Writing Rules for Numbers in Standard Form and Words

What are the writing rules for numbers in standard form and words? Basically, kids (and adults) must understand periods, or series of three numbers set off by commas.

Ms. Sneed Teaches Rules for Writing Numbers

Our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her student teacher. “Today, we’ll continue planning our place value unit,” Ms. Sneed said. “We’ll teach our students the rules for writing numbers in standard form and words.”

Mr. Grow nodded. Opening his folder, he pulled out the lessons they’d already planned. First, they’d teach kids to find the value of digits in multi-digit numbers. For that, they would use place value charts. Second, their kids would learn how to read large numbers. “Will expanded form come next?” he asked.

“Yes, then kids will learn to round and compare numbers.”

The student teacher nodded, making note of it on a pad of paper.

Writing Numbers in Standard Form

As usual, Ms. Sneed pulled out her laptop and found the materials they’d use. “You will see some repetition of concepts we’ve already taught in fourth grade math. That will help kids move toward mastery.”

Begin by Teaching Periods

She pulled up a familiar place value anchor chart. “First, we’ll review periods, or each set of three numbers. To read and write numbers, kids tackle each period separately. When reading, they then state the period name. Like we talked about yesterday, the number 614,614,614 would be read as six hundred fourteen million, six hundred fourteen thousand, six hundred fourteen.”

When teaching rules for writing numbers in upper elementary grades, begin with periods.
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Review Zero as a Placeholder

“Today, however, kids will be working in the opposite direction: converting numbers in words to numbers in standard form.”

As Mr. Grow looked on, he commented. “Hey, that’s from the first lesson. Kids use zero as a placeholder.”

“Right. It’s the same concept, but we’ll be rephrasing it as ‘rules for writing numbers in standard form’ today.”

When teaching rules for writing numbers, address zeros as placeholders. Without them, the number collapses.

Give Kids Plenty of Practice Writing Numbers in Standard Form

Next, Ms. Sneed pulled up two worksheets. “Most of the kids will practice converting six-digit numbers in words to standard form. However, advanced learners will complete a worksheet that uses numbers to the hundred millions place.”

Give kids plenty of practice writing numbers in standard form.

Writing Numbers in Words

“Once again,” Ms. Sneed said, “we’ll ask kids to do the reverse. This time, they’ll convert numbers from standard form to words.”

Review the Rules for Writing Numbers in Words and Post Them

She pulled up an anchor chart with some tips. “Here goes. The rules for writing numbers in words are more complex:

  • Write it just as you’d read it aloud.
  • Don’t use ‘and.’ Remember, that word is only used at the decimal point.
  • Add a comma after the period name.
  • Two-digit numbers after twenty use hyphens (e.g., twenty-seven) – no matter what period they’re in.”

Mr. Grow sighed. “I bet some kids will struggle with this.”

His mentor nodded. “Yes, we’ll have to provide lots of support and opportunities for remediation. In addition to the rules, we can also offer some caution on tricky spelling:

  • Fourteen has a ‘u,’ but forty doesn’t.
  • Nineteen has an ‘e.’ (Actually, it has three.)
  • Ninety has an ‘e’ too.”

“Are those ‘e’ suggestions really necessary?”

“Oh yes,” Ms. Sneed said with a slight laugh. “I like to say, ‘It’s ninety, not ninty, as well as it’s nineteen, not ninteen.’ I’m not sure why that’s tricky for kids, but believe me, it is.”

The rules for writing numbers in words are more complicated.

Give a Number Words Spelling Test

Now Ms. Sneed pulled up a list of number words. “To provide even more support, we’ll use these for our spelling list next week. That way, our kids will be more successful.”

Kids need practice spelling number words.

Again, Provide Plenty of Practice

Finally, she pulled up two more worksheets.

“As suspected,” Mr. Grow said, “most kids will work with numbers to 999,999. However, we have a worksheet to 999,999,999 for advanced students.”

“You catch on fast!”

Use worksheets with big numbers written in standard form to help kids practice rules for writing numbers in words.

Enjoy Teaching

As the year progressed, the two teachers were glad that they had spend time working on multi-digit numbers. Their students could read and write numbers like pros. And even better, they understood place value.

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