# Flexibility and adaptability: partial-quotients algorithm

How do we teach flexibility, adaptability, and multiple paths to success? How do we teach collaboration and taking the path of another?

Last Friday, I had an opportunity to teach my school’s 5th graders.  The lesson was on long division and the partial-quotients algorithm.  I took a 3-pronged approach. At the end of the lesson, I wanted these young learners to be able to say

• I can take organized notes that will be useful when I study.
• I can divide using more than one method.
• I can show connections between the traditional algorithm and the partial-quotients algorithm.

I know that exceptional math students can show their understanding more than one way.  Most of these young learners prefer one method over the other.  I asked them to work in their bright spot strength first and then challenge themselves to work the same problem with the other algorithm.

I know that working with more than one method is a struggle for many learners.  Once I’ve found success, why would I try another method?  Sigh…why do some resist trying new things?

In Algebra I, we want learners to use the point-slope form of a line, the slope-intercept form of a line, and the standard form of a line.  We meet quite a bit of resistance to any method other than the slope-intercept form of a line.

What if we work on flexibility and adaptability ? How might we challenge ourselves to embed this expectation? It is not enough to find an answer. How many ways can I show what I know? What if I listen to a different point of view and try another path?