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Subject Area: Algebra

Grade Level: 9-12

Unit Title: Modular Arithmetic
Lesson Title: Intro to Modular Arithmetic and Equivalences Classes

This lesson is designed as one continuous lesson for teaching over multiple days. When
beginning a new class period, review may be necessary. This lesson should not exceed
two days on a block schedule.


- Common Core
o High School Number Theory
Choose and interpret unit consistently in formulas
o Use number theory arguments to justify relationships involving whole
- Students should be able to recognize and use modular arithmetic
- Students should be able to explain the importance of the remainder in modular
- Students should be able to describe why numbers are related to one another in an
equivalence class

Materials/Resources Needed:
- Six large boxes labeled 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and (n-1)
- A table tent labeled with a set of ellipsis
- A table or grouping of desks to place the above supplies on in the front of the
- Pieces of paper with problems written on them for the students, two for each
student. Print half of problems on one color paper and the other half on a
different colored piece of paper.

Anticipatory Set
o How can you explain division?
o What are the parts to a division problem?
o We will do a division problem as a class to remind everyone of the aspects of
o How can we find a remainder without going through an entire long division
problem? Can you do it in your head?
o Practice a few easy division problems to get the remainders
We will discuss how remainders are important in modular arithmetic. We will
also discuss how different numbers can provide the same remainders when divided by the
same divisor.

The students will need to know that an equivalence class is a grouping of numbers
that have equivalent remainders when divided by a unique number. The class will
discover this through finding several numbers that have the same remainder and
discussing a relationship between these numbers.

We, as a class, will discover that there are a finite number of equivalence classes for each
number in modular arithmetic. (i.e: 0,1,2,3,, n-1 when n is the number being

We will be working through a few division problems together quickly just to show that
we can find the remainder for many divisors through long division.

Then, we will be quickly review more simple problems looking for the remainder.
- 4 divided by 2 gives a remainder of 0
- 6 divided by 4 gives a remainder of 2
- 15 divided by 9 gives a remainder of 6
- 21 divided by 10 gives a remainder of 1

Check for Understanding
- Ask the students what they notice about the remainders
(Desired realization: The remainders are less than the number we divide by)
o Follow up: What do you notice about the size of the remainder in relation
to the divisor?
- Have a discussion with the class to find out what the students find interesting,
difficult, easy
- Ask students what questions they have for me

Guided Practice
As a reminder to the students, you can put the below problem with labels on the board.
Have the students help you fill in the correct terms for each part. Students should be able
to work with partners or in small groups for this part.


Ask the students, Is it possible to get the same remainder more than once, with different
division problems?

When do we see this occur?

Can you get the same remainder when dividing different dividends by the same

What are some examples?

Have the class consider that if we want the divisor to be 3 and the remainder to be 2, what
the possible dividend options are.

5 divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2
8 divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2
11 divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2
14 divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2
17 divided by 3 gives a remainder of 2

Ask the students what they notice about these dividends in relation to each other.
(Anticipated response: the difference between the dividends is 3)

Would this work for all cases? Pick a new divisor, a, and a new remainder, b, and try to
find a group of dividends that have a difference of a between consecutive numbers.

Each combination of remainder and divisor creates a set of numbers, dividends, which
we can categorize by calling them equivalence classes.

We write equivalence classes in terms of the remainders of a division problem.

We have been doing division using a long division method but there is another way of
thinking about the arithmetic called modular arithmetic where we write the problem in
the following way:

a bmod n , Where a is the dividend, b is the remainder and n is the divisor. We can
then say

n(ab) .

Once you have found the remainder of a given problem you can write the equivalence
class in the following terms:

b | |= a,b, ncZ a bmod n { }

For example lets look back to the remainder of two with divisor of 3

2 | |= acZ a 2mod 3 { }= ...2,5,8,11,14,17,... { }

Have students find negative possibilities.

Independent Practice
Game with equivalence classes using modular notation
Modular basketball

Put all of the boxes and the table tent on a desk or table at the front of the room.

| |
is similar to a box. This box is the equivalence class that holds all of the dividends in
it for a particular divisor and is labeled with the remainder.

We have found that the remainders could be as follows:

| |

| |

| |
, ,

n 1
| |
where n is the divisor

For the game, only use boxes with equivalence classes of 0, 1, 2, and 3. We will be using
mod 4.

Each student will be given two modular arithmetic problems on separate sheets of paper.
The students job is to solve their problem and throw their problem into the
corresponding equivalence class box. The two different colors of paper designate two
different teams that will be competing for the most correct answers.

After all students have solved all of their given problems, go through each box with the
class and check all of the answers. If a problem is in the incorrect box, have the students
decide together which box it belongs in.


Score the game by counting the correct number of answers using the two different colors
of paper representing the two different times. This will encourage students to obtain the
correct answer, as they will be relied on by their teammates. Students may work in their
teams if a member is stuck on a problem. Do not use names of students on the problems
so that the game is a group effort not an individual competition.

Independent Practice

Have students perform a quick write describing the process of modular arithmetic.