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5th Grade Math – Decimal Place Value

Clip 7/29: Day 1 Lesson Part B


As Erika Isomura’s 5th-grade students work in pairs, she spends several minutes with one pair of students who appear to be stuck on the question of how you might divide 3 by 100, into “teeny tiny little pieces.”

Erika comments “I think this would be a good place to draw,” inviting her students to think about the “story of the problem.”

Teacher Commentary

I wanted to see what they [my students] would do. We've talked in stories about having 1 cake and 10 people sharing — what would you do with 1 cake and 4 people sharing, and so forth. But I haven't actually written it as a division problem.

I said, "Think about it, then go back to your desks. Write and draw. We'll address it later. Just what do you think?” I heard them murmuring as they walked away. “I can't do it. It's impossible. You only have 1. There's no way you can pass it out to 10 people.”

I just left it. “Take it away. Go think. Go write. If you have some ideas, draw.” Some students, as they're remembering, went, “Can't you cut stuff up?” I told him, “You go do that.” Most of the rest of the 5th graders thought it was impossible.