Breakdown Learning into Small Steps

By Maggie Dail, M.A. Learning Specialist

Breaking down learning objectives into small steps may help avoid overwhelming students. LONG DIVISION is notorious for escalating frustration because there are numerous steps. Assigning names to each of the steps keeps the students moving from one step to another. There are a number of programs that use this idea. For example one such method uses the Long Division Family to keep the student moving from one step to the next:

Dad reminds you to Divide

Mom reminds you to Multiply

Sister reminds you to Subtract

Brother reminds you to Bring down

A sample script would go something like this:

Dad says, “Divide 2 into 11. How many times does 2 go into 1?”

You say, “0 times.” So you write zero on the top of 1.

Mom says, “Multiply 0 times 2. How much is 0 x 2?”

You say, “0” So you write 0 below the 1.

Sister says, “Subtract. What is 1 take away 0?”

You say, “1” So you write 1 under the subtraction line.

Brother says, “Bring down. Is there a number to bring down?”

You say, “Yes, 8” So you bring down the 8.

You continue this process until the answer to “Is there a number to bring down?” is “No.” At that point you are done with the problem. Once your child understands the process, the script can be simplified so that very little needs to be said.

Share with us how you would use this idea with long division or another concept with multiple steps.