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Is Ladder Division Causing Your Students to Struggle? Try This!

When students struggle with ladder division, many times it is because they learned a procedure and haven’t made sense of the procedure for themselves.  In this case students haven’t had enough experiences with division problems that are near friendly numbers so that they can reason about the numbers. Try giving students some problems that are near friendly numbers first if you notice that they aren’t using number sense to form partial quotients.  For example, if students continue to subtract only small groups of ten and aren’t able to estimate a larger number for partial quotients, then try giving students numbers that are easier with which to estimate, like in the picture below.  In the above picture, I started with some students in intervention who started solving the problem using groups of ten.  2499 divided by 25 is obviously close to 2500.  Why not start with 100 groups and reason about taking away one group so that the quotient isn’t too large.  When students look at how they could estimate to solve this problem, they have a lightbulb moment.  Give them other examples like this to get students in the habit of solving problems with reasoning and number sense as opposed to a procedure.