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The STEM shift: A guide for school leaders

Society in general, employers and schools are seeing STEM as a way of equipping students with the 21st century skills needed to succeed in further education and the workplace.

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Sequencing and counting

Students peg fraction cards (e.g. \(\frac{1}{5},\frac{2}{5},\frac{3}{5},\frac{4}{5},\frac{5}{5}\)) onto a rope marked with 0 at one end and 1 at the other, adjusting the spacing as needed to create equal intervals. Spacing can be checked by folding the rope.

Focus attention on the distance between 0 and 1 being the whole, and \(\frac{1}{5}\) being the unit of measure.

So \(\frac{1}{5}\) is one-fifth of the distance from 0 toward 1.

Highlight the fact that \(\frac{5}{5}\) is the same as 1.

Ask students to count forwards and backwards by fractions. This reinforces the idea that fractions are indeed numbers, each with their own position on a number line.

Line from zero to one divided into fifths, labelled at the end of the interval. Another line from zero to one divided into fifths, labelled in the centre of the interval. Second line incorrect.

Correctly labelling number lines.

Change the labelling on the rope number line to extend from 0 to 2 or beyond, and ask students to locate fraction cards such as \(\frac{7}{5}\) or \(1\frac{2}{5}\).

Realising that improper fractions and mixed numbers extend fractions beyond 1 is an important part of understanding fractions as numbers.

Fraction cards pegged to a rope to show intervals of quarters between zero and five quarters. Four quarters is also marked as 1.

Quarters pegged on a rope.