Lesson Plan

What's the "Big Idea" of Our Place Value System?

Students build the concept with visual images and academic conversations. Then they apply it with guided practice, non-routine problems, and writing.
Cathy F.
Classroom teacher
Ada Givens Elementary School
Merced, CA
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

CCS NBT 4.1:  Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right. For example, recognize that 700 ÷ 70 = 10 by applying concepts of place value and division.

Grades 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Google Drive
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Here is a Google Slides presentation I use to guide my app flow.  I will reference it in my instructions.

What's the Big Idea of Place Value?  Google Slides Presentation with Links

Slides 6-11:  I start by showing students a website called The Megapenny Project, which shows visual images of how the amount of pennies grow as they increase by powers of ten.  As I go from 1 to 16 to 100 to 1,000 pennies and more, students pair-share to predict how the next amount will look.  For example, when I click on 1,000,000 pennies, I ask students to predict what 10,000,000 pennies will look like. 

The point:  each time you add a 0, you move the 1 over to a place that is 10 times bigger.

2 Direct Instruction and Guided Practice

Student watch a video lesson on Learn Zillion:  Understand relationships between digits and their place value by Ginny Baldwin.  If my students need more support, I use this guided practice video on Learn Zillion:  Guided Instruction--Understand relationships between digits and their place value by Ginny Baldwin. 

Before students watch the video, I tell them to listen carefully to the different explanations and models the teacher uses.  After watching, pairs will teach a lesson to each other on the big idea of our place value system as though teaching a fourth grader who has never learned this before.  

I provide the following materials for students to use as they teach their partner.  Each pair of students needs these place value blocks:  a cube (thousand), a flat (hundred), a long (ten), and a unit.  Each student needs either a paper place value chart or a whiteboard place value chart and whiteboard marker.

I use slides 12-15 to guide the pair-share place value "lessons."  Then, I followup with a class discussion, in which a minimum of four nonvolunteers demonstrate their lessons to help checking for understanding.


3 Independent Practice with Followup Discussion

I use Socrative for independent practice followed by discussion and an exit ticket.  The Graphite review describes this free website as "a simple, dynamic online student response system that can help teachers spark conversation and learning through user-created polls and quizzes."  Socrative is especially useful for class discussions because I can pace the questions asked, and students can immediately see their answers on my teacher screen.  Student names on the answers can be shown or blocked from view to the class, whatever I choose.

This link is a video tutorial on how to use Socrative.

Slide 16 gives students instruction on how to sign in to Socrative.  Then, I use these Socrative Quizes in the following ways:

Independent Practice/Class discussion:  SOC #:13833422

Exit ticket: SOC #: 13832893

4 Formative Assessment

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The day after the Megapenny and LearnZillion lesson, I take time to give a formative assessment.  I use assessment tasks from the Howard County Public Schools Website, which is helpful resource for Common Core Math Standards.  I use slides 17-19 for the lesson.

Because my students need support in learning how to read non-routine problems, I start by doing a think-aloud on this problem:  Think Aloud Place Value Problem from Howard County.  I model how to read a problem to make sense of it, rereading to clarify and studying the chart. I direct students to watch my think-aloud to see how I tackle a non-routine problem.  We list and discuss my strategies for understanding the problem.  Students then work on solving the problem with a partner.

For the formative assessment, I created a Google Doc assignment called The "Big Idea" of Place Value.  This  assignment includes both the links to the Megapenny and LearnZillion websites already viewed and the questions I want to use to assess my students.   

I use Google Classroom to make a copy of this assignment for each student.  This valuable website adds students' names to their copies, placing them in a folder in both their and my Google Drive. Students open the assignment/assessment and complete it independently.