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Do your kids have a hard time with subtracting larger numbers when a zero is involved?


Problems like this makes my kiddos nuts!  I have finally figured out a simpler way to help them subtract
accurately without any "magic" numbers showing up!  Maybe you all have already figured this out, but just incase there are others who were struggling with this as I have been, I thought I would share a teaching strategy.

My kids know they need to borrow from the zero, but they cannot figure out how or what number that silly zero turns into.  I started asking my kids to look at the next number beside the zero and make it a double digit number.  In this case, we would look at 30 instead of just 0.  I tell my kids this is the same as 30 tens. Then, I ask my kids, "What number comes just before 30?"  It takes some of them a few seconds to think of the answer, but they can count backward and figure out that 29 comes just before 30.  So we cross out 30 tens, make it 29 tens, and add the 1 ten in front of the number in the one's place.
So simple!  The kids get it, remember it, and are using it without prompting!!  I hope this helps some of your struggling kiddos!

Head over to The Teaching Tribune for some more great posts!



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15 comments

  1. What a super easy idea! Thanks for sharing your 5-Star Blog and linking up!

    Charity
    The Organized Classroom Blog

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    1. That is a great way. I have used this way. The great thing is having more than one way that works and let students use the one they like best. I always try to give my students at least 3 ways to solve a problem. Great post!!!

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    2. I have been struggling with how to simplify this with my students. I am so excited to try this!

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  2. This is how I teach my students. I currently teach remedial math on the college level, and many of my students have never seen this method. I trust many elementary teachers will start introducing this a a viable strategy!

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  3. I have used this strategy for years, but we start with renaming numbers so they understand the principal behind the action. Students need to understand that the 30 part of 300 is another way to say 30 tens. So when you trade, borrow, or regroup you take a 10 away from 30 tens and it leaves you with 29 tens. Butt it does work every time. So much easier!

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    1. I really do know the difference between principle and principal...darn auto fill. :)

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  4. That was easy!! I will try this with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. That was easy!! I will try this with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I struggled so much with math in elementary and middle school that I can still remember specific page numbers that I had to correct and re-correct over and over. This is awesome. :)

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  7. It took me teaching my own kids to figure this one out myself. All through my own schooling, I never thought of it like that. You just made the 0 a 9 because the teacher said so.

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  8. It is a very helpful method for "our kids".

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  9. Thank you! This is so helpful and we definitely be useful for one of my homework coach students! :)

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  10. Holy cow!! I do not know why I haven't seen this simple trick before! I teach a mild-moderate 2-4 SDC class and my kiddos have struggled with borrowing. I am always writing borrowing goals for my students and this is a great addition to my "bag of tricks!"

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  11. Holy cow! I can't believe I haven't figured this simple trick out before. I teach a mild to moderate 2-4 SDC class and my kiddos often struggle with borrowing and even more when there is a zero in the tens spot! I can't wait to show my students this on Monday! Thank you for sharing!

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