EL Support Lesson

Division with Fair-Sharing Language

Encourage your students to describe elements of a division problem using peer supports and an information gap game. Use this lesson on its own or as support to the lesson Multi-Digit Division.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Multi-Digit Division lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Multi-Digit Division lesson plan.

Students will be able to discuss the components of multi-digit division.


Students will be able to explain division problems with correct vocabulary using peer discussions and sentence stems.

(5 minutes)
  • Display a descriptive card from the Info Gap Cards: Describing Division worksheet, such as card Z.
  • Read the card to the students and ask them to use their whiteboards to recreate the expression it is describing. Students should come to the understanding that they are missing information (i.e., number they are subtracting from) and they cannot borrow or trade from a number they do not know.
  • Ask students to list the information they need to know to help them figure out the expression (e.g., the number they are subtracting from and the total number they are subtracting).
  • Gather background information from students about their vocabulary knowledge by asking them what they can assume about the number that is being subtracted based on the description in card Z. For example, we know the digit in the tens place is larger in the number that is being subtracted than the subtracted number because trading is necessary, etc.
  • Tell students that today they will play an info gap game to help them practice the fair-sharing language they need to use when discussing division problems.
(12 minutes)
  • Review the vocabulary with students, and especially make sure to define fair sharing and info gap game. Then, define fair-sharing language. Ask students to connect it to the "fair sharing" definition ("similar," "different," "related to each other," etc.).
  • Place the vocabulary cards for the remaining definitions (i.e., borrow, trade, share, sets) underneath the fair-share language definition and tell students that these are examples of some of the language they can use when borrowing within place values.
  • Write the division expression 648 ÷ 9 on the board and the following sentences to match each step you take to solve it using the standard division algorithm (exclude the information in the parentheses):
    1. I want to share 6 hundreds, 4 tens, and 8 ones between 9 sets. I don't have enough hundreds to share with 9 sets, so I'll have to trade.
    2. I'll trade 6 hundreds for 60 tens. That gives me a total of 64 tens that I can share in 9 sets. I can give each set 7 tens (7 x 9 = 63) and that leaves me with 1 ten remaining. One ten is not enough to share with 9 sets.
    3. So, I'll trade 1 ten for 10 ones and join those with the 8 ones (10 + 8 = 18) to make 18 ones. I can give 2 ones to each set (2 x 9 = 18) and that leaves me with 0 left over to share.
    4. The total amount in each set is 72. (I shared 7 tens and 2 ones with each group.)
  • Read the sentences aloud with the students and then redo the division problem. Use the same language already shown on the board. (Tip: you can use base ten block or symbols, such as boxes, lines, and dots, to visually represent the division problem and trading.)
  • Assign groups and give each group base ten blocks to model the steps in the division problem using the standard algorithm. Read the steps and have them complete them while saying the steps with you.
  • Emphasize that this is what they are doing when they use the standard division algorithm and using the actual fair-sharing language can help them keep track of the sharing and not get lost in the steps.
  • Write another division example and ask students to solve it using the base ten blocks and the fair-sharing language.
  • Model how to solve the same problem using the fair-sharing language. Have students copy your teacher markings from the board onto their whiteboards and repeat your sentences as you say them.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students they will now look for this same language and match it with the corresponding expression.
  • Distribute the ask and answer questions cards from the Information Gap Questioning Cards worksheet and read through the language stems with the students. Have students choral read the sentence stems with you once, and then create complete sentences with the sentence stems.
  • Display the same card from the introduction and practice asking questions of a volunteer student and have the volunteer answer the questions. Alternate asking and answering a question with the student until you have decided on what information the matching card must contain.
  • Display the card options and ask students to help you match the description card with the correct visual based on the criteria you have already chosen. Once they choose the match, confirm they are a match by looking at them side-by-side and checking the details one more time.
  • Explain to students this is the same process they will follow to find the card that matches their card. Explain that they cannot show the card to each other and must only share information that answers a question someone asks.
  • Check students' comprehension by choosing non-volunteers to ask and answer questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Conduct an information gap activity where each student has their own card and they cannot disclose any information on their card unless someone asks for the information specifically. Distribute the pre-cut Info Gap Cards: Describing Division worksheet and begin the activity:
    1. Have students search for the person who has the card that shares the same information they have on their own card.
    2. Instruct them to alternate asking and answering questions using the language from the worksheet Information Gap Questioning Cards. ("I have a description. I don't have a visual that shows the trade my card describes. Do you have a visual that shows there is a trade of one hundred for 10 tens?")
    3. Remind students that once they know the pairs are not a match, they should move to another person.
  • Listen to student conversations and write down some of their exemplary language that you can read aloud after students find their partners.
  • Ask students to share their thoughts about the activity and give feedback about the challenges and successes they had throughout the activity (e.g., "It was easy to..." or "It was difficult to..." or "Something that can make this more challenging is...").


  • Allow students to use their home language (L1) or their new language (L2) in all discussions. Provide bilingual reference materials to assist in their vocabulary word acquisition.
  • Encourage them to use the vocabulary cards and terms in their conversations and writing. Allow them to draw pictures to support their understanding of the terms.
  • Allow students to give their answers orally for the Review and Closing activity.


  • Pair students with mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
  • Have them say some of their questions aloud and write the language they use on the board for student reference.
  • Choose them to be student models for the questioning with you before the info gap game.
  • Challenge students to complete the division problems shown in the visuals from the info gap game and explain their answer for one of the cards to the class.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to compete a 3-2-1 activity. Distribute a blank sheet of paper and label it with the numbers 1–3. Have students answer the following:
    • Three steps they took to find their info gap partner,
    • Two of the easiest things about using the fair-sharing language (e.g., trade, borrow, share, sets, etc.),
    • One question they have about using the fair-sharing language.
(3 minutes)
  • Review the students' 3-2-1 activity answers. Allow students to share them with partners and then choose volunteers to share their ideas aloud.
  • Ask for volunteers to share their question and have students help you answer it. Use the remaining questions to help guide future classes.
  • Remind students that while it's okay to remember the steps for the standard algorithm, it's even more important to be able to describe why they are doing each step.

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