Tag Archives: Word problem (mathematics)

Assessments Update

Demise of Soccer Balls

Okay, this is becoming a little daunting.  I knew the fun pictures of soccer balls and ice cream cones I used for the Kindergarten assessment were going to be replaced by more number-dense problems, but I’ve just finished the third grade Operations and Algebraic Thinking domain and I already have 29 problems.  Yikes!  My philosophy of including each word problem variation may not survive third grade.  But how do I choose?  Will it be the Goldilocks solution: one easy, one hard, and one “just right?”  Or is there a better way?

I just looked back at my 3rd grade assessment to see how many word problems I have and noticed  many of my other problems have multiple parts.  For example:  Write a related multiplication fact for each division expression has 4 division expressions to solve.  So, my assessment is really much longer than 29 problems.  (My count: 11 word problems for 3.OA.3 and 7 for 3.OA.8.)

Oh, yes, and looking back at my notes from a month ago before I broke my foot (but that’s another story), I had already eliminated some of the word problem variations.  Here’s what I wrote: “Naïve to think I could do them all… hard and easy array problems, array versus area problems, measurement versus non-measurement, [and] compare problems.”  And that’s not even changing the location of the unknown in the problems, which makes a huge difference in complexity.

Well.

I think I will continue to create the assessments as a complete mapping of the CCSS-M (including all word problem variations) because it is a way for me to more deeply understand the standards.  However, it’s clear my original (and, apparently, naive) idea of creating a series of assessments that would illuminate concepts not mastered in previous math classes, and that would be practical to give students, is in need of some rethinking.

Advertisements

First Grade Assessments

1_Verbal_Assessment    1_Written_Assessment

You’ll immediately notice two things about the first grade assessments: They contain fewer pictures and MANY more word problems than the Kindergarten assessments.   First grade does not include the Counting and Cardinality domain or as many other standards that require pictures, such as classifying by color and recognizing shapes.  In the future, I might illustrate the word problems by including a picture of what the problem is about, e.g., use a picture of a toy car if the problem is about toy cars.  But for now, since this is a draft, I will leave it as is.

You may be wondering why there are so many more word problems.  If you read my Kindergarten Word Problems post, you know the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics document contains a table that describes four categories of word problems.  When you consider all cases and versions, there are 15 types of word problems listed.  (This does not cover all types of word problems, just the basic ones of adding, subtracting, and comparing.)  It seems to me a student cannot truly be proficient until she can solve every possible type of word problem; therefore, I have included 12 word problems in the first grade assessment.

Twelve?!?  Shouldn’t that be 15?  Hmm…perhaps I got tired.  I’ll have to fix that later.  In any event, this is a huge increase in the number of word problems (from 2 to 12).  As a result, I will most likely distribute them throughout the assessment before I use it.

For each word problem. I included a description that maps directly to the table in the Common Core standards.  For example, question 12 is described as “word problems within 20, comparing, smaller unknown, ‘more’ .”  If you are so inclined, you can use these descriptions to figure out which word problem types are not represented.

A Non-CCSS Question?

You may have noticed a question in the written Kindergarten assessment that did not map directly to the Common Core State Standards.  It was the last one:  What number goes in the box?  4 + 5 = ▢ + 6.  I added this problem as a result of reading a 1999 article entitled “Children’s Understanding of Equality:- A Foundation for Algebra” [1].  (See link in blogroll.)

What caught my eye in this article is this:  When 145 sixth graders were given the problem 8 + 4 = ▢ + 5, none of them answered it correctly.

Most of the students said “12” should go in the box, indicating they view the equal sign as “a signal to do something” rather than “as a symbol describing a relationship” ([1], p. 236).  So, students are thinking, “eight plus four equals twelve and then we want to add five to it,” instead of “what plus five equals eight plus four.”

I was surprised, until I realized I have seen similar thinking in the work of high school students. When solving a multi-step problem, a student will write and solve one equation, and then – as if forgetting about everything to the left of the equal sign – continue the solution by building onto the right side of the equation.  Of course, this makes the equation no longer true.  Here is an example I created to illustrate what I mean:

004 Equality Misconception

The beginning of the solution – using the formula for the area of a triangle – is just fine.  But multiplying the result by 6, while necessary to determine the area of the regular hexagon, makes the equation untrue.

I think these students know the difference and they are just being careless.  But … maybe not. Maybe they have fundamental misconceptions about equality.  That’s one of the things I hope to find out when I give these assessments.

References:

[1]  Falkner, K. P., Levi, L., & Carpenter, T. P. (December 1999).  “Children’s understanding of equality:- A foundation for Algebra. Teaching Children Mathematics, 232 – 236.  Retrieved from http://ncisla.wceruw.org/publications/articles/AlgebraNCTM.pdf