Addressing Local Math Misconceptions

Yes, yes,and more yes! I would only add that the “new” math that parents are concerned with really isn’t “new”. It’s being taught in a much more scaffolded, conceptual manner that will help students gain more solid understanding over time. So, parents, I say to you: talk to your child’s teacher if you’re confused. Or (gasp!) visit their math class a few times to see what’s happening there! I promise, you will see that this “new” math isn’t that scary after all!

Educational Aspirations


Over the past week I had time to disconnect a bit and spend time with family. I was able to stay with relatives in another state and spent most of the time catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while. It was a great time to refresh and reflect on the past year.  While relaxing one relative in particular asked me about this “new” math that’s in the schools now. I was asked why schools are changing how they teach math and why it needed to change. Specifically she spoke of the different strategies used to compute numbers.  I’m assuming she meant the extensive use of the number line and compatible numbers.  I defended the reasons for a more conceptual understanding of mathematics, especially at the elementary level. Many of the “new” strategies help build that understanding and enable students in developing a foundational understanding of numbers. The relative was receptive and…

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One thought on “Addressing Local Math Misconceptions

  1. I plan to have my students keep a math journal this semester. They have been learning so much, and i think they are ready to learn how to “debrief” themselves. They have been tasked with this in an informal way, when i have them write explanations of what they are doing/have done, and as i have them explain work verbally to a partner, or teach to a student who was out.
    Another way i try to find misconceptions is to talk about the types of misconceptions students get, about the places some kids get stuck, and about the questions i have personally when i am solving things. I watch the kids for body language: sympathy, nodding heads, even simple interest in what i am saying. It is my way of beginning a discussion about what they still need to know. I am pleased with the way our classroom is becoming a safe place to speak out. That is my goal. I think the oil for this is a simple phrase i use when i am asking questions: “there is no wrong answer; i just want to know what you are thinking.”

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