Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Visit Place Value With Software

In a previous post I discussed using manipulatives to help students construct a physical understanding of place value. Today I came across a free site on a publisher's website that demonstrates the concept better to parents who may want to try this. You can use the website or still use this concept with physical manipulatives but this gives you a visual representation of what I was discussing in the previous article.

I want to give full credit to the website and publisher Harcourt Publishing. I encourage you to check out their free resources.

Harcourt E Lab Understanding 1,000

The first picture shows the place value chart blank. When making my own I do draw lines.

I start with having the children build to ten to work in the ones column. Using this software you may want to choose problems that help you to reach ten first. (Just a note about the pictures, if you want to get a better look, click on the picture.) Those of you using blocks following this column process works just as well with physical manipulatives as it does on the computer.

Now you move to explaining what happens when you reach ten and all the blocks can no longer remain in the one's column. I suggest not having a problem that stops at ten. It is easier to start by leaving some amount in the one's column.

This program demonstrates that there are too many blocks in the ones column and asks the child to select regrouping. There is a benefit to using actual blocks in the beginning for many children to make the connection. However, this is the best method I have until I dig out my manipulatives and start taking digital photos to demonstrate the process.

The group of ten is now moved into the ten’s column and the one remains in the one’s column. I actually prefer the method of moving ten ones into the ten’s column, not substituting a different symbol for the ten’s and hundred’s as it decreases the connection for the kids. However, this is not my program. When using manipulatives, you can take your stack of ten connected cubes or Lego’s and just move the whole group into the ten’s column. There is no need for a new ten’s symbol.

This now moves us into the hundred’s column. This level was sometimes challenging with this software. I was having trouble getting the software to leave no values in the ten's column after regrouping if there were 0 tens. It worked sometimes and it failed sometimes. This was one area where having more control over your environment is useful. I chose a problem to demonstrate where I avoided the problem.

I did need to regroup more than once while experimenting with problems. If doing this myself, I am not sure I would use different symbols for different place value groups. It is one of the reasons I do not tend to use the traditional place value blocks that come with many math kits. They often do not accomplish what they are marketed to do. That was just the way I was trained and my experience from working with students. Do what works best for your child.

This software is free and available for your use.

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