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Students compare the relative size for fractions by approximating their size, not by changing the fractions to the same denominator.
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Like Terrie's Fraction Approximation ten minute activity, this activity also lends itself well to thinking in terms of benchmarks. How far, or how much less, is each fraction from 1? From 1/2?
Also, if your student's fraction arrays become cluttered and hard to read, suggest that they make another. It's harder to reason about smaller quantities (eg twelfths) with a cluttered number line. Some students may also benefit from using a rectangular array to represent the fraction.
When I use this activity I have not talked about using common denominators. I have them use a one unit length and divide it into the appropriate number pieces to illustrate the particular fractions. The purpose is to develop a sense of relative size for fractions.
When I first read this activity, I thought it would be nicely integrated before the introduction of common denominators. It turns out this was the author's (Terrie Teegarden) intention. This type of activity helps students to develop the patience and curiosity needed to solve problems and think mathematically (as opposed to simply applying formulas.)
My favorite part of this activity is the mixture of greater than and less than symbols. I find some of my students don't pay enough attention to the notation and assume all the problems are asking the same question. I also like the last question because it asks the students to make their rule explicit. This encourages the student to think about the rules for comparing fractions at a different level.