An initiative to help 3rd graders visualize huge numbers turns right into an ambitious job to develop a design of a million.

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The United states is recognized for its culture of accomplishment around math. In Mathematical Mindsets, Jo Boaler discusses the toxicity that this success culture, which she states disincentivizes teacher from making use of open-ended jobs that allow for lot of pathways to plausible solutions—instead lock opt for an ext reliable method for pull close math, typically in the form of workbooks and also worksheets.

In reality, though, mathematics is a literacy, and it’s crucial that it be treated together such. The reductive come teach it just through straightforward call-and-response questions. Math calls for curiosity, inquiry, and, many importantly, play.

In an effort to relocate away native the existing achievement society and towards a way of teaching math that builds theoretical understanding, mine team and also I made decision to embark on one ambitious mathematics project: to construct a scale version of a million.

We pertained to this after among our initial class on location value. The kids seemed to understand just how to visualize two- and three-digit numbers through precision. They can do so because they had actually the tools necessary—base 10 blocks. Yet when it came time to visualize what 10,000, 100,000, and 1 million looked like, they were coming increase short.


Helping kids Visualize Large Numbers

Later that day, i noticed a thousands block on my guided analysis table. Alongside it satellite a handful of aluminum LaCroix cans. I had just held a team meeting in my room, and so naturally there were part sparkling water can be ~ left over. I noticed that four cans happened to be around the same size together the thousands block.

I imagine what it might be like to collect enough cans to make sufficient thousand-size block to make a design of a million. Ns feverishly sent an e-mail to mine team, asking if they assumed this stunner idea to be worth pursuing, and they were every in.

That work the million design was born.

We obtained to occupational right away. The weeks turned right into months, and children lugged in what came to be over 4,000 aluminum cans from home. Note: If you decision to execute this project, make sure to wash the end all the cans—very important if you want to protect against collecting ants in addition to the cans.

Four cans at a time, we developed thousand ~ thousand, i beg your pardon turned into ten thousand after ten thousand, hundred thousand after hundreds thousand, and before us knew it, 3 months had passed and we were ultimately ready to rally our version of a million.

Our college embraces the Singapore layout of mathematics instruction, which involves using math jobs to build theoretical understanding of math skills. Luckily for us, this project offered ample methods for the development of math jobs related straight to the project. They seemed to sprout serendipitously, instantly engaging students as result of their invest in the project. Below are a few of the inquiries we came up with:

If the takes 4 cans to make a thousand, how many will we must make 10,000? 100,000? 1 million? How many thousands room in a million? Our million model right now has _____ cans. How many an ext do we need?

It’s vital to remember the this wasn’t just fun and games—it was directly related come our unit on location value, particularly to standards around identifying, reading, and also writing number to the ten-thousands place. Ours stretch goal to be to have children identifying, reading, and writing number to the millions place. Through the finish of the project, practically every boy in our grade was able to accomplish this large goal, showcasing the inherent scholastic value in engaging children in projects related to math.

Sharing the Learning

In the beforehand spring, virtually six months after the project had begun, it to be our grade’s revolve to host the school assembly. It was the an initial time our school organized a mathematics assembly, and we were all so thrilled the this milestone would certainly be our chance to share ours million model.

We shared the elevator of the project and what wednesday learned, and we check out the publication How lot Is a Million? by David M. Schwartz. The assembly ended with the entire third grade counting together we assembled the design in front of the school.

“Nine-hundred ninety thousand...” the youngsters shouted suspensefully just before including the last ten-thousand block to the model. “One million!” The assembly erupted in applause.

Later that day, a first grader approached me in the hallway.

“Mr. France?” he said, his chestnut eyes smiling in ~ me.

“Hey buddy! what’s up?” ns replied.

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“I expect we gain to do the million model when I obtain to third grade,” he said excitedly. This to be an unforeseen outcome. The task was fun, of course, and also it’s difficult to conflict the academic value. But our project not only engaged the 3rd graders that did it—it sparked excitement around math throughout the whole school.