Teaching Decimals

Sunday, September 14, 2014
Many students see a fraction or decimal and immediately go into panic mode due to lack of exposure and unfamiliarity!  Often, students do not have a solid foundation for what a decimal is.   This year, it was difficult for students to express how and why they use decimals in real life.  I made the following anchor chart with the students but it was like pulling teeth!!!! I wasn't sure if we thought of everything, but it was a good start!

Decimals Anchor Chart
Older kids need to understand what the numbers in decimals actually mean and making that connection to the physical models really helps to deepen their understanding of decimals. I know this is the truth, BUT to be honest, I didn't have models to give them. I wish I could say I had base ten blocks or some fancy manipulative but that is just not the case.  UGH! Let me tell you what I do have.  A drawer full of post it notes. (My next post, 101 ways to use post it notes in the classroom, lol, coming soon!) Actually, this worked out PERFECT!!!!  The students started making their own hundredths charts on the post it notes.  
Teaching Decimals Minilesson

Comparing Decimals 5th Grade Math Teaching Decimals
After drawing 2 hundredths charts, the students picked 2 decimals to draw.  They easily compared the decimals since they had a great manipulative right in front of their eyes that they constructed themselves.  They loved it!
Comparing Decimals Minilesson Teaching Decimals
 This lesson also lent itself to adding decimals, so they added them up. Now that I think about it, I should have had them subtract the decimals so show that using the inverse operation can help them to check.  Like I do in this math journal below. 
(click on page to be taken to the product to purchase)
Decimal Math Journal Teaching Decimals
Finally, the students explained what they did in writing.
Writing in Math Decimal Reflections 5th Grade 4th Grade Teaching Decimals
The reason I loved this activity was because I just taught it on a whim after planning a completely different lesson the night before.  When I saw the post it notes in the drawer, it just dawned on me to use them for the lesson. What have you done in your classroom to teach decimals? Do you have any tricks for teaching decimals to the thousandths? 


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