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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Greater Than or Less Than Symbol

I just wonder why we have to teach all the tricks about how to read the comparison symbol for
Greater Than and Less Than statements?

I am working with a First Grader who is getting all the problems on the worksheet correct but doesn't have a clue WHY.

She would tell you:

Step One:  Put 2 dots next to the biggest number
Step Two: Put 1 dot next to the smaller number
Step Three: Connect the dots

32 : . 17

When I first started working with her she was just leaving the dots. Next, she remembered to connect the dots, but she kept forming a triangle!!!!  

And of course there is the alligator trick... where the alligator eats the biggest number!!!!! 
What about using a student work mat like these?

Then have students place some separate number cards (such as 32 and 17) in the correct position on the student work mat and say the comparison out loud like they are reading a sentence.
Here are some examples of how to read the sentence:

When I compare these numbers 32 is greater than 17.

When I compare these numbers 17 is less than 32.

Why all the tricks....just get down to what the symbol really means.
If you agree with me, just let me know and I will link these work mats to my Google Doc account so you can print them out without creating them yourself.

What do you think?



  1. I like it! Seriously, a lot of the "tricks" I think originated with teachers who don't understand math, so didn't know how to teach for understanding!


  2. I like this! I think students will understand this better and I would also make them write the sentence as well as saying it.



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