As I wrote earlier, the
dolts authors that wrote our textbook decided to start the year off with long division.
Not a smart move!
After shuffling lessons around and avoiding it as long as possible, I finally decided to end our first unit with long division. The Common Core Standard states that students must fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm. The good news about that is that it’s the method that I learned as a kid back in the 1980’s, and it’s probably the way most of your students’ parents learned to divide.
This really nice, clear explanation from CoolMath4Kids.com walks students (and maybe teachers who grew up with another algorithm!) through the basics of long division. The color-coded steps make it very easy to follow along.
Even though the Common Core Standards don’t explicitly state that students in grades 4 or 5 need to use the standard algorithm, I am very fortunate to be able to say that most students arrive in 6th grade with a familiarity and an understanding of this traditional algorithm.
And that makes things much, much easier!
However, it’s still necessary to review the steps for long division, since no one sat at home over the summer and practiced, and there are always a few new students who aren’t familiar with this traditional approach.
I actually make my students raise their right hands and repeat some sort of pledge that I make up on the spot. I say that if they promise to follow along with a pencil and a piece of notebook paper, they don’t even have to open their textbooks. This grabs their attention, and then I really hook them with this game, called Snorks, from KidsNumbers.com .
The Snorks website cheers on students as they walk through the steps of long division. Every now and then, there’s an easy mental math division problem, but most of the problems require actual long division. At first, I call on individual students to tell me what to do for each new step, but eventually I let the class call out the steps all together. They really get into it! Who knew long division could actually be exciting?!
For more advanced students, KidsMathTV.com has a Millionaire long division game. There is a timer involved, so the students have to calculate really quickly. Not everyone is going to be able to keep up the first time through, but it’s a fun game to offer students who are looking for a challenge.
So now that my students are engaged, what’s next?
I created this “Text Me” long division homework page, and
my students have done really well with it each year. It’s set up so that students only write in the boxes that I’ve provided, so their work stays neat and organized. The gimmick is that students are trying to find the missing digits in their friend’s phone number, so they can text the friend later. Not only do students need to get the quotients correct, but they also need to provide the correct work, since some of the missing digits are found in the work area beneath the division bracket. You can download the Text Me – Dividing Whole Numbers worksheet right here, as a thank-you for reading my blog!
You can also grab the Text Me worksheet as part of my “Long Division That Doesn’t Stink” bundle. It includes a second teaching/homework sheet for dividing decimals by whole numbers and third sheet for dividing decimals by decimals.
Each sheet includes around 8 problems, with plenty of space for students to show their work, and scaffolding is provided to make sure that students are guided through the entire process.
I’d love to hear what you think! If you have other ways to get your students excited about long division, let me know if the comments.