Uncover common maths mix-ups

7th September 2007 at 01:00
Did you hear about the school that recently unearthed a time capsule after 30 years and found, among many other things, a list of maths misconceptions?

The teachers apparently wrote out all the things their children commonly misunderstood. Take a peek at the list. How many do you recognise as classic clangers that your charges make?

1. Dividing always makes

a number smaller. 2. The decimal point

jumps over digits. 3. 4.79 is bigger than 2.3. 4. An isosceles

triangle has one

line of symmetry. 5. A regular pentagon

can tessellate. 6. There is no such thing

as a straight angle. 7. One is a prime number. 8. The largest acute angle

is 89 degrees. 9. An improper fraction

is always top-heavy. 10. Two to the power 5

means 2x5.

OK, tongue in cheek maybe, but do you keep records of the common mistakes and misconceptions that children make in your school? This is an extremely valuable exercise because it enables you to spot areas that need attention and allows you to monitor what learners are getting in a muddle with.

Start collecting your own list of maths mix-ups and think of creative ways of challenging the*

John Dabell is a teacher at Lawn Primary School in Derby

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