This week my students and I embarked on the journey of learning the concept of division. When I began the teaching the division concept I did not realize that it would involve teaching students to interpret the meaning of division before they actually divide. This idea may sound strange but it made sense to me when I was reviewing 2 warm up problems with my students. The first problem was 18 divided by 3 and the second problem was find the missing number 36 divided by blank equals 6. I was amazed when my students struggled with the first problem because I had done activities with them that required them to divide a total into different groups. Well, what I didn’t realize is that before the students could answer these two problems proficiently they have to interpret the meaning of the two problems. One of the 3rd grade standards for division is to determine the unknown number in a multiplication and division equation. This one standard can prove to be very challenging for students and teachers because if the students do not understand that each number in the division equation has a meaning then solving these kinds of problems will become a rote process that relies solely on the students memory. When a student encounters these two types of problems they should first determine which number is missing. If the size is missing in the problem then the students will have to draw the number of groups and then decide how many are in each group. If the the groups are missing then the students will place an equal amount in each group and then skip count to the total. These two problems required two different thought processes and requires the higher order thinking process comparing and contrast. Using a double bubble map, Venn diagram or a T-chart to show the similarities and the differences between the two process will help struggling students see that the two problems are alike but different.
Interpreting the Meaning of Division
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