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Multiplying and Dividing by 10
by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

What is the best example or way to introduce the concept of multiplying by 10's, 100's, and 1000's?

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What is the best example or way to introduce the concept of multiplying by 10's, 100's, and 1000's. I am a new teacher and want to make sure my students see the pattern and understand. Can you give me any advice?


Seeing the pattern is so important. I am glad you are going that route. What I do when I want my students to see the pattern, or relationship, is to structure an activity that will give them a chance to collect a lot of data that will demonstrate the pattern. Then I let them "notice" it... sometimes with my gentle nudging, of course.

In this case, I would have them suggest numbers they could multiply by 10, 100, or 1000, and then try it out with a calculator or by hand. Don't tell them there is a shortcut, just let them do the math and collect the products in a chart of some sort. You could even just write all the products on the board, haphazardly, and let them notice that some have one zero, some two, and some three (be sure that the other factor is a non-multiple of ten at first). Let them try to figure out why that is happening... this zero at the end phenomenon. Their conjectures about what is causing the end zeroes will help you know what questions to ask, getting them to explain what they are thinking will help, too.

Then it is a simple problem to form a generalization for the situation. "What happens when we multiply by a multiple of ten is..." Again, I would let THEM be the ones to verbalize the generalization. You are there just to see if it is true, to clarify any mis-comprehension, and to help refine the language.

If you haven't ever experienced the power of discovery learning, you are in for a real treat. :-)

P.S. A wonderful extension is to wonder aloud (and thus, encourage the students to, also) about what happens if the multiple of ten is something like 20, or 200, or 2000 or ...

-Gail, for the T2T service

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