Q&A #118

Helping students understand decimals

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 23, 1998 at 15:06:36
Subject: Helping students understand decimals

One thing that has helped my fourth graders is continually referring back to 
the idea that decimals and mixed numerals (or fractions) name the same amount.  
For example, 1 25/100 is the same thing as 1.25  .  Of course, that can get 
tricky when you are thinking about 1 1/4, can't it?  

We also color in models of decimals using grids that are 10 x 10. Each grid is 
worth one whole. Students can begin to visualize the amounts, and to relate the 
shaded region to a fraction amount they are familiar with.  

Using money as a model is also a good way to help students gain a mental 
picture of the amount they are working with.  Make the one dollar bill worth 
one whole.  Then the dimes will be tenths, and the pennies will be hundredths.

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