“Long-division puzzles” can help middle-grade-level students become actual problem solvers, but what should solution look like?

This is my first post. I hope it’s acceptable.

EDIT Since there are people to whom such notation is foreign, I will point out that the problem represents KRRAEE / KMS, where PEI is the quotient and KH is the remainder. KHHR represents P times KMS and ALH is KRRA minus KHHR; the E is “brought down” per division algorithm. The next two hunks are defined similarly.)

Because I want math students to become problem solvers in a manner than does not rely heavily on the “template-based” problem solutions that permeate math education at the middle-grade level, I would be interested in seeing written, easily-followed, mathematically- and logically-valid derivations of the solution to such division puzzles as the one below, such presentation being one that a reasonably competent “Algebra I” student could both follow and produce. (Maybe I just have a bad case of OCD, but I daily find joy in solving these puzzles, taking care to produce a presentation that just such a student could both follow and produce. Part of the joy stems from the belief that a summer project devoted to such problems could greatly enhance students’ problem-solving abilities.)

enter image description here

Spoiler alert: Answer follows. But since the requirement is that the solution be an actual derivation, go ahead and look. It’s hard enough without it.

enter image description here

Having given this a lot of thought, I think you might find the tableau below useful in organizing thoughts. It amounts to each non-vanishing “subtraction column” with blanks on either side of possible loaning and borrowing.

enter image description here

Before I post a solution I’ve arrived at, here is an outline that guides solution, whether writing it or following it.

enter image description here

The 3-deep-dashes symbol can be read “is congruent to (modulo 10)” [i.e, it says that the units digit of the multiplication on its left-hand side is found on its right-hand side.]

I find it hard to believe that, with long division’s future uncertain, this problem type will be easily swallowed; but the inherent mathematics and logic may turn the tide of opinion.

This is a particularly-easy problem of its type, chosen mainly because modular arithmetic, accessible to the target student audience, makes solution easier.

Solutions Collecting From Web of "“Long-division puzzles” can help middle-grade-level students become actual problem solvers, but what should solution look like?"

It’s not hard to write out a solution in more readable form. Here’s a sketch, giving the key steps.

The little $HHL$ column shows that $L$ is either $0$ or $9$. Suppose that $L=9$. The $RHL$ column then shows that $R=H-1$. However, this means that $KRRA<KHHR$, which is impossible, so $L=0$, and $R=H+1$. From the $RHA$ column we see that $A=1$, and it follows from the $ARH$ column and the fact that $R=H+1$ that $H=5$ and $R=6$. We now have this:

           PEI  
    KMS)K661EE  
        K556  
        ----  
         105E  
          M5K  
         ----  
          K01E  
          1PMM  
          ----  
            K5

It’s clear from the last subtraction that $K=2$:

           PEI  
    2MS)2661EE  
        2556  
        ----  
         105E  
          M52  
         ----  
          201E  
          1PMM  
          ----  
            25

The middle subtraction shows that $E=1+2=3$:

           P3I  
    2MS)266133  
        2556  
        ----  
         1053  
          M52  
         ----  
          2013  
          1PMM  
          ----  
            25

The last subtraction now shows that $M=8$ and hence that $P=9$, and $9\cdot 28S=2556$ shows that $S=4$. Finally, we must have $284\cdot I=1988$, so $I=7$:

           937  
    284)266133  
        2556  
        ----  
         1053  
          852  
         ----  
          2013  
          1988  
          ----  
            25

Here’s the solution I arrived at one day recently. It’s in a format that I found, after much experimentation, to be one that MAYBE the target audience could both follow and use as a guide to writing their own solutions.

enter image description here

If the requirement were to write a truly-mathematical-looking derivation (ordered, with many words, from first equation down the page to last), NOBODY (including ME!) would be interested.

I truly believe that students at ANY level would become better problem solvers if given these (drum roll) PUZZLES–math FUN; math at its best? At least for young’uns. (And me!)

The use of color and the a), b), … guide could make this not only easier but even MORE fun–AND ACCESSIBLE.

Here’s another problem, significantly harder than the previous, but still accessible to target audience. The statement of the problem (i.e., northwest corner only) comes from a PennyDell puzzle magazine:

enter image description here