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Sunday, December 4, 2016

PARCC 2016 Released Math Items: Standardized Test Vocabulary

Now for a further look into those newly released math test PARCC questions and answers...

4th Grade, Standard: 4.NBT.4-2

What is the value of the expression shown?  
               5,736 - 4,859
A. 1,877
B. 1,123
C. 977
D. 877                           
                                                    PARCC released math item #8, Spring 2015

So, my question to you is:  Do you ever used the words value and expression with your students in the manner illustrated by this question?
Do your students know the difference between an equation and an expression?

I've seen first hand the difficulty that second-language learners have with some of the wording in standardized test, even though I know they are capable of solving the necessary calculations.  

I discussed working with one question at a time to teach your students to make connections between the concepts you are teaching and the way standardized test ask questions about those same concepts in my last blog post. So here is an idea:
What if your showed your students this question while you are studying multi-digit subtraction, and said, " I know you understand how to subtract with regrouping, so today let's just focus on what the question is asking us." (Write the question on the whiteboard)

 What is the value of the expression shown?  
                                               answer of a calculation             math phrase combining numbers and operations    

  In math, value is a number signifying the result of a calculation or function.
 So under the word "Value" I might write the answer/result of a calculation., or a student-friendly definition that explains the word. I would continue discussing "expression" and even "shown".
Next, we would read the question inserting our own words:
"What is the answer of this subtraction calculation, 5,736 - 4,859 = ?" 
"So, now that we know what they are asking us to do, we can start working on solving this problem."

Then, I would give a mini-mini-lesson that talks about the importance of understanding the question before you try to calculate an answer.

If you think this is not necessary, then consider the wording on this problem:
"Drag and drop the numbers and a symbol into the boxes to show an equation that represents the statement "161 is 7 times as many as 23." PARCC released item #19, Spring 2015

**Added on 12/8/16   Hmmmm.... I did a little brainstorming to come up with a worksheet fold-able that would help teachers discuss the released math items with their students. It looks like this:

I wrote a complete blog post about this fold-able. read it HERE.

Join the discussion of this idea, by leaving a comment in the comment area of this blog.

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