How Much Is a Million?Place Value and Exponents Come to Life (CCSS and STEM-aligned)

by  Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

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Just how much is a million? How does it compare with a thousand … or a billion? What do all those zeros really mean? How can we write big numbers in more efficiently (with exponents)? How can fractions and decimals be understood through exponents? And what use are these numbers anyway? The author of How Much Is a Million? and over 50 other math and science books uses an abundance of props and personal stories to make essential math concepts come alive in the classroom. He talks about how he turned his own childhood curiosities into books, and he encourages children to ask questions and pursue answers using math as a tool to understand the world.

Program Rating

  based on 4 evaluation(s).

About This Program


By Request: $300.00
By Request Premium: $270.00


Flexible, but recommend 45 min. with an extra 15 min. available

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5Public Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines


Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)

Booking Information

Sorry, this program is not currently available. To inquire about future availability, please contact Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

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Provider's Cancellation Policy

We make every effort to re-book in the event of school being closed for snow day or other unplanned event. (No penalty in that case.) Aside from school closures, a cancellation that cannot be rebooked by both parties will result in a $100 fee if it comes more than 48 hours before the scheduled event, $150 if it comes less than 48 hours in advance.

About This Provider

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Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

White Plains, NY
United States

The Common Core State Standards have focused attention on process and using nonfiction in the classroom. Our Authors on Call from iNK Think Tank embody the CCSS. This team uses their extraordinary breadth of knowledge to transform today's classrooms into vital centers of learning. These authors are experts in processing enormous amounts of information, sifting through it and synthesizing it into works with added value. So why not talk to these masters of 21st century skillsand let them unpack their process for your students? They are eager to share their knowledge with you and to help you inspire your students with books kids love to read about subjects you're required to teach. So far our authors include Jan Adkins, Vicki Cobb,  Roxie Munro, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent,Carla Killough McClafferty, Kerrie Hollihan, Aline Alexander Newman, David M. Schwartz, Alexandra Siy,  Peggy Thomas, Marissa Moss, Jan Adkins, and Andrea Warren. Keep coming back as we add more authors and new programs.

Vicki Cobb

Program Details


1. The program begins with humorous stories to illustrate the author’s lifelong curiosity about numbers, especially big numbers, and how important they are in everyone’s life.
2. We then look at a few of the author’s non-fiction books from the perspective of how math connects to books and to the real world, and how an author can tie the two together.
3. Using props and the storyline of his book On Beyond a Million, David shows how to understand our number system in a way that children (and teachers) find fascinating and suspenseful. He develops the concept of exponents and place value in a tangible way that correlates with Common Core standards. If appropriate to the audience, he shows why it makes sense that, paradoxically, 10^0 = 1.
4. If time allows (or the coordinator requests), David shows how fractions, decimals and division relate to each other by negative exponents (again using visuals and props).
5. If time allows (or coordinator requests), David will demonstrating the power of exponential growth in order to appreciate the enormity of large numbers like googol (10^100). The method draws on students’ everyday experience in a way they can understand.


Participants will gain understanding of:
1. Place value in a visual and memorable way
2. The concept of exponents in an equally visual way, and use of expanded notation to denote them
3. The power of exponential growth

Participants will gain an appreciation of
1. the value of curiosity about their world
2. the value of math as a tool to understand the world (and the mathematical connection to science)
3. math as an enjoyable activity and useful activity, not dry drudgery

Participants will be encouraged to mimic the author’s process by researching and mathematically exploring examples of their own, deriving from this program and the author’s books as mentor texts.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

CCSS, p. 27, Grade 4: Mathematics
• P. 27 (1): “Students generalize their understanding of place value to 1,000,000, understanding the relative sizes of numbers in each place.”

• p. 29: Number and Operations in Base Ten 4.NBT
Generalize place value understanding for multi-digit whole numbers
1. Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to the right.
2. Read and write multi-digit whole numbers using base ten-numerals, number names, and expanded form. Compare two-multi-digit numbers based on meanings of the digits in each place, using >,=, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons.
3. Use place value understanding to round multi-digit whole numbers to any place.

2. CCSS, pp. 34-35, Grade 5
• P. 35: Number and Operations in Base Ten 5.NBT
1. Recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents to its left.

CCSS Mathematical Process Standards
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
4. Model with mathematics
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

CCSS Reading Standards for Informational Text, “Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details. Summarize the text”
CCSS Writing Standards: “Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly”