I try to use "math talk" about fractions all day long in my classroom. I find that the more I use this language in every day situations, the more my students do as well.
Here are my top two strategies for using fractions informally in the classroom:
1. Student line up!
As we are waiting to exit the room to head to specials, lunch, etc., I might give a compliment such as, "Wow! 2/3 of our line is really on track! Way to go!" or "Great work to the last 3rd of our line, they have a marshmallow in their mouths and they have their hands to themselves!" This way, students are hearing the "fraction" language in settings other than our hour math block. Try it out some time! You could go even further and ask someone to explain what the "whole" in these situtations would be! (The WHOLE line or 26 students for me, if everyone is present! If your students are really catching on, another challenge question would be to ask how many students 1/3 of the class would be! There are so many possibilties!)
2. Make it cute, quick, and colorful.
If I want to have an informal check up to see how students are doing on a concept, I might give each partnership a piece of paper and ask them to divide it in half. If I have a group of three it becomes even more of a brain twister as I ask them to divide the paper into thirds. This could also be done with each student by asking them to divide their papers in these ways by drawing lines. I then have them complete a quick activity, like drawing on only half of their paper, or shading in one fourth with their favorite color. These serve as quick, fun, and informative brain breaks as well!
Below I have an example of a pre-made cute,quick, and colorful fraction check up...kids love "catching" fractions!
We want to know:
How do you use fractions informally in your classroom?