I had been losing sleep. I had been wracking my brain. I kept coming up with NOTHING.
Even the shower, which is normally where I do my very best brainstorming, was not helping me with this ever perplexing problem.
How in the WORLD am I going to help my students understand division??
Oh, I had tried all the strategies I could think of. I had tried manipulatives, acting it out, actually having the students divide anything I could think of to try to help them “get it”. And they did. For about a minute or until they spotted a double digit divisor and then it was as if the concept of dividing had morphed into a calculus problem. I had a problem. And it was pretty huge. We work a lot with division in fifth grade.
And then….a life line. I hadn’t asked. It just appeared as if out of nowhere and at EXACTLY the right moment. Graham Fletcher came through with this post. What I love about this post is that now I have been introduced to Joe Schwartz and Nicora Placa. Two more awesome educators who share some really awesome ideas, strategies, and experiences aimed at helping elementary students grow into great thinkers, problem solvers, DIVIDERS. I’m pretty sure that isn’t a word, but who cares?? Do you know what they shared? This treasure!!!!
My small groups this week underwent a division intervention. As we went through the lesson, and we’re folding strips of paper, making quotients, and subtracting, inevitably, in EVERY group I heard a collective, “AAAAHHHH!” It was a gasp. The room got a little brighter. They UNDERSTOOD!!! One of my students said, “Oh. So THAT is why you subtract!”
One of my students who has struggled to understand math probably most of her elementary years, was in one of my groups. She diligently went to work. She was very quiet the first day, not sharing much, but always busy. She worked hard. The next day, as we went to groups, I met with those students again. This day was quite different from the previous day. The girl who had struggled, was now the teacher. She took over the group and taught division as if she had been born dividing.
Now THAT is an awesome week! I love it when my kids take over and teach one another! I love it when educators come together and share! So a huge shout of thanks goes to these awesome collaborators. Math really DOES make sense!