by Leo Reynolds

In a recent discussion about fractions in one of my online math courses, a student claimed s/he does not use fractions in her/his daily life but only in math courses. This student's response was a precious "teaching moment" to promote math awareness of how math is embedded in our lives. Below, you will find my reply to this student's post:

Thank you for your response, though I may have to respectfully disagree with

your assessment that you do not use fractions in your daily life. We are

constantly working with portions or making decisions out of a set of choices

in our daily lives, which is the same as working with fractions. Here are a

few examples:

-- When pouring milk, juice, or soda in a cup, we are using a portion (fraction!) of the milk, juice, or soda available in the container.

-- When we receive our paycheck, a part (fraction!) of our money is used to pay the bills.

-- When we stop at an intersection and decide to make a left turn, your decision

(fraction!) was based on 4 posibilities: go straight, turn left, turn right, or go back (U-turn).

-- When we go shopping and take advantage of the sale of 25% off (fraction!) on every item.

-- When we type our name in the computer, we only use a few keys (fraction!) of the

keyboard.

-- When we have a headache, we take 1 or 2 Tylenol tablets (fraction!) out of the bottle.

These are only a few examples. There will be many more in this discussion, which I hope it will help you gain awareness that we all use fractions (and math!) every day in our lives.

I hope this helps.

Help me add more examples to this list, so I can share them with my students.

## 4 comments:

In defense of the student, they don't use fractions the way they are taught in school. I agree fractions are everywhere. I've long held that the most important mathematics ever taught are middle school math (ratio/proportion/number sense) because we use them daily whether we want to or not. I will also argue that we seldom use them the way they are taught (procedurally with a focus on computation).

I wish your student could say, I use fractions all the time because they were able to connect their daily experience with their classroom experience. Unfortunately, his/her reality is that they don't use fractions in their daily experience, but I don't think that is their fault.

Great post!

thinking about the article I just read makes me realize how it is absolutly true. everyday I have to pass the toll to go to my house, I pay 50 cents wich is .50 of a dollar. or speaking "fraction" 1/2 of a dollar. i think it is really incredible how people really use math in an day to day basis, without even noticing.

Alan Perez

One of the most basic uses of fractions on a daily basis is time. We talk about a "half-hour" or a "quarter of an hour" all the time. Money is another example - the fact that we often say "a quarter" rather than "twenty-five cents."

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