How To Avoid Silly Mistakes In Maths

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by stayblessed, Jun 28, 2021.

  1. stayblessed

    stayblessed Platinum IL'ite

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    My daughter is in 10th grade this year. I find her do a lot of silly mistakes in maths. She understands the concepts and sometimes when she doesn't she gets help from friends and teachers and gets the hang of it. So no problem there. In all these years in her exams and even home assignments I see her do a lot of silly mistakes like copying the numbers from the question wrongly, leaving the negative sign, addition, multiplication mistakes etc.. apart from the few conceptual mistakes. How to fix this? She used to like maths but I see of late she is frustrated that she looses mistakes just because of silly mistakes and I feel this tension results in more mistakes. I have heard suggestions from teachers regular practice helps. Apart from that I have told my daughter to check for the usual mistakes she does like when copying the numbers from the question, double check then and there. I understand this is all because of poor concentration. I dont know how to improve that. Please tell if there are any tips and tricks that can help fix this problem. She is not interested in theory subjects either. So she doesn't want to take pure science group next year. She wants to take maths only and do engineering. But there are so many entrance exams that she has to pass. I dont want her to loose on them because of these mistakes. Any help is highly appreciated
     
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Figure out a way to confirm that she is indeed understanding the concept fully and not stopping at getting the gist of it. Don't just take her word for it. One way to confirm and check her understanding would be to ask her to explain the concept to a parent or to record a short audio or video of her explaining it.

    Regular practice without tangible guidelines she can follow will not help much with "silly" mistakes.

    You mean well but the above has two drawbacks. One is that it will take significant time (what we used to call revise the answers). That time will mean lesser time to attempt the harder problems. The other drawback is that such double-checking will often just make her repeat the silly mistake, unless she redoes/checks the entire problem. Know what I mean? To find the silly mistake before she knows where it is, she will have to check all the work she has done, including any "scratch" work.

    Try this:
    After each school test, homework assignment or home practice test is graded by teacher or your daughter herself, have her go over the incorrect answers. She should not simply understand the correct answer or how to arrive at it. In fact, the correct answer is not really important. She should investigate why she got this particular answer wrong. Reasons could be: i) Rushed in reading the problem. ii) Assumed it was similar to a problem she remembered from earlier. iii) Copied the numbers wrongly iv) Wrote the sign wrongly v) Did some mental math wrong. vi)... vii) ...

    What follows is crucial: She should not stop at identifying the reason as one from the above list. Take that reason and go further. Try to recall why rushed in reading the problem or why sign was left out. Think hard. Was it overconfidence? Distracted by chatter in the room? Afraid that she will run out of time? Only identify the reason, no scolding self for that. Doing this reflection a few times will bring out the deeper reason(s) for the mistakes. This reflection is also sufficiently unpleasant that it will start serving as a natural deterrent for silly mistakes.

    A parallel approach could be that based on each math topic, she identifies couple of checkpoints when she pauses during a problem and does a "verbal/aloud to herself" check to ensure so far so good. These checkpoints will be different for algebra, geometry, calculus and so on. Read about Japan's pointing and calling system for train drivers and how it was adapted by the New York City subway.

    All that said, the best source for ideas related to this would be @hrastro!
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
  3. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Platinum IL'ite

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    Nice response.
    The "point and call" scheme of metro drivers is so relevant. In math exams the idea of whether the answer is RATIONAL or not is the key. Even in a multiple choice like 10X 4 = [0.4, 4, 40000, 40 and 400], a child has to know what is reasonable and rational. That's where the decision making has to happen.

    In the ancient times, we made horrendous mistakes by not looking up the "antilogs" table to arrive at the correct answer. Math teachers used to tell students to write "LOOK UP ANTILOGS" on each page of the the question paper before starting the exam. The notion of making sure that the answer is RATIONAL is the key to getting a higher rank.

    here is a youtube on point-and-call:
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
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  4. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    Interesting discussions here. Log or anti log.
    My friend in Lab was looking into anti log table for log and in great confusion for a long time as The answer found by him irrational. I whispered while walking close by to check next page in anti log table.

    When my son was five or six, he was failing to predict predecessor and successor to numbers. Before and after too he was confused with.
     
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  5. stayblessed

    stayblessed Platinum IL'ite

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    Thank you so much @Rihana for your time and detailed reply. I will try to use your method to understand if she really understood the concept. Your tip of going through through the incorrect answers and finding the reasons and then reflecting on them is a good one. Will try this. As for the checklist I have asked her maths teacher for the same for each chapter. Will show her the links that you have given. Thanks a lot for these tips and tricks rihana. Grateful.

    //You meanwell butthe above has two drawbacks. One is that it will take significanttime (what we used to call revise the answers). That time will mean lesser time to attempt the harder problems. The other drawback is that such double-checking will often just make her repeat the silly mistake, unless she redoes/checks the entire problem. Know what I mean? To find the silly mistake before she knows where it is, she will have to check all the work she has done, including any "scratch" work.//

    I think I conveyed wrongly. what I meant was while copying the numbers from the question she makes a mistake. Like for example she was doing Ap yesterday and instead of 52 she copied the value from the question as 50 and did the whole sum and got it wrong leaving the teacher no way to give even step marks. Yes for the reason you quoted only I asked her to check if she has copied the number correctly else it's a waste of time for one thing and even if she checks she won't be able to fix it because she has worked out the whole sum with a different set of values than the question.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
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  6. Thoughtful

    Thoughtful Gold IL'ite

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    Is her eye sight good. Might be worth taking an eye exam as we might think the silly mistakes are due to her carelessness but the problem could be elsewhere.

    Another thing I can think is to be disciplined about the calculations she does. Instead of doing at random places, have a clear order /steps to things which she needs to refer back ( top to bottom and on the side of the sheet or in a rough paper. Don't crunch and write or be miserly about the space used to do calculations.

    Handwriting legibility and good pens which helps write neatly also helps and if she needs to spend some time practicing her writing ( 15 minutes a day ), might be worth it.

    When copying numbers from question paper, it might be worth writing the numbers from the question as the first part of the answer in her own handwriting. She can check twice that she wrote it correctly and refer to her own writing from there on, instead of going to the question paper. I don't know if this is practical enough, but maybe worth a try. If it doesn't help, discard the idea.
     
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  7. stayblessed

    stayblessed Platinum IL'ite

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    Thank you thoughtful. We are planning to take her to the eye doctor since we also have this doubt. True being organised in writing helps. Thanks for all your tips. These are really helpful
     

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