the most challenging topics our students face. It isn’t skill-and-drill, but instead is focused on truly helping students understand the reason behind how rational numbers work.

In addition to the short videos, Woot Math includes multiple layers of scaffolded help, including review levels, quick tips, extra video instruction, and foundational levels. The scaffolded help goes beyond just assessing right/wrong, and also includes real-time analysis of each student’s work to address their specific struggling points – tailoring the content to meet each student’s personal needs.

Many adults also need help with fractions.

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s (as reported by the New York Times)

One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder; in taste tests, customers preferred A&W’s burger. And it was less expensive. A lavish A&W television and radio marketing campaign cited these benefits. Yet instead of leaping at the great value, customers snubbed it.

Only when the company held customer focus groups did it become clear why. The Third Pounder presented the American public with a test in fractions. And we failed. Misunderstanding the value of one-third, customers believed they were being overcharged. Why, they asked the researchers, should they pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as they did for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s. The “4” in “¼,” larger than the “3” in “⅓,” led them astray.

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/why-do-americans-stink-at-math.html

Why is Algebra such a stumbling block?

What is keeping our students from succeeding? Fractions, of course. We know that our students are struggling to master these key concepts. We also know that it is critical that they do so.

Why is Algebra such a stumbling block for our students? What is keeping them from succeeding? Fractions, of course. As stated in this seminal paper:
“Understanding fractions is crucial for mathematics learning…
It is also predictive for students’ mathematical achievement years later.”

– Bridging the gap: Fraction understanding is central to mathematics achievement in students from three different continents. Torbeyns, Schneider, Xin, and Siegler, 2015
So what is the solution? At Woot Math, we know that all students, regardless of their ability or their grade level, can master fractions and rational numbers. Thanks to pioneers such as Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, the message is getting out that there is no “math gene”. In fact, the research shows that all students can complete the Calculus sequence. But in order to do that, it takes time, perseverance, and perhaps above all, confidence to do so. This is where a great tutor, whether it be in-person or technology based (such as Woot Math) can help.

Digital Manipulatives

Students are able to interact and connect multiple representations, a critical bridge to fluency with rational numbers.

Our adaptive technology is able to go beyond right or wrong and address each student's actual work. This enables us to deliver personalized instruction.

Multiple Models

Help build effective mental models. Multiple representations of concepts and engaging, hands-on interactions deepen number sense.

Instuctional Video

Inline, instructional video introduces the students to new concepts, and, when they are struggling, gives additional, scaffolded instruction.

Actionable Data

Quickly assess screenshots of student work to gain insight into areas of struggle and success. Woot Math gives you the data you need, when you need it.

Engaging for Students

Designed for middle school students. 95% of students have found Woot Math helpful, and would recommend Woot Math to another student.

At Woot Math, our passion is to help all students be successful. As stated by Dr. Siegler, the ramifications for us not doing so are much too high.

“If you don't understand fractions, it's literally impossible for you to understand algebra, geometry, physics, statistics, chemistry.
It closes a lot of doors for children.”
Dr. Bob Siegler, Carnegie Mellon University
The Wall Street Journal, 2013

We invite you to try Woot Math with your students. Whether you are a teacher, a homeschool parent, or a tutor, we believe you will have a great experience. And more importantly, it will help your students master the key foundational topics that they need to be successful.

There is no obligation and it is entirely free.

New Feature: Active Learning Through Student Volunteers

Woot Math has a new feature to help you promote active learning during formative assessment activities in your classroom. You might be thinking, “Wait...doesn’t Woot Math already do that?”. That’s right. Students have always been able to show their work during formative assessments. Now, they can also volunteer to present their work or have the teacher use their work as an exemplar.

Student work is always saved when running a formative assessment. After students complete the task, in teacher-led mode teachers can review examples of anonymous student work in real-time with the class. Now, the teacher can also ask for volunteers by clicking on the volunteers tab. Once they do, students can now volunteer to share their work with the class.

Select High Quality Student Work

Once students have volunteered, the teacher sees tiles from each of the student volunteers. The teacher can then determine which student volunteer they want to project by simply clicking on the tile.

– Teacher Sees Work From Student Volunteers –

For this problem, Joelle and Aaron have volunteered their solutions. The green check box indicates that they both have the correct answer. The teacher can turn off revealing the correct answer by deselecting “reveal answer”. Sometimes it is helpful to project student work without the answer revealed – students can then use critical thinking and analytical skills when they have to justify their responses before being told if they are correct.

Promote Active Learning: Have Students Present Their Work

To promote active learning, the teacher can select one of the volunteers to explain their solution. In this case, it appears that Joelle has shown more extensive work than Aaron. Work for this blog post comes from the activity called Pythagoras’ Park. Students apply their understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem to story problems about walking through a park. Check it out here.

– Projected Volunteer Student's Worked Solution –

We see that Joelle has used the Pythagorean Theorem to solve the question. She also remembered to find the positive and negative solutions to 25=c². This attention to detail makes it a great opportunity for active learning. Joelle can present her thinking to the class while other students can learn from her example. Of course, the teacher can also use this feature to present students’ work on their behalf.

This is a great feature to try out if you are looking to get your students more engaged in active learning. You can also use this feature to encourage students to take risks. Reassure them that it is good to share their thinking, even if they aren’t 100% correct yet.

We recommend you check out the Pythagoras’ Park activity as a review of they Pythagorean Theorem. It would also work well as a quick refresher for students who have already learned it! Previewing the activity now using the link below. Or, login to wootmath.com and search for “Pythagoras” in the Shared Gallery.

Preview Pythagoreas’ Park

Visit our page on Formative Assessment for more on how to use this free tool in your classroom.