Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • 3:  3rd Grade
  • NF:  Number and Operations–Fractions
  • 1:  Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a
    whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as
    the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • 3:  Grade 3
  • NF:  Numbers & Operations--Fractions
  • A:  Develop understanding of fractions as numbers
  • 1: 
    Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.

    Grade 3 expectations in this domain are limited to fractions with denominators 2, 3, 4, 6, 8.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • 3:  Grade 3
  • G:  Geometry
  • A:  Reason with shapes and their attributes
  • 2: 
    Partition shapes into parts with equal areas. Express the area of each part as a unit fraction of the whole. For example, partition a shape into 4 parts with equal area, and describe the area of each part as 1/4 of the area of the shape.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

What Fraction of this Shape is Red?
Lesson Objective: Students explore part and whole by creating pattern block designs
Grades 5-6 / Math / Fractions
Math.3.NF.1 | Math.3.NF.A.1 | Math.3.G.A.2

Thought starters

  1. How does using pattern blocks of multiple shapes push students thinking about partitioning into equal parts?
  2. Why does Mr. D have students explain their work geometrically, verbally, and in writing?
  3. How could Mr. D extend this lesson to develop students thinking around adding and subtracting fractions or decomposition of fractions?
The What Fraction of this Shape is Red video provides a look at a lesson that really demonstrates the Math Practices at play. Students were making sense of the problem and presevering, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics. This video allowed my newly hired teachers to see the Common Core in action!
Recommended (1)
Great hands on, engaging, and it encourages inquiry.
Recommended (1)
I thought I recognized Mr. Dickinson from Inside Mathematics! Great snippet of sound teaching and learning. There's much food for thought for CCSS teacher discussion groups. Thank you.
Recommended (0)
Not a new idea but a great idea it is indeed. I taught this lesson to a special ed Math class with 6, 7, and 8th grade students and also a 7th grade Pre-Algebra class. It can be such a meaningful lesson. Students get to be creative, solve each others fraction puzzle designs, and really describe the process of finding what fraction is red. This is a super lesson and must be incorporated in every 5th and 6th grade classroom at least once during a fraction unit. Tip: you can get foam pattern blocks from They also sell a book with lesson ideas using the pattern blocks which I am really curious about and will be buying before I start teaching my new 7th grade pre-algebra class this fall.
Recommended (2)
Love this idea!! Thank you, I'll be doing this tomorrow in my class!
Recommended (0)



  • Great Lesson Ideas: What Fraction of this Shape is Red?
    With Fran Dickinson

    Fran: Hi. My name is

    Great Lesson Ideas: What Fraction of this Shape is Red?
    With Fran Dickinson

    Fran: Hi. My name is Fran Dickinson, and I teach fifth and sixth grade math. And uh, one of the ways I get my kids to think about fractions, and the concept of the whole, is by investigating with pattern blocks.

    An abstract concept such as fractions, really does require some hands on manipulatives, and so the manipulative that we choose to use for fractions is pattern blocks.

    "So what fractional part of my design was blue?"

    We started off having the learners look at the fractional parts of my original design, and then from there, create their own.

    "So, for example, Bryan here has, on his pattern block triangle paper, uh, what fraction of the design is green. So, when we come and we're solving Bryan's pattern, we're gonna be looking for what fractional part the green pieces are. OK?"

    The learners are instructed to go ahead and solve the pattern block design. What fractional part is yellow, red, green, whatever.

    Student: "Six out of 15 is in uh, rhombuses. Right here."

    Student: "I'm counting, uh, how many triangles there are in this pattern because all the shapes could be measured in triangles."

    Student: "So, we just counted all the triangles in this, and then, that was 103, and then the green ones were, we found 23 green triangles. So, our fraction is 23 out of 103."

    Fran: And so learners were using any strategy that they could, using pattern blocks, numbers, words, to describe what they see.

    Student: "I did it in hexagons, uh, trapezoids, triangles, and rhombuses."

    Fran: In their work, I'm looking for the learners to, in the numerator, identify the parts that are in the color that they're being asked to find.

    "Which one of these two numbers, the numerator or the denominator in Sam's answer, represents the whole? And, which one of these represents the yellow part?"

    Student: "The yellow is the numerator."

    Student: "The yellow is the 18, and then the whole is the 36."

    Fran: "OK. Good."

    In addition to asking them to investigate the patterns, I'm also instructing them to use multiple representations.

    "When I ask you to represent your answer using these multiple representations, the reason I'm asking you to do that is because if you can do it in the numeric way, it has to be done in the geometric way as well. We have to be able to represent it in that way as well. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense for our story."

    Student: "We're gonna build uh, this, and then we're gonna find out the different ways to solve it."

    Student: "First I divided the entire design into triangles. There were 32 triangles, so the total number is 32 on the bottom. Twelve were red, so 12 is the number on the top, which makes 12/32 the answer."

    Student: "It's uh, 0.375."

    Student: "There are 32 triangles in this shape, and nine of them are red. So my answer is 9/32. We've, we found our answer, but we're trying to like explain it in words now."

    Fran: It's really important for learners to uh, play around with the concept of one. Fifth graders have to think about the idea of the whole changing. In the big picture, this is about having a flexible mindset, being able to call something the "one" but it doesn't have to physically look like just one piece.

    Student: "All of these pieces make up the whole, so that's, well all the triangles that make up these pieces make the whole, so that's 26 triangles. And, then um, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 are red. So that would be 9/26ths."

    Fran: That's kind of a big "AHA!" moment for the kids, and once they get there, I, I found that solutions came flying out of them, and they were really ready to, to push the boundary of the concept of the whole.

School Details

San Carlos Charter Learning Center
750 Dartmouth Avenue
San Carlos CA 94070
Population: 352

Data Provided By:



Fran Dickinson
English Language Arts Math / 5 6 / Teacher



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture