Adventures in Numbertown - An Introduction
The problem many people have with school arithmetic [fractions] is that they never get to the meaning stage; it remains forever an abstract game of formal symbols.
Keith   Devlin, The Math Instinct

Mastering fractions is a strong indicator of future math success. We have to pay our dues at the fraction toll booth before we can travel the highway to Algebra 1. Tom Hanks, in the movie A League of Their Own, captures the dilemma perfectly when confronting a discouraged female baseball player who wants to quit the team, saying it got too hard. “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great!” You’ve got to be great to master fractions in elementary school, because most likely the barriers will be
nearly impossible to overcome.
 The best you can hope for is a fragile understanding that will make you grasp for formulas when you are confused. The way I see it is that we need to come up with ways that help children not only to succeed with fractions but also to see their trip through school as an adventure which includes challenges to engage in because they are motivated.

“Instead of making kids learn math, let’s make math kids will learn.”

-Seymour Papert

According to Hung-Hsi Wu, the reason why this subject is the bane of elementary school students has been extensively investigated but to our knowledge no dramatic progress has yet surfaced as to the efficacy of students learning fractions.

One of the problems is that in contrast to units of whole number learning – topics in rational numbers are usually covered quickly and superficially whereas focus on operations, fractions, decimals and percent get a lot more time.  While procedural competence is certainly important, it must be anchored by conceptual understanding. For a great many students, it is not. (How Students Learn, p. 319)

So what I hope to provide is an antidote for your students' fraction malaise pandemic.
I call it an
 Adventure in Numbertown. So let's begin our adventure! I hope you enjoy it.
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