Task: Place Value Dice Game

This task (game) was given to me by my teacher: I did not plan it, but only implemented it.

Task Description

The goal of the task was for students to think about place value and “periods” (in the number 365, 728, “365” is a period in the thousands place and “728” is a period in the ones place. Then the students can read each period the same, but appending the appropriate period name: “Three hundred sixty-five thousand, seven hundred twenty-eight (ones).”)

Students were given three ten-sided dice and a worksheet for record-keeping.


Students would roll the set of three dice twice, writing down the three-digit number using the place value on each die.

Then they would decide which period would make more sense to be first, depending on the goal from the worksheet.

For example, if they rolled 365 with one roll and then 728 with a second roll, they could choose to have the number “365,728” or “728,365”.

The worksheet had about 12 “find a number closest to…” goals available:

  • 3 goals were: “Closest to zero”
  • 3 goals were: “Closest to 1,000,000”
  • 2 goals were: “Closest to 750,000”
  • 2 goals were: “Closest to 500,000”
  • 2 goals were: “Closest to 250,000”

Students were in pairs and whoever was closest to a number “won” that round and got a point.

Reflection on Task and Implementation:

We started out on the carpet at the front of the room, but some students in the first group asked to move to desks to make it easier to roll the dice and record responses. I write more about the struggle I faced for my own communication of expectations in Week 4: Reflection (Review / Cross Class Math Groups).

In each group, some pairs of students were very focused on rolling the dice and finding the closest number. But at least one pair in each group struggled to stay focused – either one student would not take turns with the dice or would roll them wildly multiple times. I wondered if one solution would be that each student had their own set of dice and they could work together or individually. I also wondered if it would have been different if I had known the students and been able to shuffle partnerships to be more balanced.

In the moment, I decided that I had been unclear with my expectations with the first group, assuming that they would know what I expected regarding use of resources. For the second group, then, I briefly told them my expectations, ending with “if the dice don’t stay on the desks, I will take them away and you will have to complete a different activity.” At that point, hands went up and students asked about boundary cases: e.g., “if I roll the dice, and one falls out accidentally…”

For the partners that were on task, the game seemed fairly straightforward and even easy. I don’t remember if there were any “Choose your own goal” slots on the sheet, but I think it would have been interesting for students if they could choose their own goal and try to achieve it.



One response to “Task: Place Value Dice Game

  1. Pingback: Week 4: Reflection (Review / Cross Class Math Groups) | Sense-Making in a Complex Field

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