Once again I was helping someone with math. This fourth grader was confused by long division. He took the problem 5 divided into 25 and got 1. His reasoning was 5 will not go into 2 so you put a 0 on top. Then you divide 5 into 5 and it goes 1 time. When I tried to explain, his blank look and confused ok??, told me, we needed colors for the problem. I used 5 to start teaching this because I can make a problem that comes out evenly with any large number as long as it ends with 5 or ten. Also many learners can count well by 5's.
I also made a big problem. Remember it is always easy when you know how. I say this several times during the problem. Also, I ask how many times they think I have done this compared to them. I use crayons to begin with because crayons are non threatening to most children. Sometimes color pencils are confusing to children struggling with math. I think because they represent something adults or older children use.
I only write one problem on a piece of 8 by 11 inch paper. I wrote the problem 5 divided into 1 5 6 9 2 5. 5 is written in a green color. 15 is written in a purple color because I do not want him to toss the 1. 6 is written in orange. 9 is written in blue, 2 can be green and 5 can be red. The color of each number does not matter as long as they are different and noticeable. Yellow and other light colors are too hard to see to use.
How many 5 or nickles are in a penny or 1 cent? He smiled and said none. So I had him put a zero above the 1 in a black color. Then I asked him how many nickles were in 15 cents. He knew 3. I had him put a 3 above the 3 in a green color. I asked him if he would throw a 10 dollar bill out the window of his car. He smiled and said no. I told him that is what he was doing if he left the 1 out of 15. Then I had him multiply 3 times 5 and put the answer in green under the 15. Next I had him bring down the 6 with an orange color.
We do this until the end of the problem. Also, you as the teacher only get to do three problems a day with the learner. Usually teaching math with color like this only takes about a week. After 2 or three days, I turn a lined paper on its side so we can keep our numbers in line easier. This child seems to understand. The test will be next week when we do long division again. After 3 weeks, try using a pencil again and see if he can do the problem without color.