
Mnemonic Tip: # 41
January 04, 2004 





This week an adult student who needs to pass a
placement test so that he can enter a training program as a step in his
career change presented the situation for this week’s mnemonic clue. He
reported years of frustration with math and a current fear of the
subject as he faces the placement test. We worked on why he struggled
with math and he began to understand that, although he basically
understood the concepts, he had difficulty relating the numbers and
symbols to the concepts. In particular was the concept of place value
and how the numbers fit into the places. Many students find place
values difficult because of the words: billion, trillion, million,
tens, hundreds and ones. Individuals who have learning problems often
forget the sequence of these terms and are not able to use logic to
figure them out. This student stated that he had always been confused
by the words used with numbers but, with recent instruction, he now
knows the place values. However, he was still confused by the place
values of number to the right of the decimal point. 


The Mnemonic Clue 


This mnemonic clue involves the HTO pattern
for place value. Individuals who have difficulty with the vocabulary of
numbers can learn the HTO (Hundred, Ten and One)
pattern, learning to read all numbers separated by commas as HTO’s
(246  two hundred, twentyfour. 589,246  five hundred, eighty
nine, two hundred, twentyfour). 


When teaching students the place values of
numbers to the right of the decimal point, it is helpful for those
students who have learned the HTO (Hundreds, Tens, and Ones)
pattern to read the decimal point as if it was the one’s column (O)
and learn that the pattern for decimals is OTH. This makes it easier
for the students to remember that the number after the decimal point is
in the tenth place. When seen on a number line, it produces a mnemonic
clue: Oh Tooth. And the idea that one of the O’s
in the tooth has no value and can be extracted can help the student to
remember that there is no ones column after the decimal point.









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