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Monday, April 06, 2015

Math: Justify Your Answer

We'll use this problem first this morning. Then we'll use PARCC sample problems to lead our study.
MCAS tests led us to create a number of graphic organizers to help students learn and practice the skill of explaining their thinking and answering questions with depth and precision.

PARCC presents a somewhat new type of question and perhaps new expectations for best answers with regard to math problem base assessments.

I looked at the online information again to get a deeper idea of expectations.

How do we best help students explain what they know and how they solved a problem using concise mathematical language?

Throughout the year I've been working on this with some success, but today I'll dig deeper using the information we learned from the SRSD approach to writing persuasive essays.

As we work together in class on PARCC sample problems and others, we'll use this template to guide our share.

During the share, we'll discuss how we can concisely explain process and knowledge as we justify answers using mathematical language, numbers, and models. We'll also recognize that the transition words can be bullets, letters, or the words "first, second, third. . ."

As test taking efforts and expectations evolve and our efforts to coach students with regard to explaining their thinking and justifying answers deepens, I'm sure the graphic organizers we find and use will change and grow. I know the aim of this work is to deepen students' ability to understand, manipulate, express, and share their mathematical thinking, and that's a good aim for later math knowledge, skill, concept, and success.

One issue that arises again and again with this kind of teaching is pacing. Some quickly grasp the content while others struggle. Differentiation works, but time is always a challenging factor given the depth and breadth of concepts to cover. This will be a challenge I continue to think about as we reach for deeper, richer math instruction and learning.