Tips please??? On addition, subtraction, mulitiplication problems. Do you have them write the problems on graph paper or something else? This is fourth grade. Thanks.

Almost all of our teachers from grades 1 to 8 use graph paper notebooks for math. As far as showing work, on an assessment, most give marks for each step of the solution, so showing a correct answer, but no work, would seriously impact the mark.

OK, I get that we want them to show how they worked the problem, but do you provide a paper or something? If there isn't room on the actual test, do you just provide scratch paper and hope that you can find the problem? Or do you have them number it? I was wondering if there was a format that you have them use to show their work that you can read...

The problem with mental math is that some students who don't want to do the problem will just put down a number and say they used mental math! Even if you use mental math, you have followed some process and should be able to explain it if necessary on a test. Last year was the first year for me to have students take their math tests online. At first, some students thought that since there wasn't a paper test, they didn't need to do any work on paper. These students tended to fall in two categories: ones who were really good at math and could do the problems in their head and those who would rather take a chance at guessing than write out their work. The ones who could honestly do mental math had no problems showing me on paper when I asked them to show their work. After that first online test, if it was a unit where it was necessary for students to show work, I had the kids fold their graph paper in quarters and number a quadrant for each question on the test. I told them they got two grades for the test: one grade based on the percentage correct, and the second grade (A or F, nothing in between) based on whether or not they showed their work for every single problem. If there was a problem where they honestly did not need to show work, I had them X out that quadrant before the test started. I liked this method because it was easy for me to find the work for each problem because it was in the exact same place on every student's scratch paper. Even if you are giving tests on paper, you can put graph paper, or cut and paste an area of graph paper if you are making your test completely electronically, under each question. This will remind your kids to show their work, and make it easy for you to find the work.

I write my tests so that there is room to show the work on the test. Yes, the test might be a few pages long, and only a few problems, but way easier to grade. When I have had to give district assessments, I have the students fold a piece of paper into 8ths. Then I have the students show their work, one problem in each box.

Try this... Tell students if they get the problem wrong but they got part of the thinking right, they get some credit. If they don't show you the work then you can't give them some credit they deserve. Be sure to model this with an actual problem to show them explicitly what you mean. Then reinforce it each time you do work (don't wait for a test). Be sure you use your words and not just marks on the paper. "Johnny, I can see your thinking was going in the right direction on this part of the problem. I gave you X points because I could tell you understood how to do this. Here's the part where you messed up. Let me help you fix it (work with the student to fix it). I'm glad you showed me what you were thinking Johnny. That helped me to help you and your grade is also higher because I was able to give you some credit for your good thinking!" Do a short conference like this periodically, even when you are just going around helping and monitoring them during independent work time.