Okay, I think it was on here that I read that 4th graders aren't ready for long division--and teaching alternative methods: partial quotients, chunk dividing,etc. is best for them. I am doing partial quotients and chunk dividing next week, but I have literally spent 2 weeks teaching long division and I am about to bash my head into a wall. I've tried everything: breaking things waaaaaayyyy down, manipulatives/hands on/relevant scenarios, songs, dances, modeling after modeling after modeling, and lots and lots of practice. My kids NORMALLY catch on to things fairly quickly--I have EC who mastered regrouping and alternative methods of multiplication with grades 80+. But I feel like long division has been a nightmare for us---I feel like only my AIG and high performing kids have mastered long division. They all know the steps, they know the dance, they can walk me through the problem---but once it gets in their face they always stumble somewhere--forget to bring something down, assume a remainder too soon, forget to put the number up above the "house" so their quotient is missing a digit, get overwhelmed by the size of the dividend and it's like their brain shuts down and they can't remember something obvious--like subtract or multiply to come down. Mainly this is isolated for 4 digit dividends--they can do 2 and 3 digit fairly well. I'm about to have a stroke. I know it's time to move on, but I can't stand it when I have kids who can't master it. What is the typical experience of learning/teaching long division to 4th graders??? Is this NORMAL? Or am I doing something terribly terribly wrong??

Honestly? About 1/2 of my high school students can't do long division. They'll get by in life without it.

Really?? This is my first year teaching math so I'm not intending to sound like a dunce. I guess because I go on autopilot with it (and always have) it just seems like it'd be easy to pick up.

I'm not saying it's not important to learn, just saying that many students still haven't mastered it. I'm not going to leave my students without knowing it. Long division problems are sometimes our warm up problems and I spent a day on it. I want them to learn it. It's going to be difficult to master polynomial long division if my students can't do long division.

Actually, I think it IS a necessary skill! I was one of those struggling 4th graders in your class. I was a straight A student, until I hit a major wall called division (of any kind). The persistence, patience, and caring of my math teacher (who stayed after school to tutor me and other strugglers), I was able to work through it ('scuse the pun). I never was and never have been a "math" person, but my own experiences, at home AND in MULTIPLE REAL WORLD jobs (which I held while my daughter was growing up, prior to my teaching career) lead me to believe that you are doing EVERYTHING right. If your district pacing guide says to move on, do so, but revisit long division daily (maybe for 10-15 minutes).

We will definitely revisit it (we do with all concepts in warmups) throughout the year. I'm giving a quiz tomorrow on it...needless to say I'm dreading grading this one...normally I'm excited to see quizzes because I know my kids "got it" but not this time

Our curriculum department insists that 4th and 5th should not be spending time on long division (we are Common Core), but I know that most do. Your time should be spent much more on fractions.

I agree with this. Some of my HS kids don't know how to add, subtract, multiply, or divide fractions either. I can tell you that the fractions come up much more than the long division. Again, not that long division is not important, but realistically they won't all master/retain it in 4th grade.

We are common core too. And that is something that has been referenced at workshops too. I guess I'm hung up on the standard of solving up to 4 digit division problems with multiple methods. We are moving onto fractions after Christmas. We test on division next week, and then I will spend the last two weeks before break focusing on multi-step word problems with mixed operations... I want their brains to have a little break before we dive in head first into fractions. --Which to me seems much, much less intuitive than division...

Division of polynomials is going to be brutal for kids who haven't learned how to divide numbers. And I firmly believe that knowing how to divide one number by another is a life skill. And that the kids of today are no less intellectually gifted than generations of other kids who were somehow able to master this particular skill. I don't know whether it has to be taught in 4th grade, but they had better know it before they enter my high school classroom. I think that we as a society have a tendency to drop anything that's hard. And that it doesn't serve us well. If everyone is getting frustrated, then move on... for a while. You reach a point of dimishing returns with some topics when they simply are not going to accomplish anything else. Move on and let the ideas simmer for a few days. But come back to it after Thanksgiving, just for a "do now" or whatever you choose to call it. And one more problem a day or so later. And the next week, once or twice. And again in January. Some kids just need that "simmer time" to get the ideas into their heads. If they can do 2 and 3 digit problems, then they CAN do this. They just need the confidence and the practice in doing so. There are a number of acronyms/mnenomic devices out there to help kids remember the order of the steps-- have you tried them? (I had to google them, my high school kids don't use them) 1. Divide, Multiply, Subtract, bring down, remainder (or some people say repeat instead of remainder) (Dad), (mom), (sister), (brother), (Rover) 2. Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Compare, Remainder Does McDonald's Sell Cheeseburgers Raw? (though I would probably substitute "really" for "raw" )

We did a divide, multiply, subtract, and bring down dance---they all know the pattern--even the kids who missed 90% of the days on long division because they were sick/out/whatever. So they've got the pattern---as far as knowing what comes next. Okay here were the results Core 1: 21 students in attendance 100 100 100 100 98 97 95 95 93 ---- 78 78 77 ---- 75 71 --- 63 60 40 (Student misses 1-2 days per week and is constantly distracted--lots of problems at home) 4 EC kids I had pulled to have EC teacher work with them. I just checked for completion. These kids scored below 5th percentile on their EOGs, and I have watch them grow a lot, I think they will be best suited for chunk dividing. Core 2: 18 kids in attendance 100 100 97 96 96 95 95 95 --- 88 85 --- 82 81 79 ---- 76 75 70 ---- 60 Any opinions? I normally have many more Bs and mid-range grades. Seems with this, I either had As or Ds/Fs. Like kids who got it, and kids who clearly didn't. The ds and fs were given a lot of partial credit points because they always get to the 2 or 3rd digit and then forget!

So approximately 10% of your students have failed this topic-- more than you would like, but a do-able number. You can return to it and help them sharpen their skills. And, of that 10%, only one child really fell far short of passing. The results are much better than I imagined they would be from your description. Your 2nd class had a median of 86.5, your first class had a median of 78-- but had 4 100's. Keep plugging away.

I find this conversation to be very interesting. My child brought up tonight that it bothers him that he was never taught long division. We sat down and I gave him a problem to solve. We started with 346 divided by 12 just to get the brain thinking. I understand that that may not be considered long division , but I wanted to start with something manageable just to get him thinking through the concept of division. We talked about what he thought he knew that could help him. He mentioned division is the opposite of multiplication, and he is good at multiplying. He also mentioned he knew expanded form so he could use that somehow. Surprisingly, he brought up he could envision a picture in his head to understand what he was trying to do. He also stated he knew multiplication was really repeated addition. So, he solved the problem while I solved it in the traditional manner in which we were taught many years ago. He solved the problem correctly two different ways. Neither way was the way I was taught. I tried to show him how I was taught, and he thought I was crazy. He said his ways were much more fun! (Yes, that made me so happy to hear!!!) We continued on to harder problems, and he did fine. So, my thoughts are that maybe you need to let the children explore the concept of division a little more. Maybe ask them what they know that they could use to solve the problem. My concern is when you give them set steps to follow they are not required to explore numbers or do their own thinking. I know allowing them to do this can be time consuming, but I think they would have far greater ownership of the process if they figure things out on their own.

Loveslab, I LOVE the conversation you had with your son! That is where I want all my kiddos. May I ask how old your son is?

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this already but do you have a checklist? Place a checklist that looks like the following: Divide Multiply Subtract Bring Down Repeat! Place the checklist in a sheet protector and have them use a marker to check off each section after they complete it. Use this everyday and every chance you get! Eventually, they won't need this scaffold anymore and they will get faster. Also, show them that dividing is the opposite of multiplication. Show them that when you multiply the numbers outside of the house- you get the dividend. This year I read the story of the Three Little Pigs to help introduce long division. I told my class to think of the three little pigs as the numbers inside the house and the big bad wolf is trying to get inside. The only problem with this though... is i told my class the little pigs are eaten in the end because they are divided. A little gruesome but somehow it helped some of my lower kids see the whole picture a bit better.

He is 13. Math has always been a strong point for him, but I think he had lost his passion for it. Actually, I think in the last year or two he has lost his passion for school and learning. He is one of those kids that gets referred for the gifted and talented program, but his IQ tests don't support the referrals, therefore he doesn't qualify. I am okay with it, but I worry things are easy for him, and he doesn't know what it means to actually have to work at something. Tonight we were having a discussion about his lack of passion and why he feels apathetic about school. He gets good grades, but he doesn't care if he gets good grades or not. Of course, this truly bothers me as an educator. Out of nowhere he brought up the issue about long division. Our conversation ended with how he multiplies numbers. For example, when he multiplies something like 36 x 18, he multiplies 36 and 12. Then he takes half of that sum and adds it to the original sum. He can do this in his head without paper and pencil which just blows my mind. I asked him why he multiplied 36 and 12 first because I noticed he kept multiplying by 12 first when solving other problems. He said he just likes multiplying by 12's the best. Again, this post is interesting to me because we are changing the way we teach math at my school. We no longer tell the students how to solve problems. In other words, we no longer do direct instruction in math. ( There are a couple of exceptions,like telling time, which you have to give some direct instruction to get them started.) We simply give them a problem and let them figure it out. We then spend time discussing their different strategies and when they are most effective. It is amazing to watch them when we get out of their way and let them think on their own.

Loveslabs, I wish I could teach you son. I love teaching kids who have the ability to play with the numbers and work them out. So, just for fun, I have a challenge for him: In geometry, there's a formula called Heron's Formula-- it's for finding the area of a triangle if you're given the 3 sides. It results in answers like the square root of ( 12 * 6 * 8 * 20). Lots of my kids choose to multiply 12 by 6 by 8 by 20, then simplify the result. They LOVE it when I show them my shortcut. What's the shortcut?