How will this collection help to address standards?
The NCTM Number and Operations Standard for Pre-K through Grade 2 states that “It is absolutely essential that students develop a solid understanding of the base-ten numeration system and place-value concepts by the end of grade 2. Students need many instructional experiences to develop their understanding of the system, including how numbers are written.” Base ten and place value concepts lie at the core of the knowledge students need as they learn first about the operations and properties of whole numbers, and later of other number systems.
What does research tell us about this topic?
Research indicates that students sometimes have a difficult time understanding our number system. Some of the difficulties they have can be difficult to diagnose, perhaps because of the structure of our language, or because of the many properties of the number system, and later of the decimal system.
A research study from Australia provides information about a Base Ten Game that has enabled students to develop a deeper understanding of place value with whole numbers in lower grades, and later with decimals in the upper levels. The study provides background information about research on the use of “base blocks,” indicating that students do not always connect these materials to other place value representations. The suggestions from this study and the other resources in this collection may encourage you to vary the assessments, so you can better determine what students really understand. You may also decide to use the Base Ten Game to aid students in forming the basic concepts underpinning our number system.
Base blocks and other tools and manipulatives
The use of base blocks (often called “units, longs, flats, and blocks,”) to represent place value is a frequent occurrence in our classrooms. An interactive version of base blocks and a simple interactive abacus are included as useful resources, especially for interactive white boards. Research suggests that base blocks should be just one of several materials used to represent numbers. Simple materials, such as paper clips for units, arranged on paper plates for tens, and into boxes for hundreds, might provide an introduction to the basic concepts. Pictures of objects on which students can circle groups of ten might also be used. Finding ways to help students make the connection between these objects and the underlying properties of the number system are fundamental to building the necessary understanding.
Take a few minutes to review these resources and reflect upon the research. Decide how these resources can help you as you plan activities that help build a deep understanding of place value.