Q&A #7392

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: How do I teach rounding to fourth graders who just don't seem to get it?

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From: Claudia Donally

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2001120421:43:49
Subject: rounding

This has worked for me with some (not all)recalcitrant third graders. 
They stand in a line with card stock.  There are integers greater than
0 on one side, and 0's on all the backsides.  To start with, all the
non-zero integers face out.We do this as kind of a march-in-place
chant.  1st student group: "What are we rounding to?  What are we
rounding to?"  Student numbers: "Hundreds,(Say that's what we're
working on.) hundreds, we're rounding to hundreds."  1st:  "Who wants
to change?"  Child in the hundreds place steps forward.  "I do! I do!"
1st:  "What can you do?"  "Go up one, or stay the same."  1st:  "Who
has the power?  Who gets to say?"  #'s:  The tens! The tens!"  Student
in the tens place steps forward:  "I have the power! I get to say!" 
Teacher:  "Look at him/her.  Can he/she do it?  Is he/she a big,
strong, muscular number?  Or is it just a puny, little, wimpy number?"
(Students say which--hopefully correctly.)  Teacher:  "Well, let's
see."  Student in tens fakes strenuous upward pushing on one in
hundreds.  Other numbers egg him on. (Another student has to be ready
with the next higher number card, just in case.) 1st:  "He/she made
it! What a toughie!"  or "Poor old weak tens."  Whether up or down: 
1st: "But he/she tried so hard he/she wore him/herself down to
nothing."  (Tens, breathing hard, flips number card to zero.) 
Remaining #'s:  "Oh, no! Oh, no!  We're going down, too."  (And they
all flip their cards over, together or, one by one, high to low.)  New
kids replace the numbers, numbers, and maybe value being rounded,
change.  The kids love it, but it's not a quiet exercise.  It takes a
lot of teacher energy, too.  When it works, it's worth it. 	

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