Division Division Division!

Saturday, December 5, 2015
DIVISION is a STRUGGLE to teach. It is such a hard concept for the students to learn! Why? Because often times we (or maybe it is just me???) want to just show the students how to do it, step by step, and expect the kids to just GET IT! But that definitely doesn't do it! Another challenge? Often times we introduce division and the students STILL do not know their multiplication facts. Sound familiar? How many times have you told a parent that the child needs to work on mastering their multiplication facts??? I know I have felt like a broken record with that one.  Now to top it off, common core math stresses the dreaded "alternate strategies" for a concept that was tricky and confusing to begin with.  Now, students need to know the "regular" way AND some other funky ways.  This is for sure how I felt until I actually taught those other funky ways! The funky ways (I keep that term to myself;)) actually made ALOT of sense to the kids! First let's start with the algorithm.  I like to try to make the algorithm FUN because, let's face it….it's NOT.  So, to let the students practice the algorithm in a fun and engaging way, I have them play Division Tic-Tac-Toe.  Here the students FEEL like they are playing a game when actually they are practicing their skills.  The best part? You can pair students that would be able to act as "peer tutors" because they watch each other complete the division problem with a fine tooth comb-wanting to catch errors in their partners work (and helping each other as well!) It is a WIN WIN!!! Download this game for free by clicking on the photo below.
Now let's talk about the FUNKY strategies… :) 
Funky Division Strategy #1) Partial Quotient
This was just confusing to me.  It sounds impressive and looks impressive and rigorous…..but what does it actually mean???? I'll try to explain it….here it goes! For the partial quotient strategy, students need to constantly ask themselves WHAT NUMBER can I MULITPLY the divisor by to get to the TOTAL dividend without going over.  Why do I like this strategy? Because they do not need to break up the quotient to do this (like in the algorithm.)  They treat the quotient as a total number and I just think that is an easier concept for students to grasp. They repeat this until they can't subtract anymore.  If you are a visual learner (like myself) take a look at the visual below to see this strategy in action.

I also have the poster seen below in the room:
Funky Division Strategy #2) Area Model
Area Model. This took me a while! Am I the only one? If I, the teacher are a tad confused with this, imagine how the students feel? I just kept reminding them…..you will get through this!!! With the area model, it is actually very similar to the partial quotient strategy…just written down in a different way. I think you actually need to just look at the model to figure this one out.  They start by drawing a box and write the dividend.  They write the divisor on the left side of the box and then go through the steps seen on the poster.  See the poster below that I post in my room.
Culminating Activity
To display all of the strategies as a culminating activity I had the students PROVE to me their knowledge. I let them choose a partner.  Partners equal IMMEDIATE fun in my room, even if it is for DIVISION (hee hee!) Partner pairs had a job to do.  They needed to CREATE their own division word problems.  (and write them below on the green post-it note) The only restrictions? I told them that they needed to have a 4 digit dividend and a 2 digit divisor.  Students LOVED writing the word problems since they could "personalize" them. Next, students showed their work using 3 strategies that we had focused on.  They needed to show their work as seen below. The best part? If one of their answers didn't match the others, they knew that they had made an error somewhere and needed to go back and check their work.  Finally, I made them write to explain how they solved the area model and partial quotient.  Most groups divvied the work up and each partner worked to explain.  This was great because they were really more inclined to use their academic vocabulary in order to explain the dividend, quotient, etc….
Again, click on the picture above to get the labels for this activity.
Do you have any tricks for teaching division?

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