The Value of a Digit

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Students will be able to explain the value of a digit by which place it is in a number.

Big Idea

There is something new about place value.


With this lesson you will introduce or remind students about basic place value vocabulary, create a place value table to be used in the future as a support to students who need it. 

You will need a board for you to write on and your students will need their math journals. 


10 minutes

There are great discussions going on right now on how to teach vocabulary.  From what I've seen teaching vocabulary during the lesson or in context is best and has the most meaning for students.  Well I didn't do that this time because students have been learning about these words for many years and it is more of a refresher.  I do reinforce using the words throughout the unit on Place Value.  

I wrote the three vocabulary words on the board and had my students copy them in their math journals. Because of the way I have my room set up - a large are open in the center - my students move around to be able to see the board.

Counting Numbers:  The numbers used to count things.  Zero is not usually included.

Whole Numbers: any number 0,1,2,3 to infinity. This includes all counting numbers.

Digits are whole numbers 0-9 only.  Digits have different values depending on their position or place.   

Later on in the year you will be teaching about classifying two-dimensional figures into categorizes based on their properties (5.G.B.3 and 4). Starting now showing your students how one item can fit into more than one category will be beneficial!

After your students have the words and definitions copied down start to ask questions.

What is 9?  a counting number, a whole number and a digit

What is 57?  a counting number and a whole number, not a digit

If you have the digit 5 and multiply it by 10 what would it be? 

Then turn it around and have your students give out numbers and other students tell what categories it fits into.  By having your students using the words and giving examples they will move the words into long term memory and those who still need examples will have them.

Next you will be having your students create a Place Value Chart.

Constructing the Table

20 minutes

I think it is important to have my students construct tables and not have me giving them a copy of a table or chart.  I want this skill to become second nature to them so they are able to organize and display data easily and the sneaky part is when I get to measurement my students have been using a ruler since the start of school. 

I typically have a copy of the chart already done for my reference, with measurements written lightly in pencil. I show it first and say this is what our final copy will look like and then a blank piece of paper to draw the chart along with my students.  I put the blank paper under my document camera and walk them through step by step - drawing the outside first, then breaking the chart down into the periods and then the hundreds, tens and ones.  I emphasize drawing the commas big because each one has a name and it is a very important name that tells you what it is, what it's value is. 

After the chart is drawn (Modeling with mathematics or MP4).  write in some lower numbers and model for your students how to read them.  They read every number inside the periods the same but when they get to the comma they say the name of the comma as billions, millions or thousands.  I've had many kids come to me still struggling with reading numbers incorrectly - which leads to writing them incorrectly in word and number form.  Forget trying to throw decimals in there.   By creating this chart, leaving it in their Math Journals to use and telling the students the commas have a name, nearly every student has left my room being able to read the numbers and thus spelling the numbers correctly. 

Make a game of this where the students partner up, write a large number and then have their partner read it.  If you wanted each student who read it correctly gets a point. They could also gain points for using the vocabulary words. Walk around the room checking on your students work to assess how they are doing.  I keep a lot of anecdotal records on my class roster sheets.  I've included a blank grade sheet for you. 


Student Reflection

5 minutes

When students reflect on their learning they more than double their retention rate.  Have time for reflection in every lesson. 

In this lesson I had my students reflect by first telling me what were the three vocabulary words we used and give an example of how they were used.

The next questions you want to ask is about specific content. 

What did you learn about place value that was different than before?

You will get students who say they already know everything. 

Well good!  Then you can help  teach others and I hope you did during the lesson.  Thank you for giving your classmates time to share what they learned:) 

What is important about a digits place? 

It tells the value or what it is worth.

 I also go into reflection on behavior because I know if I am not spending time with behavior management.

What did you do to help someone else?

What did someone do to help you.  Give them an appreciation.