Adding and subtracting decimals

Most recently, I finished the sections on adding and subtracting decimals. This is for my book, How to Help Your Child with Fifth Grade Mathematics. That chapter on computing with decimals just keeps getting larger and larger.

I have already finished the section on multiplying decimals. Before the month is done, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo, I’d like to review what I wrote for multiplying decimals as a way to write the section on dividing decimals.

I also want to write a section for adding decimals that makes connections to adding fractions. And then I’ll do the same for subtracting decimals.

It has been my experience as a teacher that many students in fifth grade struggle with computing with decimals. Then we move on to other concepts in mathematics, like geometry, and then we come around to fractions. As we come back to decimals again, as I do to see how students have progressed, I find that the work we do with fractions influences and informs the work and studying we did previously in the year with decimals. But not every student makes those connections on their own. As a teacher, I encourage those students who have made those connections to share them with their classmates. I also make it explicit, looking at parallel problems in decimals and fractions at the same time, for those students who are still having a hard time making those connections. I want to reflect this in my book as well, because it is a strategy that will help children and parents. I’ve seen it firsthand myself dozens of times, and it’s an idea worth sharing.


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