Planning for Math Misconceptions

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

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.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

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.

 

15 Comments

    • Donna Boucher

      It’s kind of a series. They have a general one (the one I included) and they also have grade level books with activities to undo the misconceptions. Very helpful!

      Reply
    • Jody

      Thanks, Donna! I need to get this set of books, also. Thanks so much for sharing this great post with us! Love your new ‘look’!! 🙂

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks Jody! I LOVE the makeover! And the math books, too. Ha ha.

      Reply
  1. MrsPaulson

    Thank you!
    I just attended a conference where I was able to learn AND understand base 2 through base 16. I am going to do my best to help my students understand place VALUE.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Awesome! Fabulous goal for the new year. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Tina Moricz

    I really like your place value challenge cards. Thanks for sharing them with us. These would make great journal responses or blog posts for my students.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      You are very welcome! Love the idea of your kiddos blogging.

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I know! I love hearing little mathematicians at work. Ha ha.

      Reply
  3. maniksread

    this is good information of math choche’s corner.

    MB Golf Instruction .

    Reply
  4. Patti Wilson

    I just completed a two week workshop on math lesson studys and Common Core. Misconceptions is one thing we addressed. Thanks for sharing the book.

    Patti
    One Class, One Sound

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Sounds like a great workshop! I think misconceptions is something that doesn’t get near enough airtime. Enjoy some time off now!

      Reply
  5. Mrs. Burger

    Great post. I try to write in my planbooks from year to year the misconceptions I catch so that I can nip it in the bud the next year around. I will definitely be looking into getting that book! Thanks

    Reply
  6. Karen Ganon

    Thank you! These will be great for their interactive notebooks and for critical thinking!

    Reply

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