Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Comparing and Ordering Whole Numbers

Yesterday we learned about how to compare and order larger numbers. Before students can really be successful at this skill, they need to have a fairly solid understanding of place value. That is why we teach place value first, before this concept.

The biggest idea that students have to remember about comparing and ordering numbers, and about place value in general, is that as we go further left in a number, the value becomes larger. For example, I would rather have 1 thousand dollars than 9 tens (or 90) dollars. Even though the digit is larger, the value of the 1 is more because it is in the thousands column (it is worth one thousand).

When comparing and ordering numbers, I encourage students to "stack" the numbers on top of each other, paying close attention to keeping the columns lined up. This helps them to clearly see which digit in each column is larger. See the attached presentation for an example. In class, we did an activity in which students worked in pairs to order the areas of a number of countries from greatest to least. We used place value charts to assist us with the activity. If your child needs to use a place value chart (or the "houses" idea like we did in this post) then that is fine. Students are encouraged to use whatever tools they can to help them understand concepts.

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