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Ted

Welsh
Prof. Keeley and Prof. Leo
Education 302/303
13 November 2016
Topic/Theme Statement

In this unit, we look at adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals. The unit starts

with single-digit decimal computation moving from adding to subtracting to multiplying and finally to
dividing. Then, we work on multi-digit decimal computation and progress through along the same path
as single-digit decimals. In the real world, computation is very useful. At a young age, students need to
be able to add and divide so that they can share equally. As a teenager and young adult, students need
to make payments, carefully budget their purchases, and give careful consideration to how they are
spending their money and time. Adults, too, need to be able to compute when budgeting, paying bills,
and doing taxes, just to name a few things. Throughout all stages of life, adding, subtracting, multiplying,
and dividing is a useful skill, and as life goes forward, the ability to incorporate decimals is very
important. By learning these as a sixth grader, students can begin to develop confidence working with
decimals, and in turn, working with money. Every student is familiar with money, and has at least some
interest in either acquiring or spending money. Even if their interest is minimal at least, it is certain that
it will become a more pressing concern as they get older. So, connecting this unit to money makes the
topic useful and engaging for students. One of the overarching questions in this unit is Where are
decimals used in life and why are they useful? I can imagine students immediately connecting decimals
to money, so I want to focus on that and make sure to keep it in mind as I teach this unit to a sixth grade
class. On a broader scale, decimals are useful is charity, service, and time management. As I go through
this unit, we focus on those aspects of decimals and encourage students to relate their lives to those
topics.

Working with decimals is also an important skill to have for furthering learning in math. Students

will need decimal computation skills working with negative numbers in 7th grade, with slope and
graphing in 8th grade, and in all of the math classes they take in the future. If high school students are
limited to whole numbers, their real world applications to math are almost nonexistent. In calculus
students will need to know decimals to calculate volume and expanding area.
Prior to this unit, students went through inequalities and comparisons. First they compared
integers, then added fractions and decimals. So naturally, it makes sense to move on to decimal

computation immediately after that. After the decimal unit, the sixth graders move onto solving
equations with decimals, so decimal computation is a necessary skill.
Although some areas of life deal only with whole numbers, most real world problems deal with
decimals or percent. By teaching decimals to sixth graders, they will be able to succeed not only in math
classes in the future, but hopefully also enjoy math more as they are able to use it to solve the problems
that our world is facing. Scott Brown, in his article Nifty Nines and Repeating Decimals, writes, In the
middle grades, students should have frequent and diverse experiences with mathematics reasoning (p.
179). It is important to connect learning to passions, so hopefully by connecting the work we do in class
to problems outside of school, students will feel encouraged to pursue their passions and use math in a
helpful way to pursue those passions.

Works Cited
Scott A. Brown. (2016). Nifty Nines and Repeating Decimals. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School,

22(3), 178-181. doi:10.5951/mathteacmiddscho.22.3.0178