Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why Math? Looking at Base Ten Place Value with a Systems Lens

We started today's lesson talking about the marriage between math and medicine. That was to provide some rationale for the importance of learning the early math skills we're focused on. Students understood the relationship and were interested in the related story.

Then we thought about the categories that belong to systems think including the parts, structure, function, purpose, and environmental affects.

We then used a systems' lens to begin to study the Base Ten Place Value System also referred to as the Base Ten Numeral System, Base Ten System, and Base Ten Number System.

We discussed the purpose with the question, Why would someone choose to spend their time inventing this system? Students had great ideas about this including communication, common understanding, making life better and easier, and more.

Then we looked at a model of its structure--on paper it looks a bit like a sports field. After that we started looking at the parts beginning with the decimal point which could be known as "The Separator" if it were a super hero since it separates whole numbers from parts or decimal numbers or fractions. We talked about the 10 digits that make up all the numbers in the Base-Ten System, numbers that go to infinity "large in value" and infinity "small in value." We'll watch the famous Eames Power of Ten video to make that more understandable tomorrow.

After that we began inserting powers numbers, words, exponents and expanded form to demonstrate the value of numbers from the ones place to 100,000's place. Tomorrow we'll complete the model by labeling up to the billion's place for the whole numbers and down to the thousandths place for decimal numbers.

Then we'll begin looking at the patterns that exist within the system. I'll have students work with each other to discuss what they notice and then we'll share.

It's a deep introduction to the the base ten system, one that will be followed by the study of how to write numbers in number name and expanded forms, rounding and its rules, and the "behavior" of the base ten system as we move up and down in value. We'll likely weave in the study of the metric system here too since it's directly related.

It's a lot of fun to reveal math concepts, knowledge, and skill with and for students--they're incredibly bright and curious especially when you match math with their lives, interests, and questions.