This may be an unpopular opinion, but the traditional algorithm for division is outdated and needs to go away.
Let me explain. The traditional algorithm for any computation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) is a procedure and when taught alone does not make math meaningful and make math make sense to students. We as adults need to remove our “algebra glasses” and recognize that students need to learn new topics conceptually first. Students need to discover how they can use ideas they already know to solve a new given problem. During reading instruction I’ve seen a lot of teachers relate a texts to other texts, texts to real world, and have students relate the text to themselves.
Are we doing the same in math class?
Are we expanding the world of comprehension with your students?
Do your students…
- Create mental images?
- Use their schema?
- Ask questions?
- Make connections?
- Determine importance?
Let’s build problem solvers. Problem solvers do these four things consistently.
I was recently asked to created a quick video for some 5th grade teachers on other ways they can teach division to their students. This video isn’t “quick”… it ended up being about 35 minutes. Sorry! I do think that all 35 minutes are valuable though. I don’t rush through things, I tried to take my time and make the strategies meaningful for you to understand.
Making the shift from teaching procedurally to conceptually to discovery based is hard. It’s uncomfortable for us as adults because that is not how we were taught, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. We owe it to our students to learn how to look at math differently, so that they have a chance to truly understand the math behind the math and not memorize procedures.
Grab a snack, your favorite beverage, maybe even your teaching partner down the hall and give me 35 minutes to see if I can #makemathmeaningful for you.
Let me know what you think and if you want to learn more about how we can teach division (or any other topic) more conceptually.