Student Misconceptions?

This week I want to talk to you about "student misconceptions".

Over on my @numberdoctors Instagram account I have started a new hashtag called #kidsmakingsenseofmaths.

Essentially, I share any interesting wonderings my children come up with when we discuss maths (which is quite a lot as you can imagine😉)

I am sure you come across your own "pearlers" every day... those insightful (and funny) things that your students say as they are trying to make sense of maths.

The other day my Four year old said "I came threeth".

Of course she meant "I came third"

Her use of the word "threeth" is a fantastic attempt at making sense of ordinal numbers.

She is following the pattern that every number (except, first, second, third, and fifth) follows... you say the number, then you say "th".

The reality is that unfortunately maths doesn't always "play nicely".

Some may call this a "misconception", but the more I have thought about this... the more I feel that when you say "misconception" it is like the student is in the wrong...

When actually often they are following the rules- it is the rules that change!

I like to think they have "uncovered a common difficulty"!

I'm sure you come across a common difficulties in your teaching- maybe it is the teen numbers- my daughter said- "eleventeen" for a long time... or maybe it is using their whole number thinking to make sense of decimals... or maybe they think the MAB thousands block is worth 600? (This is something I discovered in my PhD research)

Whatever it is... it is evidence that their brains are thinking 🙌 and doing their best to crack the code of mathematics.

And for that... I think we should be celebrating!

So next time you have a student uncover a common difficulty, give them a big (COVID safe) virtual pat on the back... and share it with the class... because I'm sure they are not alone in their thinking!


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