Teaching Place Value Essay

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Teaching Place Value Understanding place value is perhaps the most essential skill required in order to comprehend our base ten numeration system. This knowledge is a building block to further mathematical concepts; without it children will have difficulty solving any problems requiring computation of numbers. Therefore, it is crucial that elementary teachers possess both a deep understanding of the concept and an ability to communicate this knowledge to their students, while recognizing and acknowledging any conceptual difficulties. The term “place value” refers to the positional systems used to determine the value of any given symbol or digit. Each symbol may have a different value depending on its position in the numeral and, in a base ten system, powers of ten are used to convey the value of the symbol (Sowder et al. p23). As digits are moved to the left their value increases by a power of ten, and as they move to the right are decreased by a power of ten. The value of the whole numeral is determined by the sum of the value of each individual digit. We expect children to have a solid grasp on this material by the end of second grade, with the ability to “represent numbers using words, pictures … or physical objects such as base ten blocks” (WA State). While the concept of place value may seem simple to an adult who has become intimately familiar with this system throughout their life; a child who is first confronted with this topic has no background to draw upon in their attempt to understand. It is up to teachers to present the concept in multiple ways, in order to reach all students and accommodate a variety of learning styles. Before a teacher can expect to instruct students on place value, they need to be sure that their understanding of the subject is comprehensive enough to expound upon. Learning how to compute in bases other than ten is an effective

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