Q&A #1492

Dividing 5 digits by 2 digits

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 27, 1999 at 20:30:42
Subject: Re: Dividing 5 digits by 2 digits

Is the student having trouble dividing smaller amounts? Is it just the sheer size of the numbers, the number of steps, and the magnitude of the tedium that is a burden, or is the student having difficulty with division as a whole? I think dividing numbers of that size using pencil and paper is really tedious work. If the student has demonstrated an understanding of division already, I am not sure it is necessary to continue with larger and larger numbers. At what point do you stop? 3 digits into 8? 4 digits into 12? Instead, I would like to see a student able to make a reasonable estimate of such a problem, close enough to be usable, but using a claculator to do the actual arithmetic. Why? Because having a reasonable idea of the quotient for such a problem shows some depth of understanding. If you must have a student demonstrate proficiency in this arithmetic skill, I think you need to first find out if the studnet can perform the algorithm for 1 digit divisors, and if not, remediate there first. Then make sure the student is able to estimate the answer using multiples of ten and ten thousand, and then proceed to the algorithm for two digit into five digit division. -Gail, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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