Can you tell I spend a LOT of time in the summer reading about math and teaching? I read new books, but I also cycle back through old favorites. It’s kind of funny, actually. I’ll read a couple chapters of one book, and the next day pick up another book and read a couple chapters out of that one. Very random.
I read a great little section out of Van de Walle’s book today (the 3-5 version this time), and I found something I wanted to share. Start with this quote:
“There is undoubtedly some value in limited practice of division facts. However, mastery of multiplication facts and connections between multiplication and division are the key elements of division fact mastery. Word problems continue to be a key vehicle to create this connection.”
Personally, I never solve a division problem using division. If I am solving 56 ÷ 8, I always think of it as “what times 8 equals 56″ (BTW, I do the same for subtraction–it’s addition to me). Van de Walle suggested a great little activity called How Close Can You Get? to help children practice what he calls “near facts.” That is, divisions that don’t come out evenly. As he points out, this type of situation is much more common in real-life than divisions that do come out evenly. When presenting this activity, be sure to model the thinking process you go through to determine the solution. For example, with a near fact like 38 ÷ 5, you’d cycle through the 5s facts, adjusting as you go: 5 times 6 (too low), 5 times 7 (close), 5 times 8 (too much). So the solution would be 5 x 7 with 3 left over. This would make a great class warm-up or workstation activity. I made a little recording sheet patterned off the Van de Walle activity that you can use. There are a couple of versions with numbers filled in (one easier and one harder), and there is also a blank version that you can use to write in your own numbers. Or the kiddos can make up problems for classmates to solve. Click on the picture to grab yours.