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Division and Two-Step Word Problems

June 8, 2022 | Cindy Kuperus

Here are 4 of the math standards that children are working to become proficient in during these last few weeks of school.

3.OA.4 Determine the unknown whole number in a multiplication or division equation relating three whole numbers. For example, determine the unknown number that makes the equation true in each of the equations 8 x ? = 48; 6 x 6 = ?

3.OA6 Understand division as an unknown-factor problem. For example, find 32 divided by 8 by finding the number that makes 32 when multiplied by 8.

3.OA.7 Fluently multiply and divide within 100. At the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

3.OA.8 Solve 2-step word problems using the four operations. Represent using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies.

Each day in math class, students learn a skill or strategy in a group setting.

They also practice independently or with a partner. Here is a sheet with tasks for 2 days’ independent practice with a partner or independently.

All of the standards are addressed in their practice.

Students have cut division flashcards at school , and they are doing the same for homework this week. They are practicing how to write 32 divided by 4 as 4 x ? = 32 – and they are solving the problems in different ways. Most of them know the multiplication fact already, so the division fact is easy to solve, too. Others count by 4s to 32. Some have said something similar to this: “I know 4 x 5 = 20 and 3 more 4s = 12, so it is 8!”

Asked to make a poster showing someone ways to solve 30 divided by 5 = 6, here are two students’ attempts:

Finally, each day, students work on activities on IXL that are directly related to the standards of the day. Most work independently, but a partner may be working nearby!

Here are a few students counting objects arranged in an array to get to the quotient.

Below is a picture of two students solving 2-step problems such as, “Jack rode his bike 12 miles from his house to the mall. He took a shortcut home that was 3 miles shorter. How many miles did he ride in all?”

Pretty sophisticated, right?

These students are working with scrap paper nearby to draw and write as they think.

If you would like to support your child, you could work with him or her on IXL. Start by working on my recommendations for your child, as they are related to our standards. When working on the 2-step word problems, your child should work with paper and pen/pencil nearby to record the steps!


Cindy Kuperus

Teacher, Grades 3&4

Ms. Kuperus attended a small Lutheran grade school and has always been a student in multi-grade classrooms. She became interested in teaching, in fact, when she would assist classmates when the teacher was busy helping others. Her 5th/6th grade teacher, Mrs. Roman, encouraged her to think broadly about the world beyond their small town (population: 500), giving stickers to those who could answer a question from the World News segment from television the night before. She would be thrilled to learn that Ms. Kuperus has taught internationally in Masaya, Nicaragua, and Chengdu,China.

After graduating from Calvin College, Ms. Kuperus taught students in grades two-six for almost 10 years in Kentwood, Michigan. In 1994, Ms. Kuperus sought a teaching position in a school in the Northeast, anywhere but New Jersey. She’s now taught for over 23 years in NEW JERSEY! Two of her former students, Becca Brasser and Sam Martino, are now on staff at MSS.

Ms. Kuperus loves opportunities to travel, interact with the people, and taste the foods of the world. She’s also a person who ‘travels” with the characters in the books she reads!

It’s important to Ms. Kuperus that people’s voices are heard and that their needs for shelter and food are met. To that end, she volunteers for organizations like First Friends and the Sharing Place.

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