Exploring Subtraction of Fractions

With CCSS students will need to explore mathematical principles, look for patterns and routines, and demonstrate conceptual understandings. In a fifth grade classroom, our students were subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. I wanted our students to grapple with the process and not just be given the steps. Students were given the following task.

In groups, students were asked to look at the subtraction problems and identify rules and patterns that they noticed. Engagement and critical thinking were clearly evident during the small group discussions. The subtraction problems were purposefully arranged to build on each other. After verifying the rules and patterns, students completed the Try It Out! problems to demonstrate understanding. Then came the big challenge. How could our students then apply these learnings to the ultimate subtraction problem...a problem with uncommon denominators and renaming? Click on the image for your copy if you would like to try this with your students.
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