Monday, December 3, 2012

Interpreting Remainders....oh my!

Well, I don't know about your students, but every year interpreting remainders is like pulling teeth! It is such a struggle for those students that cannot understand word problems or that have no conceptual understanding of what a division word problem is all about.That being said I have been pulling out the big guns this year to try to get them to understand and it is working!

Here are a few things that I have been doing:

Problem A Day

I have been posting a problem a day for about a week where the students have to consider the remainder. I post it on a piece of chart paper and the students solve the problem, while supporting their answer with LOVE (Labels, Our Thinking, Visuals, Equations). After all the students have had a good amount of time to solve the problem, we discuss the answer and how we interpreted the remainder. Here is an example from a student's math journal. Sorry it is not very clear!

 Anchor Chart

Then once the students had some experience with word problems and context that required them to ignore, round up, or report the remainder as a decimal/fraction, they helped me create this anchor chart. This has really helped my students who continued to struggle with interpreting the remainder correctly.

Fun Printable
Next up, the students completed a fun Christmas themed printable. I worked with a small group that was still struggling while the students completed this. This worksheet was a hit! It is engaging, but aligned directly when my focus! You can get the printable and 12 other Christmas themed Division printables from my Common Core Christmas Division Pack!

Math Center
The key to knowing how to interpret the remainder requires the students to conceptually understand what the problem is asking them to do and what is unknown. This has been the biggest struggle so far. The students can easily identify that the group size is unknown, but they have had little experience with number of groups unknown. So I created this fun (and also Christmas themed) math center to allow them to practice this key skill. Check it out! It is also available in my Common Core Christmas Division Pack! The students had to read the word problems and sort them based on what was unknown (Group Size or Number of Groups). Then they solved each problem.

Flippable Fun! (and an assessment of sorts)
Last Friday, I assessed the students by giving them a few word problems. However, I wanted something more rigorous. So, today the students worked on a flippable of sorts. The students had three flips, one flip for Ignore It, one for Round It, and one for Report it as a Decimal or Fraction.

The students had to create a word problem for each type of situation. The strugglers were able to use the chart that we had created for an extra scaffold. The students also had to solve the problem, showing the LOVE (of course!)

Check out the inside of some of them!

We are still working on them, but some of them are really impressing me! I hope this post has given you some helpful tips for teaching students to interpret those pesky remainders!


  1. Love the Flippable the kids created! How awesome! :)

  2. I am working on this skill right now! These are great strategies! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jennifer, I can totally relate. This concept is a struggle to teach and you've got some great ideas and activities here. I'm your newest follower on here. Check out mine if you get a chance, it's still very new...

  4. It's rough to get kids to understand interpreting remainders! It looks like you've got some great activities and strategies to help them!

    The Science Penguin

  5. Remainders are so difficult. Thanks for the post!



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