HALF Helping At-risk students Learn Fractions


The HALF intervention enables teachers to deliver instruction about fractions content that aligns with the 5th and 6th grade Common Core Standards while simultaneously supporting students who failed to master more basic fractions content that students typically learn in 3rd and 4th grade. The instructional model used in the HALF intervention is a mixed-methods instructional model that is based on the instructional model that Ted Hasselbring and Laura Goin developed for READ 180. READ 180 appears in the US Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse and is one of the most successful reading interventions in the US today (Slavin, Cheung, Groff, and Lake, 2008).

Virtual Manipulatives

Manipulatives are a research-supported way of promoting conceptual understanding within fractions instruction Behr, Cramer, Harel, Lesh, & Post, 2002). Because of this, the Common Core Standards for Mathematics place a strong emphasis on students being able to use and understand visual models to support their answers to problems. Virtual manipulatives are fully integrated into the HALF instructional model and intelligent tutoring system. Having virtual, rather than physical, manipulatives means that they are easier to implement in the classroom (no little pieces to lose!) and can be used with the intelligent tutoring system's embedded scaffolds.

Instructional Model

Similar to READ 180, each day of instruction using HALF begins with a brief, whole-class discussion. At the end of the whole class discussion, students participate in 3 small-group rotations:

Rather than the students moving between three physical locations in the classroom, the teacher initiates each new rotation from the dashboard interface on her tablet. The students' tablets automatically change to the next activity. The teacher rotates from group to group while the students remain stationary at their desks.