# Fifth Grade Math: Mixed Numbers and the Distributive Property. Is That Possible?

Fifth graders have been working operations with fractions.  In fourth grade, they only added fractions with like denominators.  Now, the expectation is to add and subtract with unlike denominators.  They have been using their understandings of equivalence from fourth grade to create common denominators.  Most have been successful with this.

The difficulty comes when we encounter something like this: 5 1/3 – 2 ⅝.  Once we create common denominators, our fractions are 5 8/24 – 2 15/24. It is not easy to subtract 15/24 from 8/24.  We shared a number of strategies in class, which included converting to improper fractions, counting up or back and representing it on a number line, and regrouping by borrowing a whole from the whole number and renaming the fraction.  Most students found the last strategy to be the most manageable for them, but they can use whatever they feel most comfortable with. If they find they are having some difficulty with the concept, here is the link to a video that explains it very clearly: