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Learning to Use Division (Division Unit Rationale)

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Learning to Use Division (Division Unit Rationale)

Division Unit Rationale
Division is a profound topic that is of great importance in a student’s learning career. To some, it is one that is learned with great ease and without obstacles to surpass along the way, while for others it is the topic that makes them cringe and never want to look at a single math problem ever again. As a future teacher, this is exactly why I chose to do a unit on division. Looking back over my elementary school days, I vividly remember my third grade teacher introducing division to the class and playing memorization-type speed drill games to help us learn our new division facts. I can still see the stress-filled faces and sense the class’ unhappiness because for most of the class the concept of division was very difficult to grasp due to it being so abstract. Because it can be difficult, my fellow classmates and I at times were easily frustrated and began to hate math.

My classmates’ hardships along with my own strongly influenced my decision to choose division for my math unit, because division is a process that everyone uses on a day-to-day basis. Whether from splitting items proportionately to making sure to have enough transportation available for special trips, division is a common, but very important process that all must be familiar with to survive in today’s society. It is because of this that I have made a valiant effort to relate the division process to many day-to-day experiences in hopes of making it a little easier to grasp. I felt this was an excellent topic to bring to life, in hopes of making math fun and exciting for all students.

The development of this unit was extremely time-consuming because I tried to think of everyday experiences and real-life occurrences to use to teach the students the different division concepts. I based my unit off of the second volume of the third grade Harcourt Math Teacher’s Edition, where I used many of their teaching procedures and worksheets for expanded learning. I truly tried to span off of their activities by adding my own little twists to them in hopes of making them more unique and my own. Personally, I feel that students need to be involved in hands-on activities, as well as be manipulating objects to help them learn math concepts. Throughout my lessons and especially in my anticipatory sets, I used enlarged animal crackers, cookies, green circles, and even stamps to make the math problems come to life and be easier to visualize and understand. In a real classroom setting I would use real teacher’s names that share the building with my class, so that the students realize that they need to split the cookies and animal crackers evenly for the teachers that they admire in their school.

In my last lesson where I am teaching how to divide by the numbers one and zero, I implemented the four rules from the Harcourt textbook entitled “Moo…ve Over” (Harcourt 262), where cow stalls and cows were illustrating the rules of division with one and zero. I loved the textbooks illustrations and creativeness, but still felt that the children needed to physically act out each rule to gain a strong understanding. I accomplished this by using chairs instead of cow stalls and the children instead of cows. Throughout the unit I tried to constantly have the students identify the divisor, dividend, and quotient of each problem, because even to this day I still have to stop and think about which number is which in a division problem. Simply knowing that I have to stop and think about what number is the divisor sent of blaring sirens that this was a topic that needed to be stressed and taught well. I wanted to be sure my students knew and could identify all three of these without hesitating.

I learned many valuable lessons while constructing this third grade math unit. My first realization was that all students require developmentally appropriate attention to learn and call for multiple teaching strategies. My hope in providing more individualized attention was to allow for solving problems and conducting activities with partners while I traveled around the room to assist students who were in need of more instruction. I also realized the necessity for consistency in the classroom and made an effort to teaching in a procedure that involved an anticipatory set, a well-developed procedure with many activities, and a closure activity to sum up the day’s lesson. I felt that all three of these main parts were important, but made sure to take the time to spend five minutes at the end of the lesson to make sure that the students grasped the concepts that I wanted them to learn that day. To me, closure is one of the most important parts of a lesson that is easily overlooked and forgotten.

My key goal for my unit was to make the material “real” so that my students weren’t just constantly looking at division problem after division problem. I wanted them to understand the process of dividing, so that they understood what division really meant and how it related to the other math processes that had been previously taught in class. The development of this division unit has been a rewarding experience for me and has better prepared me for teaching the abstract topic of division to young students. I’m happy to say that I feel more confident in myself and my teaching abilities and look forward to implementing my unit on division in the classroom!

Frank D'Angelo, who submitted these articles, writes: [This] is an excellent unit submitted by a student in my Elementary Mathematics Methods Course.

Lesson by Frank D'Angelo

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