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Summary of Reference

Sowder, Judith

Place Value as the Key to Teaching Decimal Operations

Bibliographic data:
Sowder, J. (1997). Place value as the key to teaching decimal operations. Teaching Children Mathematics, 448-53, April.

Many students have problems with using numbers with decimal places, especially in rounding them and assigning them an approximate value. Problems typically occur in classes where the introduction to decimal numbers is brief so that sufficient time remains for the more difficult work of learning the algorithms for operating on decimal numbers.

The naming of decimal numbers needs special attention. The place value name for 0.642 is six hundred and forty two thousandths. This may be compared with the form 642 which is simply said as ‘six hundred and forty two’ not 642 ones. This concept causes especial confusion for many children.

The paper discusses practical ways of familiarising children with the concepts of base-ten materials and of fractions of a quantity, moving after that to teaching decimals.