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Topic: long division
Replies: 0

 Joan Reinthaler Posts: 110 Registered: 12/6/04
long division
Posted: Feb 22, 1995 4:37 PM

As a high school teacher who has taught a 5th grade math class for
several years and a 6th grade class for one year - I'll throw in my
2-cents-worth on the division question.
First of all - we are talking about 10-year-olds and
generalizations and theory are not part of their job discription. I
think that kids ought to learn the long division algorithm - for several
reasons. 1) it does translate to work with polynomials. 2) - and this
has been overlooked in most discussions of this topic - it is one of the
first algorithms that we give young kids that requires that they engage
in an extended sequence of different operations. This ability to keep
track of where they are, to organize, to concentrate - etc. are all very
important study skills.
This being said, the spectre of pages of long division problems
clouds this picture, but it needn't. When I taught it, we did a day or
so of practice and then, for the rest of the year we did one a day
(almost every day) - never more than two-digit divisor, but it never was
a big thing. ALSO - it is important to put division in the context of
geometry so that kids can visualize what is going on. I give kids a
rectangle - with the area and one side given - to find the other
dimension, then extend to more complicated figures (circles - give the
area, find the radius, etc) - always one a day - emphasizing area as a
model of multiplication and the process of extracting a linear dimension
from area as division.
Joan Reinthaler
Sidwell Friends School
Washington, DC