Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Five-tenths is the same as one-half


So, the kid is in second grade. Yesterday he was working on a practice math test and turned it in today. When I asked him about it this afternoon he said he got six wrong because he has a hard time with fractions.

I asked him to give me an example. He said one problem had two rows of five for a total of ten. Five of them were shaded in. He wrote 1/2 as the answer and it was marked wrong.

Reader, they wanted him to write 5/10.

Say it with me now, “5/10 is the same as 1/2.”


The kid is not having problems with fractions.


7 thoughts on “Five-tenths is the same as one-half

  1. That is a little shocking….even though it was about 15 years ago we were always taught to make fractions go as small as it can. Anyway just shows he is ahead of the curve πŸ™‚

    • I’m thinking it’s just that they don’t have the ability to accept an answer outside of the given formula (number shaded over totql number). This makes it even more confusing to a student (and why I think the kid has internalized this “bad at fractions” thing) because later on they’ll ask a student to circle 2/3 of the objects in a group of 12. Why not keep it consistent and ask them to circle 8/12 of the items if they’ll only accept 5/10 in the first set of problems?

      My other curiosity is if students graded each other’s papers and being literal minded the other student didn’t really understand that they were the same thing. Still, I think that a learning opportunity was lost and sets students up for needing to unlearn bad habits later on (much like the fact that you can subtract a larger number from a smaller number – it’s called a negative number, of course) let alone the sorts of negative internal narratives that kids develop.

      The former homeschooler in me cringes at this sort of thing, but I’ve been trying not to intervene. I have not gotten the vibe that this sort of thing is welcome. Still, he gets it wrong on the test, I’m sending my heavy in to argue the kid’s case. The husband seems to have a much better rapport with the teacher.

      Not surprisingly, a return to homeschooling is in our future.


  2. Dad says the same thing. Granted we are older than dirt but that is how we were taught. Perhaps someone needs to teach the teacher.

    • :0) So does anyone else I’ve told this story. I blame the curriculum more than anything. This year’s math could have been far more disastrous than it has been were it not for the kid’s teacher. I’m wondering if maybe another student corrected his practice test? That seems more logical, but still, it’s not a wrong answer!

  3. If that were my test paper I would argue very strongly against the question being marked wrong. What is this world coming to? πŸ™‚

    • Since it was only a practice test, my gut feeling is to let it slide. We’re going to review what the “right” answer is for the test (number shaded in over total number altogether) because sometimes there is value in giving the “right” answer even if there are other, better answers to the question at hand. πŸ˜‰

      I’m hoping we can scaffold up and preserve his confidence because he is not “bad at fractions.” I would argue he’s understood the concept at a deeper level. Mark my words, though, if the same thing happens to the kid on the test, Mom and Dad are going to argue his case for him.