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The Remainder Problem

Written division is a difficult and complex calculation for students even when divisions are ‘tidy’ that is there is no remainder. But introduce division that have something left, then a whole new set of learning is required. What should you do? Only give your students numbers that divide nicely? Write “r” & the left over bit or even IGNORE it?Well according to an article on by Middle School Maths Teacher & Coach, José Vilson of we should STOP doing these things, NOW!

Here’s what he has to say… As a math teacher, I often find myself trying to elevate my students’ knowledge to the point where the transition into the next level isn’t as difficult. Rules don’t necessarily change, but they take a new form, and the less friction we can create as they become more mathematically proficient, the better.

3 Ways of Looking at a Remainder

But with remainders, it’s a little different. We can much more easily create a consistent set of understandings by simply eliminating the idea of “remainder x” and replacing it with any one of the three methods below. In fact, I encourage at least two of these.

1. Remainder as a Fraction

2. Remainder as a Decimal

3. Remainder in Modulo Operations

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