When you begin to teach a unit, it’s essential to know the types of errors students typically make related to the concept you’ll be teaching. Basically, if you know where the train is going to derail, you can head it off at the pass. Over time, you notice misconceptions, file them away in a mental file cabinet, and you learn to plan for them.
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If you want to speed up that process, however, Math Misconceptions, From Misunderstanding to Deep Understanding, PreK-Grade 5 is a wonderful resource.
Talking about misconceptions should be a part of your team planning process, because you need to address those misconceptions in your instruction. I’ve prepared a little place value freebie that illustrates what I mean by that.
One problem with place value is that students can name the places in a number, but they don’t really understand the value. In this first challenge, students must explain the value of a given digit. Notice that they also must use 2 zeros in their number–another very common stumbling block, especially when reading large numbers.
Another misconception is that more digits mean a bigger number. That is certainly true with whole numbers, but not with decimals. If you look at the card below, students would be likely to say that 13.055 is the largest number, because it has the most digits. Keep in mind that just throwing this challenge into a workstation isn’t going to overcome the misconception. By the time students see this activity, they should have had lots of opportunities to explore the concept using manipulatives or drawings.
So remember, careful planning and shrewd instruction will stop the misconception train dead in its tracks. Click here to grab your set of 8 place value challenges.