Hi there. In this educational post, I would like to talk about spelling in mathematics. This is suitable for elementary school mathematics. Contents from this post can be extended to high school mathematics and university mathematics as there is more writing involved when it comes to communicating answers and reasoning.
It Is Not Just About Numbers
I do think a lot of early mathematics education has a large emphasis on numbers, algebra and calculations. There is nothing wrong with this as they large part of the math fundamentals. You can also add in the problem solving parts from mathematics as well. Something that I think is overlooked or not even emphasized that much is the writing part of mathematics. At the higher levels in mathematics, there are less numbers and there are more symbols and ideas out there in the courses. In addition, there is also more writing than computational work (in the pure mathematics sides at least.)
This post looks at the writing side of mathematics starting with spelling. Before being able to writing good sentences with reasoning in mathematics, the spelling has to be good first.
Misspelling Examples & Confusions In Math
There are times when young students from my Mathnasium work complain that it is not spelling class when they misspell words. I once had to point the difference between an angle versus an angel. Both the words angle and angel have five letters and use the letters
l, but are sorted differently. In the math context, you would not want to say
This angel is obtuse when it should be
This angle is obtuse. The difference in spelling is small but the difference in meanings is huge.
For Vs Four
This one is obvious as four is a number (4) and the word for is for indication to an object or place. I have four eggs versus I have for eggs.
Halves Not Twoths
The naming fractions spelling does have a pattern on its own. There are fourths for four equal pieces in one, fifths, sixths, sevenths, eights, ninths, tenths and so on. An interesting spelling mistake that I have seen from a few young students is twoths when it should be halves. Halves refers to two equal pieces in one whole. I can see why some would spell twoths after seeing the patterns from fourths, fifths and so on. (Thirds is another unusual spelling that you may have to teach.)
Whole Vs Hole
A hole refers to an opening on an object or space. The concept of one whole refers to an entire amount. They sound the same but they have different meanings (homonyms).
One Vs Won
These two words sound the same (homonyms). Won refers to someone to a winner. One is a number which a single item or object.
The ideal case is to have young students have great spelling and grammar. However, the student age has to be kept in mind. I would not recommended writing long sentences to a grade two math student. Do correct the students in a tactful manner. As students get good in spelling in mathematics the next step is to work on reasoning and communication skills through writing.