Sines Without Right Triangles

(A new question of the week) A recent question dealt with an apparent conflict between the right-triangle definition of sines and cosines, and the unit-circle definition, pertaining to multiples of 90° (angles on the axes). This provides an opportunity to look closely at the relationship between those two definitions. Two definitions Recall that the right-triangle …

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Dividing Fractions: Can You Picture It?

We’ve looked at what it means to multiply fractions, including whole and mixed numbers; now it’s time for division of fractions. We’ll start here with pictures, similar to what we did for multiplication, but a little more complicated. Then next time, we’ll see additional ways to understand why we “invert and multiply”.

Simplifying Sums and Quotients of Radicals

(A new question of the week) A recent question asked about the reasons for differences in the work of simplifying different kinds of radical expressions. We’ll look at that general question, with two specific examples, and then consider an older problem of the same type.

Multiplying Fractions by Whole or Mixed Numbers

Last week we looked at how to multiply fractions, and why we do it that way. But what do we do when one of the numbers is a whole number, or when one or both are mixed numbers? And do we have to do it the way we are taught?

Fractions and Felonies

(A new question of the week) A recent question involved a word problem about fractions, which will fit in nicely with the current series on fractions. We’ll explore several ways to solve a rather tricky fraction word problem, some avoiding fractions as much as possible, some focusing on the meaning of the fractions, and others …

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Multiplying Fractions

Last week we looked at some questions about multiplication that arise once students learn to multiply fractions or decimals. Let’s turn to the underlying question: How do you multiply fractions, and why do we do it that way? How does cancelling fit in?