Is it 10x the value or 1/10 the value?

FOCUS TEK: Supporting 4.2A interpret the value of each place-value position as ten times the position to the right and as one-tenth of the value of the place to its left

For some reason, this TEK has always been a tricky one for students to grasp. I think we need to understand that students are still building upon their knowledge of “place value”. Why else is place value something that is continued to be covered all throughout elementary school? It takes time to develop an understanding of our “place value” system!

Let’s start off with an example from a released STAAR question.

In the number shown, one digit is underlined and one digit is circled. Which statement about the circled digit is true?

  • a) Its value is 10 times greater than the value of the underlined digit
  • b) Its value is 1/10 the value of the underlined digit
  • c) Its value is 30 times the value of the underlined digit
  • d) Its value is 1/30 the value of the underlined digit

Suggested Strategy

This is a strategy I have used to help students break down this TEK in a very practical way. I also incorporate the skill of expanded form because …. why not? Trying to reinforce the understanding of place value is never a bad thing 🙂

1.Write the values of each digit that is mentioned (in its order)

Which statement about the circled digit is true?

2.Find the relationship

From 30,000 to 3,000 the number gets smaller, so it’s 1/10 the value

3.Answer: B its value is 1/10 the value of the underlined digit

Example #2

In the number 442,189 what is the relationship between the digit in the hundreds thousands place and the digit in the ten thousands place?

  • a) Its value is 10 times greater than the value
  • b) Its value is 1/10 the value of the underlined digit
  • c) Its value is 40 times the value
  • d) Its value is 1/40 the value

1.Write the value of each digit that is mentioned (in its order)

2.Find the relationship

From 40,000 to 400,000 the number gets larger, so it’s 10x the value

3.Answer: A its value is 10x greater than the value

This is just the strategy I have used to help reinforce this skill. Like I’ve said before, understanding place value takes time and takes a lot of exploration. Let me know if you’ve found different ways to teach this skill of interpreting the values of each place value! I’ve included a link to a Tic Tac Toe activity to help further reinforce this skill happy teaching 🙂


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