Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Reinforcing Fractions Using a Fraction Calculator

Joseph Furner PhD


This lesson incorporates the use of Texas Instruments (TI) Explorer Calculators to reteach and reinforce operations with fraction/mixed number concepts using technology.


The student reads, writes, and identifies whole numbers, fractions, and mixed numbers.

The student knows that numbers in different forms are equivalent or nonequivalent, using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, mixed numbers, and percents.

The student solves real-world problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, and addition, subtraction, and multiplication of decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers using an appropriate method (for example, mental math, pencil and paper, calculator).


-Class set of TI-Explorer Calculators, TI-Explorer Plus, or TI-34II Calculators
-Overhead TI-Explorer Calculator for teacher demonstration
-Book: Pallotta, Jerry and Bolster, Rob. [The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book]. New York: Scholastic, 1999.
-Regular-size Hershey's milk chocolate bars (packs of 6, students can work in pairs and share)
-Classroom computers with Internet access
-Fraction Calculator Tutorial Activity Sheet, one per student (See Associated File)
-Classroom fraction/number line
-Selected pages from your current textbook and/or worksheets with fraction computation type problems for extra practice with the calculator


1. Have calculators/overhead available for lesson.
2. Bookmark selected Websites for easy access. (See Weblinks)
3. Obtain and preview [The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book] by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster.
4. Download and copy the Fraction Calculator Tutorial Activity Sheet for each student. (See Associated File)
5. Buy regular-size Hershey's milk chocolate bars, enough for 2 students to share one (packs of 6 are more economical).
6. Select some extra fraction problems from your current textbook and/or workbook.
7. The teacher needs to review the use of the calculator regarding computation of fractions and be familiar with operating the overhead version of the TI-Explorer Calculator if available.


Students should have a firm understanding of fraction/decimal concepts and be able to do paper and pencil computations for operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) with fractions/mixed numbers/decimals as well have had concrete experiences with fractions/decimals using various manipulatives such as base-ten blocks, fraction bars, fraction circles, pattern blocks, etc.

1. Put students into pairs, and pass out the Hershey's milk chocolate bars.

2. Read, share and act out the problems from [The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book] by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster.

3. Allow students to act out the fraction problems in pairs as you read the book page by page. Be sure to allow enough time for the students to do each event on each page prior to moving on. They can share the candy bars.

4. Review the appropriate vocabulary related to fractions like: numerator, denominator, whole numbers, fractional part, etc. Pose the questions from the book and look for reasonable responses. Use the fraction/number line to refer to fractions between whole numbers and their placement on the number line.

5. Remind students that today's lesson is to reinforce operations with fractions but that they will be learning how to use the TI-Explorer Calculator to do the fraction operations. Use the overhead TI-Explorer Calculator to introduce and also review each of the keys on the calculator. Do a sample problem for them using the overhead calculator.

6. Place students in pairs to work on the following Fraction Calculator Tutorial Activity Sheet. (See Associated File)

7. Students apply their new knowledge by doing the word problem on the activity sheet (See Section J) using the TI-Explorer Calculator. The teacher may also choose a worksheet or a textbook page with actual fraction problems for students to apply their new understanding and skills of using the calculator to do operations with fractions/mixed numbers.

8. Have students complete questions on the activity sheet (Sections K-M) detailing their views on calculator usage.

9. If time permits, ask students to explore Internet Websites on the history of calculators and to try out different online calculators. (For a list of Websites, see Section N on the activity sheet and Weblinks.)

10. As a lesson finale, the teacher should summarize student views on calculator usage.


Formatively assess students through:
-Question and answer through reading the book, [The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar Fractions Book] by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster;
-Fraction Calculator Tutorial Activity Sheet (See Associated File for related Answer Key and Rubric);
-FCAT-type word problem with response within the Fraction Calculator Tutorial Activity Sheet (See Associated File, Section J);
-Observation while working with candy bars and calculators.

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


1. Use pattern blocks and the activities from the book [Geometry and Fractions with Pattern Blocks] by Barbara Brando Irvin (Lincolnshire, IL: Learning Resources, Inc., 1995).
2. Use pattern blocks and try some of the activities from the book [Actions with Fractions] Arthur Wiebe (Fresno, CA: AIMS, 1998).
3. Allow the students to continue using their calculators to do some of the fun activities in the book [Planet Dexter's Calculator Mania!] illustrated by Jack Keely (New York: Scholastic, 1996).
4. Read the children's book [Give Me Half!] by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996), and then use cupcakes or pizza like in the story to reinforce fraction concepts and operations.
5. Use the software [Math Mysteries] (through Delta Education) and allow the students to play the fraction section of the software to solve the mysteries as they relate to fractions. Students may use their calculators over paper and pencil to solve the problems.

Web Links

All of the following are History of Calculator Websites.
Collecting Calculators

Web supplement for Reinforcing Fractions using a Fraction Calculator
The Calculator Museum Web Page

(Please note that this site requires the capability of streaming video)
Calculator History Selected News

The following are Different Types of Calculators OnLine Websites.
Calculators Online Center

Web supplement for Reinforcing Fractions using a Fraction Calculator Website

ISTE Standards can be found here.
ISTE NETS Standards

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