Monday, June 2, 2008

How to earn high grades in Reform Math

I just got back from a parent-teacher conference with my daughter's 1st grade teacher in which, following my earlier bafflement, I finally learned the answer to this question.

-It's not enough to get the right answer.  (Trivial, since Reform Math math is so easy).

-It's not enough to be mathematically advanced.  (Teachers don't assess skills that exceed the low, state-mandated standards).

What matters is whether/how you explain your answers.

We're talking about problems like 7 + 8.

You can say things like:  

I subtracted 1 from the 8 to make it 7, and then added 7 and 7 to get 14, because I know my doubles, and then added 1 to get 15.

or

I added 1 to the 7 to make it 8, and then added 8 and 8 to get 16, because I know my doubles, and then subtracted 1 to get 15.

But you can't say:

I just know that 7 + 8 is 15 because I've done this problem so many times that I've memorized the answer.

Apparently, my daughter is now providing acceptable explanations--if not about how she actually solved the problem, then about how she would have solved the problem had she not been stricken with that unfortunate side-effect of repeated exposure to addition problems.

Namely, rote memorization of addition facts.

2 comments:

Nancy Bea Miller said...

This having to tediously explain self-evident facts has been the bane of my kid's math experience, too. And they are not even math geniuses like your kids are Lefty!

lefty said...

Thanks NB! I'm not sure if my kids are really math genuises; I suspect a LOT of smart kids, like yours very much are, are bored with this. Who knows, maybe most kids are? I'm interested to hear more...