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Subject:   RE: strategy for division
Author: Mathman
Date: Oct 3 2006
On Nov  4 2003, tony wrote:
> i am trying to teach my son a strategy that he can use to solve a
> division problems,because he does very good in different
> fractions,and it is surprising for me how he doesnt get it.And
> honestly i dont get it sometimes to

Don't be too surprised.  People grossly understimate the difficulty when they do
it so easily themselves.  They forget how long it took to learn it, and that
taught usually without any real understanding of the algorithm involved.  Early
in my computer career, when teaching myself BASIC programming, I set myself the
task of doing a division to any given number of decimal places, and decided then
to use string manipulations.  As a math teacher, I had also not seen how
involved the process really is.  We subconsciously, from a well-developed
number-sense from the practice we've had, first try the division of the first
digit, then two, then however many it takes to get a whole division, then
proceed with the next step... .  We go so quickly through this process that it
seems to be a single step, but is really broken down into smaller steps.  We do
it as naturally as we read.  I found that out when developing an algorithm to do
that process.  It wouldnt' work until I did break it down into much smaller
steps.  As adults, we capture entire phrases at a glance, and their significance
and their invovlement with other phrases in the same sentence.  So we read
ideas, not just sentences or single words.  The beginner is just learning to
form letters then whole words, and to connect them to something they can
visualise.  So it is with much math.  It's a matter of time and practice.  So,
practice, practice, practice, and don't mind if your son says that's dull and
boring and it needs to be exciting.  It works.  Also, develop the problems in
difficulty from very easy to a bit more difficult [more digits], and do it very
slowly, and again with enough practice to be able to do it any time, and don't
forget to reward success.  Don't go to more digits until there is complete
success with fewer.  Even do questions with him, then ask him to repeat the same
question.  He's learning a "method" if nothing else.

There may be worksheets on line, but you can make your own with a spreadsheet or
a high-level program like VB if you can do that sort of thing.


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