How Much IS a Million? Gaining confidence and fluency in reading numbers to one million.

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Students will be able to read and write multi-digit numbers up to one million.

Big Idea

Imagining a million of something is a tough thing to do! Reading numbers up to one million is tough too, but becomes easier as students are introduced to the concept by a wonderful movie/book as they gain strength to master the standard.

The Hook

10 minutes

  How much is a million? What does it look like? I opened up my lesson with this question to personalize the tone and make it real for them. What does a million look like? Even in my own mind, I have a hard time really fathoming a million. I think of stars. I wondered what they would come up with.

*I asked the to shut their eyes for a moment and I asked them to try to imagine a million of their favorite toys...or a million people...a million frogs....etc. 

I gave them a few moments and then continued with these questions:  What does a million feel like? Is it crowded? Is it full? Is it enough? What comes in millions? Do we ever see millions and don't know it??? 

To pull them back in I asked these questions: When does a number become something we have a hard time imagining? Can you imagine 30,000? How about 300,000? What comes in 300,000?

I told them that I had a special movie that would help them with their thinking about a million.

How Much Is a Million?

This delightful video version of David Schwarz's  book will get your kids thinking about how much is a million ... and beyond. It will connect small familiar things. I also keep the book available for them to read for silent reading time. The back of the book contains explanations on how they arrived at their calculations.

The goal of showing this movie is to warm them up to the idea of mastering larger numbers than they mastered in third grade, and setting a tone that is light and ready for learning.

 Moving on: When the movie was done, we discussed opinions and thoughts. We ooed and ahhed over the fishbowl idea and talked about each concept.  I told them that like the students of Marvelissimo, they would learn to read and write very large numbers...but not over one million. I told them that they would be working on CCSS 4.NBT.A.2 that requires them to be able to fluently read numbers up to 1 million. I wrote on the whiteboard my paraphrased version: Read numbers fluently up to one million to help remind them of their learning goal.








The Core Lesson

20 minutes

Lesson:  I used this video resource to teach today because it is a really great way to teach the whole class together about how to read multi-digit numbers! This lesson goes above one million, but teaching above the level of the standard in this medium seems to work very well to address a class of mixed levels.

*I like to ensure attentive listening by inviting my students sit on the floor in front of the Smart Board with their iPads or math journal to take notes. The notes during this lesson should be a personal choice of what they think is important, but I always guide them if they are having trouble with a concept, or if I see a need of an important point to be written down. I asked them to jot down things they "never knew before."  (It is fun afterward to have them  share by starting their sentence with "I never knew that...) For example," I never knew that units and ones were the same thing!"

Teaching with the Video: While the Learnzillion lesson was running, I stopped it in relevant places to reinforce concepts of the placement and value of the numerals, and then defined the patterns. In order to get them to see the repeated patterns of the periods, I guided them to understand that the first word in each new period, is the same word of the that period. For example: Ones column is first, and it is the ones period, thousands period is first in  the thousands period, etc. I noticed that she doesn't point that important point out in the lesson.  I like teaching like this because it can always be replayed, stopped and replayed again until they get it.

As the clip progressed,  I  stopped the video and have students read the number on the core lesson aloud. I cupped my hands around each period as students read the number emphasizing with my voice that "hundred" is repeated over and over. I asked if they saw a pattern to try to guide them into thinking about number patterns. I planned that if they didn't see it, I would guide them along because it helps them see that we read the three digit number in the thousands period, as if it were a hundreds place value number and then say thousands to note its actual place value. I find that covering all the other digits after what we are reading helps them see this more easily and read it more easily. i.e in 346,456; cup your hands around the 346 and say three hundred forty six, point to the comma and say "thousands" and then four hundred fifty-six to finish.

Informally assess:  I divided my class in half. While one half listened to the other read the number aloud, I coached them along to be accurate. The other half was asked if they heard the number read correctly. This helps students recognize numbers through an auditory and language experience. It allows them to critique their classmates and also become attuned to hearing errors or accuracy. (MP7)

Thumbs up: After each number was read, we assessed ourselves through the "thumbs up." The question was: Thumbs up if you think you read each number accurately. Then: Thumbs up if you think you need more practice. This way,I could see if I needed to continue by practicing more number reading at the moment or if they were ready to move on.

Guide by Questioning:  I continued by guiding  the lesson along by posing these questions.

Do you see any repeating patterns in the way numbers are written? Can anyone explain them? One student mentioned that the commas occur after three digits. I asked: Do you notice and can you explain a pattern about the way the number is read? Another student mentioned that she sees that we read it like it was a hundreds place number before we say the thousands. She asked if we do that for millions too?

 I guided students with answering this question: What are the rules to reading numbers? We talked about not saying "and", putting a hyphen in and spelling the words correctly. We also talked about saying the period name before the comma. I wrote these rules on the whiteboard for them to copy in their math notebooks.

Practice together: Using the guided practice in the lesson, I explained that we needed to only master numbers up to one million, but we will try the number that is in the ten millions on the board together.

Work together: I wrote the number in word form below the standard form on the Smart Board while they wrote in their journals to practice. I like to start by reviewing what rules we need to remember: spelling, "no ands", comma placement. I coached students to explain "why" for each of those teaching points. I keep these rules displayed on the white board, so they can refer to them as they work throughout the lessons on place value.When they were all done copying I had them read the number aloud together. I listened very carefully to hear mistakes.We continued this through the guided practice, assessing progress. They were catching on well.

Modeling Appreciation of Learning: I was sure to praise students at this point for their accomplishments and told them how much I appreciated them going above what was expected by the standard because they read a number above one million. I had them stick their hands out and pat themselves on the back and then pat each other on the back and say "good job." ( If you use this, remember to be careful of those who are sensitive about touch.) They love it!





Guiding them to Gain Confidence...Onward Toward Mastery!

20 minutes

Independent Practice: 5-7 minutes

I knew it was time to see if students could read and write multi-digit numbers and were starting to master the standard independently because of the feedback I got when they used their thumbs.

Independent practice looked like this:

1. I wrote three random numbers on the board using 6,5,and 4 digits. I made sure I  included hyphenated numbers and zeros. This gave students a variety of choice for later and a good practice selection.

2. Students copied these in their notebooks and wrote them in word form.

3. Using the strategies learned from the lesson, they practiced reading their numbers three times or more aloud to themselves. I encouraged them to look at the things they needed to remember that I had listed on the white board earlier.

 After they had finished this independent practice, I had them move into partner work.

Partner Read: Supporting each other as a learner. 10-12 min

1.Students partnered up with a buddy of choice. I let them go to someone they were comfortable reading with in reading class.

2.Students worked to check each other's work for spelling and accurate wording. I roamed the classroom and supported and monitored the discussions, making sure they were on task and checking if they needed support.

3. As students practiced reading the numbers aloud with one another they were required to agree on how the number should be read.

4.Then, both students chose one number to share that they thought they had mastered well.

I think giving them choice levels the playing field for all students and helps them master the skill. It also creates a comfortable learning experience lowering the intimidation of reading aloud in front of everyone.

Stop and Share: I stopped everyone and had them join me in a circle around the classroom.

Partners volunteered to read their chosen number aloud simultaneously. This way students feel supported as they read in front of everyone.

*I kept it light, quick and fun! I told them that we were going to support our learning through appreciations or encouraging words to keep them from feeling intimidated.

Showing Appreciations: After they read the number correctly, the whole class showed appreciations by clapping, and I taught them little ""praise ditties" (included below the narrative). I went through them once and then let the partners choose what they liked.

When they weren't correct in reading their number, I coached to support them as they read until they mastered it. The ones that needed a bit more practice were excused to find a corner to go over it again. Then we tried again for mastery. That worked well and kept things moving. This is a wonderful way for me to assess progress while they are practicing.

Closing: When we were all done, we came together in a circle and gave a general "round of applause." I spoke to them about looking for large numbers on signs, in reading and anywhere in the world they could find them. I told them to practice reading every large number they see and take time to do it every day. I encouraged them to become aware of the numbers around them and told them we would have more lessons to help them practice.

*They are always surprised by how much fun this is, and it keeps the energy going! Here is what I used today:

Elvis Appreciation: Stand and move hips while pretending to strum a guitar....saying " Thank you, thank you, thank you very much" Elvis style.

Fantastic: Make a motion in the air and a sound that sounds like you are squirting a bottle of Fantastic Cleaner. Pretend you are spraying the bottle in the air 4 times and then wipe the air saying "Fan...tasss...stic!"

Roller Coaster: Raise arms slowly from waist making a ticking sound 4 times and then make a roller coaster motion with your arms and say "Who eee!"

Round of Applause: Simply clap while making a circular motion with your arms.

These are fun ways to show appreciation for good work and lightens it up if people stumble and feel embarrassed. 

Differentiation Suggestions:

*High end students may be given higher place value numbers to share. I was sure those students are partnered together to read their numbers.

* Low end or special needs students can use iPad Educreations ap and record their voice reading the number. You can record your voice first and save it so they can listen to it before they record. That way they can record over and over until it is right.You can use Apple TV on the Smart Board if they choose to share with the class. Or, they may just share it with you.