Building numbers relies on place value, and it doesn't just mean writing down different digits to build a number. Each digit in a number has a different value. I usually try to relate this to money. If I have a $1 how many pennies does it mean I have? How many dimes? If I have $5 how many dollars do I have? Would you rather have $10 or $1? Each number has a value like money, and we have to know place value to understand numbers.
Together with the students, I start by labeling columns with thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones. I am writing so that it can be seen on the projector, and the students are using whiteboards. I use K, H, T, O beneath each of the words - thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones, so students start seeing the ease of an abbreviation for place value. I ask the students where would I write a single digit number. After reviewing a few single digit numbers on a chart, I increase to tens, hundreds, and finally thousands. Then, I give the students random numbers including all place values.
To extend this idea, I also create models of these numbers using dots and/or base ten block numbers. This step of creating a diagram or using a manipulative to relate the value of the number to place value is critical for students' understanding how the value of a number changes.
Understanding place value is a key foundational skill in the Common Core Standards, and this skill supports success in all operations.
Using dice or cards to create random numbers, the students record the number and create a model of each number on a blank template with the abbreviations for each place value. One of the benefits of using place value with ten sides is that zeros will be an option. I always make sure students have zeros in their numbers. If they are not appearing, I will just tell the entire class to write a zero in the next spot on the number they are currently working on building and modeling.
While the students are working, I use this time to do an observational assessment. I will also pull a small group of students who are struggling with this skill.
To end this lesson, I use partners to challenge each other with numbers they create on their own. As students say different numbers, their partner writes the number and creates a model. The first students is responsible for checking it for accuracy in the standard form and the diagram. I encourage the students to work quickly, and I challenge them to complete the number before I ring a bell signaling a switch. I choose to ring the bell when I see two groups of students finished with their number. Creating a sense of urgency increases the engagement of the students and helps them work more quickly with each number.