I had a friend who teaches 5th grade recently reach out and ask how we can help students who struggle with dividing by a 2-digit divisor. I made a quick 9 minute video to help her make the connection between a 1-digit divisor.
While we were going back and forth with our messages it was apparent that her students were not doing the thinking, they were mimicking her work. This is common in classrooms. When we teach with the concept of “I do. We do. You do.” the students are copying what the teacher is doing. That turns into memorizing steps and procedures. Students need to view the math and think about the problem using their prior knowledge, not how the teacher attacks the problem. Allowing time for students to share how they solved the problem is critical. School is a social environment and popular education philosopher Lev Vygotsky was known for Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development. This means our social interactions influence our cognitive growth. When students work together and share their ideas and thoughts with one another, they are able to further build upon their initial thoughts and teach and learn from one another.
As you watch the video below, hopefully you’ll notice the opportunity students have to decompose the dividend of a problem so that it is friendly for that particular student. We want students to have the freedom to thinking about numbers flexibly. I just wanted to walk through a couple more problems to help you and eventually your students truly understand how we can make problems friendly for students.
I also suggested to my friend to pull the students who are really struggling with what division means in general (conceptually) into a small group and work through the basics of division with place value materials. A great game I play with students is called Cookies. It’s adapted from the game Leftovers by Marilyn Burns.
The Cookies game directions and recording sheet are linked below. I’ve also added a video of Kristin from Making Math Make Sense and I to walk you through how to this activity should work. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Cookies to print – I use construction paper cut into 3″x 3″ squares and 2-color counters or Cookie Crisp cereal when I play this game in person. Below is a video by my friend Kristin on how to play with hands-on materials. https://youtu.be/fCobQnWJQc8