Math Teachers: Showing Work?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BumbleB, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Why don't we spin this off into it's own thread then? I'm sure there are other math teachers of all levels who would love to discuss these things!
     
  2. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I agree, I think it's a topic well-worth discussing, especially with Common Core on the horizon (or in your lap, depending on what state you're in).

    Can you split them, or do you want to start a new one?
    If it's the latter, will you start it? I am horribly un-eloquent.....
     
  3. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2013

    I never show my work when I do math in the real world. I just go on my merry way getting the best deals, balancing my checkbook, estimating my mortgage amortization, etc., etc. without ever showing work.

    Perhaps you always have to write stuff down if you're trying to communicate it to other people, but you don't need to show your work when doing math for your own personal purposes in life.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 18, 2013

    Bogus argument, msufan. For every kid who really does know the math well enough to do it right without showing the work, there are ten to a hundred who claim they know the math well enough and don't.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Feb 18, 2013

    And, when solving a problem for one's math teacher, one is, in fact, trying to communicate it to "other people".
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I had a child in fourth grade who was adamant that she did not have to show her work in math. She would not cease in her complaints about having to do such meaningless work. I told her if she made an A on the next math test, she did not have to show work if you thought she could get the correct answer but if she did not, she would show her work and I would not have to hear one word of complaint for the rest of the year. She made a 45. She did keep her end of the bargain.

    And I made her take the test again. She made an A.
     
  7. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2013

    That's a fine argument, but we just need to realize that we're killing some kids' love for math when we do that.

    Actually, the more I think about it, that pretty much sums up everything that's wrong with math instruction: that we think our kids are doing math just to show that they know it for their teacher instead of doing it for real or for themselves in any way.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Feb 19, 2013

    We've moved the "what's wrong with math education" discussion to a different thread.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 19, 2013

    The kids who don't have to show work in lower grades have a difficult time when it comes to algebra I. They are so focused on answers that they don't want to learn to 'translate' into algebraic notation (and thinking). That's been my experience, anyway.
     
  10. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2013

    I teach physics, not math, but want to jump into this discussion. I want students to follow certain problem solving steps when faced with a physics problem. Sketching and diagramming are met with resistance (I model this constantly), but EVERY student organizes and shows their work. There can be multiple ways to solve a problem, so showing work helps me see into a student's mind. My favorite moments are those in which a student has come up with a solution using a method I hadn't previously, so I can add it to my key.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 19, 2013

    I highly doubt that having to show work in and of itself ever killed a child's love of math.
     
  12. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2013

    Exactly. I explain the need to show work to my students in this way: In English or Social Studies you are asked questions and are expected to answer them with justification--hence you will be writing essays.
    In science you are also asked questions that you need to answer with justification. The work you show in the problem solving process serves as your justification for the solution you calculated.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 19, 2013

    You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
    I make them question.
    I make them criticize.
    I make them apologize and mean it.
    I make them write.
    I make them read, read, read.
    I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
    over and over and over again until they will never misspell
    either one of those words again.
    I make them show all their work in math
    and hide it on their final drafts in English.

    --Taylor Mali:thumb:
     
  14. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Feb 19, 2013

    I do require students to show work. Sometimes I know it is for things they can do easily in their head, like adding when solving area and perimeter. But I need to see all of the work to ensure they are the one who is doing the work and that they actually understand the process. On tests, half credit is taken off if they don't show the work on a problem. A lot of them don't like it, but they need to learn to do this.
     
  15. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Feb 19, 2013

    That is quite true for some people. But when learning the material, it is not the best time to take shortcuts and skip showing the work. I do it at times in my classroom, but I also tell students I have mastered these skills. Once they prove they have mastered the skills, I am okay with them skipping steps and not showing all the work.
    I also make occasional mistakes, when I don't show my work. It happens because we all make mistakes, not something we want to do when learning it.
     
  16. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Feb 20, 2013

    I explain to my kiddos that they need to show work precisely because I cannot read their minds. I need to see what they are thinking so I can help them if they are making errors...
     
  17. Barbd

    Barbd Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2013

    To use the proportion problem that was used earlier,
    2/6 = 4/x
    2x = 24
    x=12

    If I was just teaching the students to solve this type of problem, I would expect this to be shown. Or if they were given the problem as 2/6 = 4/x, I would expect the full work shown.

    On the other hand, if the students had to come up with the original proportion on their own (say in a geometry problem), I would accept
    2/6 = 4/x
    x=12

    It's a matter of what you are testing and the level of the students. Sometimes, I'll specifically ask students to show more because I have identified problems in arithmetic or multiplication (when teaching the higher maths). I cannot correct an error in thinking if I can't identify it.
     

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