# They're kidding, right?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by schoolteacher, Apr 24, 2010.

1. ### schoolteacherHabitué

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Apr 24, 2010

No, they're not.

This really is a question on a second grade math test in Everyday Math, Unit 10 (it's an open response question):

Julian has 10 coins. Sue has 5 coins. There is a total of 4 quarters.
Sue has more than \$1. Sue's coins are worth twice as much as Julian's coins.

Show Julian's ten coins. Use P, N, D, or Q.

Show Sue's ten coins. Use P, N, D, or Q.

Let me explain that this type of problem has never been encountered before while using this text. Students have never been exposed to anything like this.

Now please show me the second grader who can do this. Oh, I know there are some that can. There might even be one or two in my class who can. But to count this as 20 points on a second grade math test is absurd.

3. ### czaczaMultitudinous

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Apr 24, 2010

I've tutored kids whose school used EveryDay Math...I'm glad my district doesn't...I didn't ever see anything like the question you posted in the work I did with my tutor kids.

4. ### TamiJVirtuoso

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Apr 24, 2010

That math question just gave me a headache.

5. ### mmswmModerator

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Apr 24, 2010

It gave me a headache, and I'm a math teacher :lol:

All joking aside, it's not a difficult problem...for a high schooler. How it's appropriate for 2nd grade is beyond my comprehension.

6. ### MrsCMultitudinous

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Apr 24, 2010

Appropriateness for 2nd grade aside, why would there be a question on a math test that isn't like anything the students have encountered before?

7. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Apr 24, 2010

I could see an extension activity, maybe, though putting it on the actual test is more than slightly much.

8. ### YoungTeacherGuyPhenom

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Apr 24, 2010

Um...I'm sure there are a lot of teachers (including ME!) who would really need to stop and think long and hard about the answer to this question!!!

I can just imagine giving this type of problem to my GATE students. They'd probably all be in tears because they'd be so frustrated!

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...This is not age appropriate nor is it grade-level appropriate.

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Apr 24, 2010

We just gave this test too. We eliminated the alst requirement about Sue having double Julian. Even then we had 4 out of 30 come up with a correct solution.
Our district math person has suggested taking these off the test and doing them whole class. The extended response is harder than those on the 3rd grade state test.

10. ### stephenpeConnoisseur

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Apr 24, 2010

Math people, are there multiple solutions or just
Sue with 4Q 1D and Julian 5D and 5P.
Who writes these textbooks and tests for little kids, morons?

11. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Apr 24, 2010

Nope. Writers, not teachers.

When I freelanced and wrote a section, it was clear that they wanted a writer, not a teacher. The perspective was all about how the book should LOOK, not about a lot of problems of increasing difficulty.

12. ### eclRookie

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Apr 24, 2010

That is why I strongly believe that elementary school teachers should be required to take more college level math courses, and pass a more difficult math test in order to become certified.

If an elementary school teacher finds this question difficult, then how can they be expected to adequately teach math concepts to the students in their charge? Teachers need to have a deeper understanding of the math concepts that they are teaching, or they will be unable to grasp the best way to present the material to their students.

I am quite sure this is an unpopular opinion, and that I will be slammed for it.

Second graders could certainly be taught steps to answer this problem, starting out with easier numbers and using scaffolding to build it up to higher numbers and more complexity. But I agree with the original poster that putting this on a test without any familiarity with this type of problem is absurd.

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Apr 24, 2010

If you think you will be slammed for saying it then you shouldn't say it. I'm tired of teachers being slammed, period. Lighten up. JMHO.

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Apr 24, 2010

I won't slam you, I won't even entirely disagree with you... I'm sure that with a lot of time and scaffolding, second graders could be taught this problem. I also think that if we are spending our time teaching kids how to do problems like this, we are going to lose time teaching many of the basic building blocks of Mathematics.

15. ### mathematicsRookie

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Apr 24, 2010

True, but shouldn't problem solving be considered one of the basic building blocks of mathematics?

As far as only saying things that other people will agree with - that would make for a very dull forum, one that does not stimulate discussion and debate on educational issues.

Discussion and opposing points of view help us to sort out our ideas, and to think over our opinions and priorities. These are good things.

Simply saying things to agree with a popular majority shows a lack of courage in your beliefs.

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Apr 24, 2010

I agree wholeheartedly that problem solving should be considered one of those basic building blocks, but I think the problems should be at an appropriate level, and I don't think this particular problem is at an appropriate level.

As far as the rest of your post, I agree 100% as well. I believe the post you are referring to was the post prior to mine.

17. ### AliceaccMultitudinous

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Apr 24, 2010

If the material in the book had included similar problems, it might be a valid question. It doesn't sound as though that's the case.

Why not make up your own test, based on the material you covered in class? I don't understand why teachers use tests that don't coincide with the classwork.

18. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Apr 24, 2010

There's a difference, however, mathematics, between noting that one's opinion may be unpopular (which concedes, unremarkably, that disagreement is likely to exist among reasonable adults) and declaring that expressing it WILL get one "slammed" (which connotes that any disagreement will ipso facto be persecution). I rather think that this was MsDeb's point, and there's something to it.

19. ### MrsCMultitudinous

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Apr 24, 2010

I have never understood this, either.

20. ### schoolteacherHabitué

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Apr 24, 2010

We are required by our district to use the unit tests. They count as 50% of the math report card grade. I am not impressed with this math program, but I am required to follow it - there is a planning and scheduling time line that I have to adhere to.

I also agree with this.

21. ### GroverCohort

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Apr 24, 2010

How would you teach the math concepts behind this problem? Or just describe the concepts?

22. ### jenneke607Rookie

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I agree that elementary school teachers need to have a deeper understanding of the mathematics for teaching (MKT). Unfortunately, that understanding does not always come from taking higher level math classes in college. Liping Ma did a fascinating study with comparing US teachers and Chinese teachers, discerning whether they have a "profound understanding of fundamental mathematics" (PUFM -- note that this is different than a profound understanding of higher mathematics). The US teachers routinely had more years of higher education, while several Chinese teachers who passed through the equivalent of 8th grade before entering teacher prep managed to have a more 'profound' understanding of elementary/middle school math. Check out Ma's Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics (1999).

I was talking with a doctoral student the other day who teaches a 'content area' course on mathematics for preservice elementary teachers. It sounds like he teaches middle-school level concepts in great depth, using multiple representations, emphasizing flexible mathematical reasoning and the process standards. I would rather have elementary teachers take his course than differential equations or complex analysis, which will teach them MORE math, but will not necessarily have them learn the math they need to know for teaching better. (Not that there's anything wrong with taking higher level math courses!)

As for the Everyday Math problem described... I'm a little surprised that's a 2nd grade problem. It's not impossible for 2nd graders, but there are a lot of constraints. Often I see similarly staged problems that are more open ended, like what jday129 described with cutting out the idea that the value of Julian's coins are half the value of Sue's. But then again, I haven't spent much time looking at EDM for primary grades. I actually like that there are sometimes problems in a slightly new context or representaiton on EDM assessments. If students cannot apply their knowledge to a new situation, how well did they truly learn it the first time around? (That said, it shouldn't be something SO wild and new that it's difficult to apply.)

23. ### jenneke607Rookie

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Apr 24, 2010

Assuming that the students are comfortable with the different values of coins, and adding them...

I would spend most of my time on this problem prompting students to think about what they know. Sometimes I use a KWC chart (from Arthur Hyde's Comprehending Math (2006), which is similar to a KWL chart. K = What we know; W = what we want to know, and C = constraints or conditions. Kids need to list out everything they know, everything they want to know, and constraints (or, as my students often called it, the "yeah, but don't forget about..." section). Then students can start to parse out information. If we know that Sue has 5 coins, and that their value is more than \$1, what we do know about Sue's coins?

These kinds of metacognitive scaffolds are only helpful if students have already received lots of instruction about the underlying concepts. However, I don't think you need to teach them specifically how to solve the problem using formal algebra in the 2nd grade. They should be able to reason through using age-appropriate logic. I sincerely doubt you would have 100% of the class answering this one accurately, though. That's a lot of constraints for a 7-year-old!

24. ### terptoteacherConnoisseur

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Apr 25, 2010

Maybe it's an Everyday Math thing......

Were these types of questions in the math box pages??

I ask because in the first grade EDM, the unit 7 test had nothing to do with the content of unit 7....
Everything on Unit 7 test was covered in the math boxes, but not in the main portions of any of the lessons.

25. ### hac711Companion

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I teach second grade and my rule of thumb is that if i don't get it right away, maybe 1 or 2 students might get it if they work on it. What a stupid question...I had to think about it way too long for it to be on a second grader's test...dumbdumbdumb

26. ### YoungTeacherGuyPhenom

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I took PLENTY of math courses and graduated from college with high honors. I successfully passed all exams required to teach K-8 in California. I'm a GATE teacher, so I have a lot of experience working with higher-level thinkers.

I never said that I couldn't answer the question. I did, however, say that I would need to stop and think about it.

Another thing...if you knew that you would be "slammed" for this, then why would you even respond? Sometimes, the LESS we say, the better off we are! :thumb:

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I don't think the poster was commenting on your level of math ability, but making a general statement about educators. He (or she, I forget) has a valid point. My husband did his math thesis on this. The teacher's level of math ability (based on math courses taken, grades received in math courses, and standardized test scores) directly correlated with both the teacher's self-perception of ability and skills at teaching math, and the students attitudes about math.

Teachers who are not confident and comfortable with basic math skills cause students to grow up with a fear and dislike for math. In his research he found dozen of studies that found this to be true. One he found especially powerful was on fractions. Teachers in elementary tell students that fractions are hard and then aren't able to explain it conceptually. Students then get to high school and can't do algebra because no one ever really explained fractions to them. My husband sees it every year, so he now starts his high school math curriculum by teaching fractions and decimals!

I think poster was not implying that you had not passed the test, but that maybe the tests need to be made more rigorous. I agree, as the level of math we are expecting our elementary students to master gets more complex each year.

The original poster was quite polite, and not snarky at all. I found your posts in reply to be unnecessarily defensive and rude. talking about being "slammed" for something is a fairly common expression, and basically means, "I realize that not everyone agrees with me, so this should start some interesting discussion." Unfortunately, personal attacks have become the norm on the Internet, so people expect them, and then often see them where they are not.

28. ### brosPhenom

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Apr 25, 2010

When they got to this question in the local school district, they decided to eliminate it from the test and teach it to everyone the next day.

29. ### GroverCohort

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jenneke, that seems like a viable approach (always assuming that you really think solving this problem is necessary or appropriate), but I would describe it as a 'mathematical' approach only in the sense that everything can in one form or another be described mathematically. I don't see this as mathematical in the sense of actually describing the process mathematically. Which is not a reason not to do it, but it is a reason not to put it on a second grade math test.

30. ### GroverCohort

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I think you describe the existing situation among teachers pretty well. However, I think that a great deal of the problem lies in the textbooks and programs that schools adopt. No matter what your personal level of math understanding is, if you're constrained by a textbook that presents age-inappropriate topics in an age-inappropriate way and lacks a sound conceptual structure itself, it's very hard to teach math effectively. This is not a question of how rigorous the standards for teachers are, but of how sound the texts and the order of instruction dictated by state standards are.

My mother, by way of extreme example, was a completely math-blocked individual. Numbers over fifty had no real meaning for her, which had some interesting results for our finances. She got 3, count them 3, correct answers on the math section of the GRE. Even random guessing would have produced better results.
On the other hand, she was a very effective elementary math teacher. Besides having deep insights into what made it difficult for many kids to grasp math concepts, she simply used a very effective program that did not demand a deep understanding on her part- or that she do a lot of 'explaining'. Because it was geared to the concrete-operational stage of development that most early elementary students are in, the program produced results with a minimum of teacher direction. None of her students suffered from math phobia, and all were competent by grade 4 in basic algebra and could construct geometric proofs.
So yes, teachers should definitely have a better grasp of math fundamentals than many do- but the real solution lies in methodology.

31. ### YoungTeacherGuyPhenom

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I couldn't have said it better, Grover!

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Everyday Math is awful. Too many concepts, many inappropriate, and not enough time spent on any one skill. "A mile wide, an inch deep."

It has nothing to do with the teacher's grasp on math fundamentals. It has to do with EM being a terrible curriculum.

33. ### halpey1Groupie

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Apr 25, 2010

When I taught 2nd grade, I used to CRINGE at those Open Response questions... seriously, I'm no idiot and I could almost never figure them out without looking in the manual! They are seriously HARD. I used to have my class to them as an OPTIONAL extra credit. Some kids would try and come close, but in all my years teaching 2nd grade I think I had ONE kid get and answer right on ONE question ONCE. They're just ridiculously hard and personally, they make ME feel dumb, so I can only imagine what a 2nd grader would feel like.

34. ### SargeEnthusiast

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Apr 25, 2010

The problem isn't really that hard.

I just gave 4 quarters and a dime to Sue, giving her a total of \$1.10

So then, I needed to make it so that Julian had 55 cents and 10 coins. So he gets one dime and nine nickles.

No algebra was necessary.

The problem is that it's a very poorly worded question. (I'm assuming "show Sue's 10 coins" is a typo that should read "show Sue's 5 coins.")

"There are 4 quarters" should be more specific - "Among both Sue's and Julian's coins, there are four quarters. Sue could have all of them or Julian could have all of them or they could each have some." That is what it means - isn't it?

35. ### MaryhfConnoisseur

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Apr 25, 2010

Include me among those who hate the everyday Math program. I subbed in schools who used it and never grew comfortable with the way it is designed. My son grew up with it and it just made him hate math and he is lousy at it even today. It just wasn't the best for him.

36. ### ToakCohort

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But how would a second grader know to start out with giving Sue all four quarters?

I wouldn't expect a second grader to get this without at least having coin manipulatives to move around as they tried different combinations

37. ### cheerfulfifiRookie

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I just gave that exact same test and for our district, the Open Response question (which is exactly what that question was) is done as a whole class or with partners. I tell students to try their best on it and then later (usually on a flex friday) we go over it together.
I'll admit some of them make me have to stop and think, but those questions are harder on all of the tests. That's why at a second grade level, we work with a partner or as a class to work on how we could possibly answer it.
I would suggest doing this and possibly asking your district math coach (or someone equivalent) if this could be an option.

38. ### jenneke607Rookie

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That's a good point. I actually wouldn't teach a specific mathematical process for solving this problem because that may limit the generalizability of the strategy. Rather, I try to teach a strategy and not a problem. When I teach problem solving, I will teach them explicit strategies -- making a table or chart, or using inverse operations to work backwards, etc. -- but we also compare/contrast the strategies and look for advantages or limitations of each representation. With a problem like the one presented (which, again, is a lot of a 2nd grader to juggle!), I would want to focus on comprehension and organization rather than here's-exactly-the-math-you-use-in-this-situation... because odds are they will not see many problems that are similar. (I mean, I wouldn't have expected them to get that problem, either.)

39. ### demijasmomCompanion

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Apr 25, 2010

People who write the textbooks, are not teachers and have no idea of how children develop. This makes me so mad.

40. ### GroverCohort

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Apr 26, 2010

The largest five coin combination with three quarters would be 95 cents, which is less than a dollar. The problem is solvable, but I wouldn't expect a second grader to get how to go about it without some previous similar experience.

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