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?

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?

Decimals, Commas, Thousands, and Lakhs

I’ll finish this series on place value and writing numbers, with a question that’s not quite as simple as you might think: why we use commas and decimal points as we do. Americans may be surprised at some of the answers – and some of the questions.

Fractions: What Are They, and Why?

We’ve looked at some specific ideas about fractions (their proper definition, their relationship to decimals, and how to divide them); it’s time to go through this topic from the beginning. Here we’ll look at how they are introduced to beginners, and how to keep them from hurting our brains!

Compass and Straightedge: Why?

Some time ago I looked at questions about trisecting an angle by compass and straightedge, which entailed discussing the rules for such constructions. We left open another common question: Why are such constructions important, and why do we use those particular tools? This probably isn’t explained as often as it should be. Why does it …

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