So….what do you do? Do you tell the student to rewrite it correctly? Chances are, it’ll end up looking similar to the first try.
Here is my little trick. If you have your students turn their notebook, the lines magically turn into columns! They can nicely line everything up since one number fits in each space. When I discovered this during my first year of teaching 3rd grade, I was stunned at how well it worked. If I walked around and saw a student’s numbers misaligned, I would say, “Flip your paper and put your numbers between the lines.” Two years later, I was moved to fifth grade. When we worked on multiplication problems, I saw students I previously had use this strategy. As a teacher, I bet you could imagine how happy I was to see them still applying something I taught them.