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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not the answers I am looking for

Does anyone else experience this?

We're looking at a word problem, for instance one that goes like this: "Timmy has 18 marbles. He gives 5 to Fred and 6 to Becky. How many marbles does Timmy have left?"

I walk around the room to see how the kids are doing. I notice one of them has subtracted 6-5. I ask him, "Please tell me why you have subtracted 6 minus 5 here."

He replies, "So that I could get the right answer."

Undeterred (I've heard this one before, after all), I persist: "But how do you know you were supposed to subtract these numbers?"

He responds, "Because it says, 'Timmy has 18 marbles. He gives 5 to Fred and 6 to Becky. How many marbles does Timmy have left?'"

Ironically, I will get these exact same answers from a child in the next class who has ADDED all three numbers.

No matter how many times I try to tell the kids that reciting the word problem in its entirety does NOT explain how they got their answer -- kids still try it.

Unfortunately, sarcasm is often lost of them, so me trying to turn this around on them usually fails miserably.

"Mister Teacher, why haven't we gone to the computer lab lately?"

"Because we had fried chicken for lunch today."

"Mister Teacher, why can't we go outside for recess today?"

"Because the Pledge says, 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America...'"


Mr. Halpern said...

It must be developmental... my kindergartners just give me a blank stare when I ask they why they've done something... the MOST I ever get is a shrug, but usually just the blank stare... you're kids are at least RESPONDING, albeit, with nonsense, but it's step in the right direction. :)

Mr. W said...

well if it makes you feel better it doesn't go away when they get to high school.

I gave my students a formula for geometric series and there is a negative in it. Some girl raises her hand and says "shouldn't there get a negative there?" I point to the negative and say "that one?" She says "yeah, that one, shouldn't that be a negative?" I look at her and say "it is." This actually went back and forth about 3 times...exact words. Finally, she replies "ok, I was just making sure it was"

huh? WTF?

Mister Teacher said...

Halpey, I get plenty of blank stares, too. And I HATE the shrug as an answer.

Mr. W, it really doesn't make me feel any better, that's just more depressing...

Joni Roscoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HappyChyck said...

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my husband at an antique store that DID make sense:
Me: "Oh, I like this table!"
Him, taking out his tape measure: "Is it the right height?"
Me: "Nope, it's not. It's $500."

Ya'll are just not on the same page with each other. Definitely not speakin' the same language!