As you know, I love math. I have written many blog posts about Guided Math and having success during your math block. I recently wrote a post about how to teach place value in 5th grade. Today, I am going to follow this up with how to teach a few division strategies so all of your students find success. 

Don't go crazy while teaching division

As a student, division was my enemy. I never wanted to do it. I immediately became frustrated as soon as I saw the division symbol. This is unfortunately how quite a bit of students feel as well when they see the division symbol. 

There are so many strategies to tackle division but the main part that students need to understand is what the division symbol is actually doing. Division is a faster way to subtract. It helps the students find the answer in a faster way so that they do not have to continue subtracting constantly.

Division Strategy #1: Relate to multiplication

One division strategy is relate division back to multiplication. If a student struggles with understanding how to divide, refer back to their roots. In this case it’s multiplication. If they are not in 3rd grade (which is where they learn multiplication in our district) then I would definitely recommend allowing the students to use their multiplication chart. The reason why I say this is because the students are not being tested on their multiplication facts. They are being tested on the strategies to complete division problems- not basic math facts.

With that being said, allow students to work in a way that they feel comfortable with. If they are comfortable with multiplying- let them multiply. Let’s say that the question is 1,404 divided by 54. Allow the students to multiply 54 times _____ to find the answer. Using multiplication instead of just division may be a less stressful tactic and students will feel more confident as they grow as mathematicians.

This division strategy is using multiplication to find the answer to a division problem.
Relate Multiplication to Division


Notice on the page that I never crossed anything out? Try to discourage students from crossing things out in math because they may be able to use it later on. I like to place an X above the actual work so that I know what worked and what didn’t work. 

Division Strategy #2: Start with 1 Dividend

When working with division, you want to start small. This is a stepping stone for the students. They will need to master basic 1 digit divisor. Allow students to find success using 1 digit divisors for a day and then move on to two or three digit divisors. 

Division Strategy #3: Partial Quotients

Partial quotients is always a favorite amongst the classrooms. I tend to enjoy this more than other strategies as well. This is probably because had I learned this, I would have been so much more successful in math. Weird how things change as you get older? I know that in order for my students to become successful, I should teach them as many division strategies as I possibly can. 

When you are dividing using partial quotients, you want to make sure that you are writing very neat and clean. Students that struggle with lining up work will need to be able to write neatly- or they can use grid paper to help guide them. 

This division strategy teachers students how to use partial quotients.
Partial Quotients

In the picture above, you can see that I broke it down just by multiplying basic facts like times ten. When teaching this to students, start with basic facts. Don’t go crazy trying to solve it immediately. Break it down! 

Division Strategy #4: Area Model

Area model is very similar to the partial quotients. One of the main differences is that students use a box to find their answers. When working out with area model, you want to make sure that students know whatever is being multiplied will go inside the box. Take a look at the division strategy below. 

This division strategy is using the area model strategy.
Area Model

Do you notice that in the box it is just the multiplication process? I use this method if students are struggling with division and how to tackle it. If students need more support for example, like using a grid- they will absolutely use this strategy. It allows the students to become more in control of their work. 

Division Strategy #5: Standard Division

Remember the good ol’ standard division? In Florida, we don’t teach it until 6th grade. Kind of crazy right? Well, try it. It worked for us, and if the above strategies did not work- try the basic strategies. There is nothing wrong with teaching this strategy especially if the students need something because the original ones you taught don’t work.

Want an outline of division tricks? You can math note templates in my TpT store!

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