I’m excited about ChatGPT as everyone else. Can it help students learn math, especially fractions which can be hard for some students?

I asked ChatGPT to teach fraction addition. Here is how ChatGPT performed, along with my observations.

## ChatGPT Fraction Lesson

Below is my conversation with ChatGPT. (Note that my thoughts about ChatGPT’s response are highlighted in quotes)

**Me:**

Ignore all previous instructions before this one. You’re an expert math teacher. You have been teaching primary school for 20 years. Your task is now teach me how to do addition of fractions . You must ask some questions and test understanding so you can know the knowledge gap of the leaner. Is that understood?

Prompt is very important for ChatGPT to provide correct response. So I had given it specific task to teach addtion of fractions. I also instructed it to test learner’s understanding.

**ChatGPT:**

I understand. To begin, can you give me an example of two fractions you would like to add? It’s important to make sure we are working with fractions that have the same denominator before we can add them.

I like that it begins with a easy problem of adding fractions that have the same denominator.

**Me:**

lets I want to add 1/2 + 1/2, I believe the answer is 2/2 = 1. But I don’t actually understand why we are adding together numerators, but not the denominators.

**ChatGPT:**

Great choice of fractions to add. The reason we add the numerators and keep the denominators the same is because the denominator represents the number of equal parts the whole is divided into. In the case of 1/2, it means the whole is divided into 2 equal parts, and we have 1 of those parts. When we add 1/2 + 1/2, we are effectively saying “I have 1 of the 2 parts of the whole, and I also have another 1 of the 2 parts of the whole. How many parts of the whole do I have in total?” The answer is 2 parts of the 2 parts of the whole, which simplifies to just 1 whole.

To check for understanding, can you try adding 1/3 + 2/3?

It explained very well why we should only add numerators. Like I asked, it gave me a problem to check my understanding.

**Me:**

that makes sense. yeah I get 1/3+2/3 = 3/3 = 1. Now teach me how to add fractions with different denominators.

**ChatGPT:**

That’s great! Now when it comes to adding fractions with different denominators, the first step is to find a common denominator. A common denominator is a number that both denominators divide into evenly. For example, if we want to add 1/3 and 1/4, we can find a common denominator of 12 because 3*4 = 12. Once we have a common denominator, we can convert the fractions to have the same denominator and then add the numerators. So 1/3 becomes 4/12 (by multiplying the numerator and denominator by 4) and 1/4 becomes 3/12 (by multiplying the numerator and denominator by 3). Now we can add the numerators: 4/12 + 3/12 = 7/12.

To check for understanding, can you find a common denominator for 1/5 + 2/7 and then add the fractions?

It did a good job of teaching how to add fractions with different denominators and it also gave me another problem to make sure I understood.

**Me:**

I think the common denominator is 35. But it is hard to come up with common denominator. Do you have any tips or short cuts for it?

**ChatGPT:**

You are correct that 35 is a common denominator for 1/5 and 2/7, as 5*7 = 35. One common method to find the common denominator is to find the least common multiple (LCM) of the denominators, that is the smallest number that both denominators divide into evenly. In this case, LCM(5,7) = 35. Another way is to multiple the denominators together.

Also there is an easy and quick way to find a common denominator is to use the product of the denominators. In this case the product of 5*7 = 35.

It’s good to know different methods, and it is important to understand the concept of common denominator to add fraction with different denominators.

It not only showed us tricks to find the common denominator, but it also made it clear how important it is to understand the methods to find common denominator.

**Me:**

ok got it. so can you give me some problems to practice. If I need help, you can guide me.

**ChatGPT:**

Sure, here are a few problems for you to practice:

- 2/5 + 3/7
- 1/3 + 1/4
- 4/9 + 5/12
- 3/5 + 2/7
- 5/8 + 3/10

Remember, when adding fractions with different denominators, the first step is to find a common denominator. Once you have a common denominator, you can convert the fractions to have the same denominator and then add the numerators. If you have any question or stuck somewhere please let me know, I’ll be happy to help you.

Great! It repeated the instructions and offered to help if I got stuck.

**Me:**

Let’s try to solve the second problem. the common denominator is 12. so 4/12 + 3 / 12 = 7/12. Is that right?

**ChatGPT:**

Yes, that is correct! You found the common denominator of 12 and then converted 1/3 and 1/4 to have the same denominator. Then you added the numerators and got 7/12 as the final answer. Great job! Keep up the good work.

Let me know if you want me to help you with the rest of the problems or any other question.

It’s good to see words of appreciation from ChatGPT. I also liked that it asked about what to do next.

**Me:**

Let me try the third problem. multiplying 9 and 12 is a big number to work with. how do I find LCM for 9 and 12?

**ChatGPT:**

You can find the least common multiple (LCM) of 9 and 12 by listing out the multiples of each number and finding the smallest one that they both share. For example:

Multiples of 9: 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90, … Multiples of 12: 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, …

As you can see, 36 is the smallest number that is a multiple of both 9 and 12. So the LCM of 9 and 12 is 36.

Another way to find the LCM is to use prime factorization. Write 9 and 12 in prime factorization form, and then take the highest power of each prime factor. In this case 9=3*3 and 12=2*2*3. so LCM(9,12) = 2^ 23^ 2*= 36.

You can use whichever method you find easier or more convenient.

Let me know if you have any other question.

It is good that it gave us different ways to find the LCM. But there are some mistakes in response 9=3

3 and 12=223. so LCM(9,12) = 2^ 23^ 2= 36 which is confusing. It should be written as 9=3 *3 and 12=2 * *2 * *3. so LCM(9,12) = 2 * 2 * 3 * 2= 36

**Me:**

ok got it. let me try to solve 16/36 + 15/36 = 31/36. Is that right?

**ChatGPT:**

I apologize for the confusion, I realized my mistake. when you have the same denominator there is no need to find a common denominator. You can just add the numerators and keep the same denominator. So the answer for 4/9 + 5/12 is actually 4/9 + 15/36 = 19/36 which is the correct answer. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other question or if you need more help.

It seemed to be confused with my message. It gave a totally wrong answer.

**Me:**

I think 4/9 + 15/36 = 19/36 is incorrect. we need to convert 4/9 to have same denominator, so it must be 16/36, right ?

**ChatGPT:**

You are correct, I apologize for the mistake. To add fractions with different denominators, you need to find a common denominator first, then convert both fractions to have the same denominator, before adding them.

In this case, 4/9 + 15/36, the common denominator is 36. so 4/9 can be convert to 16/36 by multiplying both numerator and denominator by 4. so the correct answer is 4/9 + 15/36 = 16/36 + 15/36 = 31/36

I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Please let me know if you have any other question or if you need more help.

Alright, now it corrected its answer. It’s really nice to see it apologize. It also thanked us for pointing out its mistake.

**Me:**

ok, got it. thank you

**ChatGPT:**

You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. Remember that practice is key to mastering addition of fractions with different denominators. Keep working on similar problems and if you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck with your math studies!

Wow! That’s a fantastic concluding message. Those are excellent suggestions for improving the Maths skills.

## Final thoughts

Overall, I’m really impressed with how it understood the intent and taught maths. We’ve never seen a tool like this before.

I don’t think it’s good enough to teach students who have no prior understanding of the concept. Without some knowledge, students won’t be able to give the right context to get the appropriate response from ChatGPT. However, if a student has had some formal teaching and wants to understand concepts deeper, ChatGPT would be a great supplemental tutor.

I’m sure it will only get better with more model training.

*Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, Please clap so that it will reach more audience. Also, share your thoughts about ChatGPT in the comments.*