“Many problems that appear in later numeracy can be traced back to a lack of understanding of place value. It therefore needs careful attention, particularly when zeros are involved.” – Chinn & Ashcroft, Mathematics for Dyslexics
Place value may be covered quite quickly in a student’s first math lessons, but for the dyslexic student, who likely will have trouble with multi-stepped procedures and working memory overload, the problem will spread beyond borrowing and regrouping, into multiplication, decimals, and algebra.
At left, from Diane Montgomery’s Teaching Gifted Children with Special Educational Needs, see examples of systematic place value errors.
#1: Carry-over mistake in addition.
#2. Borrowing – Regrouping error in subtraction.
#3. Carryover mistake in multiplication
#4. Numerator – denominator errors in fractions
For dyslexic students, math difficulties snowball when math is taught as multi-stepped procedures moving numbers around on a page rather than with a strong conceptual understanding in mind. There are many math procedures that are worked left to right (addition, long division), but others that are performed right to left (subtraction). If a strong understanding of the meaning of math procedures is not clearly ‘in mind’, then mistakes are bound to occur.
In the examples and resources below, see how an experiential knowledge and understanding of place value can help students at every level of math as they progress.
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