February 19, 2008

How?

How do you explain basic division to a 10-year old? For example, 24 divided into 8 groups? Or even how to divide 10 by 2? I wish it was easier. The girl I have been tutoring for the last 5 months is incredibly bright, but I feel like today we hit a wall. Apparently, the way it is taught here in the United States is by actually drawing 24 objects (snowflakes, apples, etc.) and then drawing circles, forming 8 groups. But what's the logic behind it?! Is it by guessing and continuous attempts is that the child needs to figure out that 24 divided by 8 is 3?
I tried to think back to the days when I was learning division, and honestly I remember just memorizing the tables - "simple" and easy. But all these years later it did stick with me.
So, here it is. I tried to explain the rules of division, and reverse multiplication to a 10-year-old. Some of it she got, some of it was still a challenge. But she promised to ask her teacher for further explanation, and I believe she'll do it.

Off to dancing.

Olga said...

Remember the McDonald's commercial: one for me, one for you, two for me, two for you? Maybe you could try that. Let's say you have 24 apples and 8 people. Draw 8 baskets and then pretend to move the apples from the pile into the baskets one by one (cross out the apples from the pile and draw them into the baskets). Eventually, there will be zero apples in the initial pile and each basket will have 3 apples. Thus, 24 divided by 8 is 3.

Priscilla said...

I think visualizing helps, but if you want to speed through your tests...you kind of need to memorize it. Maybe it's just the way I learned, but if you get the multiplication part memorized then it's easier to back into the numbers that can be divided into a certain number. Thank goodness I'm not a teacher.

The Poor Dispositionist said...

Actually, there is a debate in a nearby Virginia school district on the relative value of using traditional techniques in mathematics (tables, memorization, etc..) versus these newer techniques (Investigations in Number, Data, and Space). So you're not alone. For me the big question is does the new method bring more people into mathematics then would otherwise be the case? Check out the article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/18/AR2008021802244.html