Comparing and Ordering Whole Numbers

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Students will be able to apply their knowledge of place value to compare and order numbers.

Big Idea

Place value can be used to compare and order numbers.


5 minutes

In this video (Video - Comparing and Ordering Numbers), I introduce the lesson for today.

In today's lesson, the students compare and order whole numbers.  This aligns with 4.NBT.A2 because the students compare two multi-digit numbers based on meanings of the digits in each place, using >, =, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons.

I begin by reminding the students that they have used place value to read numbers.  I say, "Today, you will learn to compare and order numbers according to place value."  I ask,"When might you need to compare two numbers?" I allow the students to think about the question.  I let 2 or 3 students respond.  Student responses:  1) To see who has the most money, 2) When we are buying candy at the store, and 3) when we want to know who has read the most pages in a book.

Direct Instruction

10 minutes

I use this site to teach the skill of comparing and ordering numbers:

This site allows for interaction during the lesson.  Students enjoy when they have instructional video lessons.  What I like about this site is that it gives the students a chance to practice the skill as it teaches the lesson.  

In this particular lesson, the students must figure out if Mia is improving on her speed in the track meets.  Mia has the following times for her track meets:  25 seconds, 27 seconds, 22 seconds, 23 seconds, and 24 seconds.

This video points out to the students that all of the numbers have a 2 in the tens place.  Therefore, we must use the ones place. It goes on to explain to the students that we must use the ones place to compare the numbers.

I stop the video and ask the students to tell me which numbers are in the ones place.  The students call out 5, 7, 2, 3, and 4.  I ask, "Which number is the largest?"  The students tell me 7.

I continue on with the video so that the students can see how the numbers are put in order from greatest to least, with 27 being the greatest and 22 being the least.  (I let the students know that the numbers can also be put in order from the smallest to the largest.) The students can see from ordering the numbers that Mia's time has improved since the first track meet.  However, her best time was at track meet 3.  Mia will have to continue improving to beat her best time of 22 seconds.  

Upon completion of the video lesson, the students understand that numbers can be put in order from least to greatest or greatest to least.  The students should also know that you compare numbers depending on their place value (4.NBT.A2).


Group Activity

30 minutes

The students work in pairs.  This gives the students the opportunity to interact with others and hear the reasoning of their classmates.  Working in pairs makes it easier for both students to be heard and lend their voice to the conversation.  Each pair is made up of a high level student and a medium or low level student.  The pairs are organized this way because it gives a balance so that all students have an opportunity to take advantage of their resources.  



Before the lesson:  I print out the Numbers on card stock paper, then cut them out.  It makes it easier for me to keep up the pieces when they are printed on different color sheets (Cut out numbers).  These sets of numbers can be used for many fun activities. I make enough sets of cards for each of the groups.  I put the students in pairs.  I give each pair a Comparing and ordering numbers activity sheet and a set of numbers (MP5).

The students form a 3-digit numbers by pulling numbers from the bag.  Each student makes a 3-digit number and writes the number on the activity sheet.  Then they must compare their 3-digit numbers by looking at place value (MP7).  The students start in the hundreds place to compare their numbers.  The students write >, <, or =.  The students repeat pulling 3 digit numbers until they have finished all rows on the activity sheet.  After comparing the numbers, the students must answer the 2 questions (MP6) at the bottom of the activity sheet.

1.  Tim said that he has more money than David.  Tim has $578 dollars in his savings account.  David has $587.  Is Tim correct?  Why or why not?  Write a number sentence comparing the two numbers. 

 2.  Last year 8,976 people attended the fair.  This year, 8,679 people attended the fair.  Did more people attend the fair this year than last year?  How do you know?  

This is a sample of Student Work - Comparing and Ordering Numbers.jpg.

Early Finishers:  Any students completing the assignment early can go to the computer and practice the skill at the following site:

Independent Activity

10 minutes

Group work is important, but independent practice is just as important.  As a teacher, I want to make sure that all of my students master the skill.  Therefore, I give independent assignments after the group work.

On the Smart board, I display the directions for the assignment.  Directions:  Write a paragraph and explain how you would compare 4,592 to 4,590.

The students should take out a piece of paper to complete the assignment.  I collect the papers as an evaluation.  I identify any students who may need remediation.