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Sunday, August 25, 2013

To the Left, To the Left, Everything's Ten Times in the Place to the Left

Here's a little Beyonce to get you thinking about 4.NBT.A.1:

To the left, to the left
Everything's ten times in the place to the left

This standard asks fourth graders to "recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right." Its fifth grade counterpart (5.NBT.A.1) takes it one step farther by asking students to understand that a digit represents "1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left."

With that said, how do we teach it? Last year I talked about it - - - over and over and over. My students could repeat it, they could write it, and they said they understood it, but did they really? This year I decided to employ constructivism. Each child received a set of manipulatives like this:

After cutting out the number strip, whole number pieces, and zero pieces, they were ready to explore. I gave them self-guided sheets like this:

Some students were able to work through the process on their own, but most needed help. Next year I'll change the process and provide an example of how to move the pieces before asking them to work independently. I do, however, want them to arrive at the answer to the final question on their own. My hope is that each child will think, "Aha! The value of a number is always ten times greater than the value of the digit to its right!" Then it's time for me to emphasize the concept - - - over and over and over.

You don't need anything fancy to do this activity in your own classroom. Student-created place value strips and number pieces will work just fine. Instead of a worksheet, you can work together, asking students to move their non-zero digit to make the number 10, 100, or 1000 times bigger. 

If you would like everything ready-made, this activity is available in my Teachers pay Teachers store as a part of Multi-Digit Whole Numbers - Differentiated, which includes student-guided activities (like the one shared today), worksheets, a review, pre- and post-assessments, related activities, and an "I Have, Who Has?" game for 4.NBT.A.1, 4.NBT.A.2, and 4.NBT.A.3.

Let's look at a few more resources. Howard County Public School System has gathered lesson plans, activities, and more on this site. Scroll down to Number of the Day Organizers to grab an awesome free resource. And check out their place value problems (which directly address 4.NBT.A.1). 

Now that we've covered reading, writing, comparing, rounding, and conceptualizing large numbers, we need a grand finale. Wouldn't it be fun to ask students to continue the lyrics to Beyonce's song, "IrrePLACEable"? It might start out like this:

To the left
To the left

Mmmm to the left, to the left
Everything's ten times in the place to the left
In the ones place, that's single stuff
Yes, if you move it, baby, it's ten times enough...