Ready, Set, Mistake

I have shamelessly stolen the idea for this blog from Michael Pershan’s Math Mistakes blog.

At this point, I might as well steal his first post, too. Here you go:

Here’s the idea for this site:

Teachers need to be able to quickly look at mathematical work and identify the assumptions behind the work, and what actions to take in response to the work. That’s hard. But practice can help us get better at this.

The idea is that on this site each post will be a selection of student work. That student work will be posted by me, but sent in by you. And then in the comments we’ll discuss: what are the assumptions behind this work, and what could the next steps be.


I can’t imagine a better (outside-of-the-classroom) way to do deliberate practice on a skill so essential to teaching physics (that is, figuring out what students are thinking so that you can help them construct a better understanding from their current one).

I would like to focus on two things when analyzing student work on this blog:

  1. What was the student thinking? How did he or she decide to make these particular marks on the paper?
  2. What question or problem would you pose next to help the student make the next step toward understanding?

I hope that this site will become a way to collaboratively practice determining and understanding student thinking and to celebrate mistakes as the beginnings of understanding.

To become a contributor to this site, please send an email to physicsmistakes at gmail dot com.

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