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Q&A #19979


Adapting a decimal lesson for struggling students

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Dec 15, 2008 at 12:16:19
Subject: Re: Adapting a decimal lesson for struggling students

Hi, Ena --

Thanks for writing to T2T. Before you teach any operations with decimals,
make sure your students understand the concept of decimals. They need to
understand that decimals are fractional parts of a whole, and that each place
to the right of the decimal is 1/10 of the place to the left of it. 

This can be reinforced with money (pennies, dimes, dollars), which children
at that age usually understand pretty well. They should be able to combine
groups of pennies that can be traded for dimes, and groups of dimes that can
be traded for dollars. While doing this, introduce and have students practice
the decimal notation that identifies different amounts of money. When
teaching the addition and subtraction of decimals, combine and separate
various collections of pennies, dimes and dollars so they understand the
meaning of the operations in relation to the decimals.

Make sure they can order decimals, for example, know that 0.3 is greater in
value than 0.12. Also know that extra zeros to the far right do not change
the value, e.g., 0.6 is the same as 0.60 and 0.600.

Another useful manipulative for decimals is base-10 blocks. The large cube
can represent a unit, the flats can be tenths, the longs can be hundredths, etc.

If you don't have a good supply of these at hand, there is an interactive
applet at 
http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_152_g_3_t_2.html
You can chose which piece represents the unit by changing the decimal places.
Play with the "Next problem" function to get some ideas of how you can use these.

I hope this helps. Please write again if you have more questions.

 -Claire, for the T2T service

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