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Curriculum Corner- Landmark Numbers

Included in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in Kindergarten is a focus on landmark numbers. Landmark numbers are numbers which hold special value/ serve special functions in our base ten number system. An important part of students' mathematical work in the elementary grades is building an understanding of the base ten number system. Part of becoming familiar with this system is learning about the relationship of numbers to important landmarks -- numbers that are familiar landing places, that make for simple calculations, and to which other numbers can be related, such as 10, 100, 1000, and their multiples and factors. Familiarity with these landmark numbers is a cornerstone of good number sense -a deep understanding of numbers, their characteristics, their place in the number system, and their relationships to one another. When solving real problems, people with well-developed number sense draw on their knowledge of these important landmark numbers. For example, think about how you would solve this problem, in your head, before you continue reading: If there are about 25 students in a class and 17 classes in our school, about how many students are there altogether? Many people would use their knowledge that there are four 25's in every 100 to help them solve this problem mentally. Rather than multiplying 17 by 25, they will think something like this: "There are four 25's in 100; there are eight in 200, 12 in 300, 16 in 400 -- and one more 25 makes 425." Efficient strategies to solve computation problems often depend on an understanding of how to use landmark numbers best to find the final answer. Consider a few more examples. Addition A student with solid number sense and a developing sense of the usefulness of landmark numbers is unlikely to make errors many teachers say they typically see. For example, teachers often describe the following kind of addition error:

First off, many students who are developing strategies based on their own growing sense of numbers, operations, and landmarks would find this answer unreasonable. A first glance at the problem would have led them to an estimate of "less than 200" or "110 and 40, close to 150" or even "about 200." An answer in the 500's would, and should, not make sense.

In fact, these students would likely solve the problem in a different way: 40 is 4 tens so I counted up by 10's: 122, 132, 142, 152. Another child might think of it as 110+40, and then add on the 2.These students see 40 as 4 tens, are comfortable adding ten (or multiples of 10) to any number, and de- and re-compose numbers in ways that are useful. To take another example, consider 629 + 72. One student might know that 629 plus 70 is 699 (because 20 and 70 is 90), then add on the remaining 2 to get 701. Another student might say, "Take one from 72, and give it the 629 to make it 630. 630 plus 70 is 700, plus one more (leftover from the 72) is 701." Subtraction In subtraction, changing the numbers to landmark numbers is often much easier than subtracting place by place, as in the traditional US algorithm (i.e. "borrowing"). Think for a minute about this problem: 'If you are 48 years old and I am 62, how much older am I than you?' When you think about finding the difference between 48 and 62, you immediately bring your number sense into play. You recognize very quickly a great deal about these numbers. You might use any of a number of ideas -- 62 is 2 more than 60, 48 is 2 less than 50, 48+10 is 58, 62-10 is 52, and 10 is the difference between 50 and 60. A lot of the information we use to solve this kind of problem has to do with the relationship between a quantity in the problem and a nearby landmark in the number system. For example, you could solve this problem by thinking that 48 to 50 is 2, 50 to 60 is 10, 60 to 62 is 2 more, so the difference is 10 + 2 + 2, or 14. You used multiples of ten -- 50 and 60 -- as critical landmarks or anchors to which the numbers 28 and 62 are connected. To take another example, many children who have learned the traditional rote procedure for solving subtraction problems would solve 1002-997 using the "borrowing" method. We want children to reason from their knowledge of the place of 1000 as an important landmark in the number system. When students envision where 1000 is placed in the number system, they can easily solve this problem mentally. They can count up from 997, or back from 1002. Or, they see that 997 is 3 away from 1000, and 1002 is 2 away from 1000, so the distance between these two numbers is 5. Similarly, a student who has developed knowledge about 20 and its relationship to 100, who has experience counting by 20's, and knows what the pattern of the multiples of 20 is like, would never make this common error:

Using a written subtraction algorithm -- whether faulty or correct -- is not a sensible approach to solving this problem. Rather, by inspecting the numbers and using knowledge of important landmarks in the number system, students should ... be able to solve this problem mentally...: 380 to 400 is 20, then 20, 40, two more 20's gets to 440, so that's three 20's. The answer is 60.'" Multiplication

Consider a harder multiplication problem, such as 83 x 25. Rather than using an algorithm to multiply, students with good number sense might solve this problem mentally, using reasoning such as this: "I know there are four 25's in 100, so forty 25's (or ten times as many) would be 1000. Eighty 25's would be 2000, and three more 25's makes 2075." This kind of thinking and reasoning, grounded in the knowledge of landmark numbers, can help students avoid pitfalls. For instance, consider this third grader's solution to the problem 57X4.

He multiplied the 7 and 4, getting 28, put down the 8 and "carried" the 2, then added the 2 to the 5 before multiplying by 4, giving him an answer of 288. This child knew, when asked, that " two 50's would be 100, so [50x4 is] 200" and that he still needed to solve 7 x 4. He finished solving the problem, adding the two sub products in his head. For this student, 57 x 4 should have been an easy mental problem. Division Consider the landmarks these 5th grade students are using to solve 159/13. One student thought about the problem as, "how many 13's are in 159?" She knew that ten 13's is 130, that she then had 29 remaining in the dividend, and that she could take two 13's out of 29, giving her an answer of 12 with a remainder of 3. One child counted by 13's until he reached 52. He then added 52's until he got as close to 159 as possible (52 + 52 + 52 = 156). He knew there were four 13's in each of the 52's, so he had twelve 13's, with a remainder of 3. Another student "just knew" that 13 x 13 = 169. He took away 13, got 156, and said, "So 12 13's make 156, and there are 3 leftover. 12 remainder 3." Conclusion Sound mental strategies such as those described above are used by people who are fluent in computation. When students use strategies based on their own good number sense, they are more likely to solve problems accurately and to make sure their solutions make sense. They tend to see quantities as whole quantities, not individual digits (for example, 629 is about 30 bigger than 600, not 629 is a 6 and a 2 and a 9 in a row), so they are more likely to notice if their results are unreasonable. Further, the strategies often move from left to right, working with the biggest numbers first, an approach that often leads to more accurate calculation. In Kindergarten, students begin to explore and understand the base ten number system and learn to see five and ten as special landmark numbers. As you know, we are currently working on our Number Pairs, Addition and Subtraction to 10 unit. In this unit, our work with these landmark numbers revolves around the following standards:

*For any number 1 9, quickly find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number. *Fluently add and subtract within 5. In order to help your child practice finding the number which needs to be added to a given number to make 10, play the following game (or any variation on this game): Begin with 10 pennies. Have your child count the pennies to clearly establish the number of pennies in your set. Ask your child to close his/her eyes as you remove some of the pennies. Ask your child to open his/her eyes and determine how many pennies you removed. Continue to play this game periodically (a few times a week) until your child can quickly determine how many pennies must be missing based on how many pennies were not removed. If working with 10 seems too challenging for your child currently, adjust this game and play it with 5 pennies. Once your child can quickly determine how many must be missing from a set of 5 pennies, begin playing this game with 10 pennies with your child and continue playing periodically until your child can quickly determine how many pennies must be missing from a set of 10 pennies. In order to help your child practice fluently adding and subtracting within 5 simply ask your child to solve simple addition and subtraction problems mentally. Our goal for this standard is for students to be able to solve 20 addition and subtraction problems accurately within four minutes.