When her teachers aren't smart enough to see that their problems are flawed - Page 4 - Mothering Forums

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#91 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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I think there is an art to understanding the perspective of others. I think that a lot of people who "overthink" problems are skipping context.

I think an important aspect of intelligence is being able to understand things clearly. I get that she's only in kindergarten, and that it can be hard to get that stuff so young, but it's never too early to start learning.

However we want to discuss it, there is a clear, expected answer. Is the answer wrong (perhaps). If it isn't clear to anyone in particular what the answer is, then working on understanding the perspective of others would be something to practice.

We had lunch with friends the other day. We were telling them that my DH was installing new countertops in our kitchen. My friend, said, "you know how to do THAT?" I understood, by knowing who my friend is and who my husband is and the way she asked that she misunderstood what we were doing. I was able to answer her question with the way we were doing it - removing the old counters, not re-laminating the current ones, and totally clarified it for her. We could have just answered "yes," and she would have gone with a false assumption that we were doing things that were out the scope of our talents, but I could quickly asses the situation and simplify.

A lot of questions in the world are not complete at face value. Nearly everything has a context. If we consider the context of a question it clarifies the question.

Theoretica - that's funny.

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#92 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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I agree with much of what has been said about ambiguity and the difficulty in answering such questions. But as someone who tends to see through ambiguities like this easily I just wanted to explain how I do that, because I think it's a useful strategy to explain to children. My point of reference is "what is the person who posed this question trying to evaluate about my knowledge?" If I can figure out why the question was posed, that usually tells me what assumptions to make when things are unclear.

So in the case of the duck question, I would figure "This is likely a question designed to gauge my understanding of subtraction. It is not part of a science and nature unit, so it's probably not about the water-repellent properties of ducks' feathers. And since no other information is given and one correct answer is expected, it's not a critical thinking question designed to assess my ability to think laterally and see alternative viewpoints."

So when my kids encounter an ambiguous question in their math workbooks, I always congratulate them for being broad enough in their thinking to see the ambiguity, but then I ask them "Why is this question here?" And they answer something like "Obviously to give more practice at long division. So I guess I have to assume that there were in fact exactly enough crayons to give everyone 18. Otherwise you can't answer the question."

My newly-7yo gets this at a basic level. I asked her the duck question and she said "Is it a math question or a brain-teaser question?" and when I said math, she said "then three."

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#93 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 06:24 PM
 
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If they'd just asked "are in the water" instead of "are wet" it would've been fine.

E.g. "Five ducks are playing at the seaside. Some ducks are on the beach and some are in the water. If two of the ducks are on the beach, how many are in the water?"
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#94 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 08:11 PM
 
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Here's another one for you. My dd (1st grade) brought home a test yesterday on light in which the teacher had made a mistake in grading and I pointed it out.

She was surprised that my dd got the "moon" question correct.

The moon is a light source. True or False

This question sparked a debate that is still going on today about the correct answer and wording of the question.
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#95 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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I say true. It was absolutely a source of light......

Oh. Crud. The moon reflects the sun's light doesn't it? Then it is no more a source than a mirror or lake....hmmm.....
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#96 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 09:21 PM
 
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Yep, that was exactly the debate.

We decided it is a secondary source of light as it does not produce the light, it just reflects it.

The teacher tells us the answer is false. Even though my dd got the answer the teacher was looking for, I still think the question is worded poorly.

Like my father was debating last night, "I can do work outside by moonlight," LOL.
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#97 of 107 Old 02-06-2010, 10:00 PM
 
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I would personally find it interesting and amusing and discuss dd's logic with her privately. I may tell the teacher how dd came up with her answer, but I wouldn't really feel the need to belabor the point with the teacher. Not saying you did that-- Just sayin'.
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#98 of 107 Old 02-07-2010, 12:07 AM
 
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This is why I hated these word problems when I was a kid. I was very sarcastic and very literal, and always looking for loopholes. When asked about Bob and Jane driving toward each other and how long it would take for them to pass each other, I once answered "depends on traffic" (and I might add, I once answered the "find X" problem the same way as in the link Theoretica posted). I got in trouble a lot growing up for that kind of stuff. Sometimes I just didn't want to work the problem, sometimes I felt insulted that they didn't care enough to word the problem better. Sometimes, I honestly thought that was what they wanted. I thought they were like those trick questions people like to play with "Johnny's mom has four kids, Penny, Nickel and Dime. Who's the fourth kid?"

The question was worded horribly. Not enough information was provided to find an answer. I also find it annoying that a teacher would actually be proud of stumping a kid with poorly worded math problems. Their job is to educate, not confuse. Especially kindergartners.

This is why I want to homeschool.

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#99 of 107 Old 02-08-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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I haven't read all the replies, but I'm another one who was MAD about this kind of thing as a kid. I DID ask questions, and would get the answer of "well, just pick the best guess." Whatever. I didn't HAVE a best guess; all the answers could have been right. Sometimes I felt none of them could be.

Definately teach her how to play the game. Tell her what they teachers are trying to do, and encourage her to ask questions if she is not sure. The point is for her to be learning, not to be discouraged for thinking.

We homeschool and stuff like this comes up with my dd all the time. I just say, "Why did you say that?" And almost always, I discover her error was because of my poor explaination.

I would also encourage her to be proactive about her work. When she gets a paper back with a question marked wrong, she should go to the teacher and ask why it is wrong.

That's the best I have to offer. I just remember being mad most of the time about it. I felt like I was being submitted to a poor education and that no college would ever accept me. Turns out, college was just as bad...maybe worse.

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#100 of 107 Old 02-12-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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I think a lot of people have done a good job of pointing out what a poorly worded question that was, so I won't add anything there.
OP, my concern is really in your post where you describe the picture your dd drew to answer the question. I am a teacher, and while I try my best to avoid asking unclear questions, I am also human and make mistakes, and sometimes I'm required to have students answer certain questions, even if I see that they're horribly constructed. BUT- the picture you describe very clearly shows why your dd answered "all." If I were the teacher, I would have looked at the picture, laughed, marked it correct, and written a comment like, "that's an interesting way of looking at things." Maybe not for your kindergarten dd to actually read, but definitely for the parent or just for myself, as a reminder if I looked at the paper later. If I had the time I would have taken it to your dd and asked, "how many ducks are in the water right now?" just to make sure she got the concept (5-2=3) that the question was supposed to be checking for.
Point being, the one thing I would not have done is mark it incorrect and show it to the parent as a sign that their child could be "stumped." I'm concerned about the quality of those teachers. That sucks, especially since you put her in private school for the very purpose of having better teachers.
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#101 of 107 Old 02-12-2010, 01:31 PM
 
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I agree with PP. Sometimes, as a teacher, I will come across a student's paper that makes me realize there's more than one correct answer to my question. If their explanation makes sense and produces a different answer, I'll mark it correct, or at least give partial credit for it.

Another note- you don't always want to tell your child to come the conclusion that is the simplest or the one "they want," because questions like this are very often brain teasers that are trying to *make* you think of the non-obvious answer! Those are the higher-order thinking skills type questions.

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#102 of 107 Old 02-13-2010, 03:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by kap728 View Post
OP, my concern is really in your post where you describe the picture your dd drew to answer the question. I am a teacher, and while I try my best to avoid asking unclear questions, I am also human and make mistakes, and sometimes I'm required to have students answer certain questions, even if I see that they're horribly constructed. BUT- the picture you describe very clearly shows why your dd answered "all." If I were the teacher, I would have looked at the picture, laughed, marked it correct, and written a comment like, "that's an interesting way of looking at things." Maybe not for your kindergarten dd to actually read, but definitely for the parent or just for myself, as a reminder if I looked at the paper later. If I had the time I would have taken it to your dd and asked, "how many ducks are in the water right now?" just to make sure she got the concept (5-2=3) that the question was supposed to be checking for.
Point being, the one thing I would not have done is mark it incorrect and show it to the parent as a sign that their child could be "stumped." I'm concerned about the quality of those teachers. That sucks, especially since you put her in private school for the very purpose of having better teachers.
kap728: Yes, it concerns me, too. I would caution that a child like mine would have no trouble reading your comment, but the response you suggested when talking to her IS what I would have expected. I'm frustrated because I don't know what to do about it but wait and see if anything else comes to my attention.

To top it off, her progress report came home with all skills marked "mastered" in reading, writing, and math EXCEPT subtraction. So then I was REALLY wondering if they thought she couldn't subtract. So, I let some time go by and found a fun activity sheet for dd to do with subtraction on it and she told me "I can't do subtraction." Yikes! I totally expect bumps in the road and ups and downs with confidence, but I thought that response was really sad. My plan is to give her some time and throw some things in there for play. She excitedly plays at addition with her little sister. She can absolutely do the single-digit subtraction they're doing in school (annd more). She's been playing with it for years. I KNOW she gets it. I worry that she was wounded by her teachers' comments. She won't tell me what they said to her, but she clearly seemed sensitive about the topic and I haven't wanted to bring it up with her again (I only talked to her about it that one time).
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#103 of 107 Old 02-16-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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kap728: Yes, it concerns me, too. I would caution that a child like mine would have no trouble reading your comment, but the response you suggested when talking to her IS what I would have expected. I'm frustrated because I don't know what to do about it but wait and see if anything else comes to my attention.

To top it off, her progress report came home with all skills marked "mastered" in reading, writing, and math EXCEPT subtraction. So then I was REALLY wondering if they thought she couldn't subtract. So, I let some time go by and found a fun activity sheet for dd to do with subtraction on it and she told me "I can't do subtraction." Yikes! I totally expect bumps in the road and ups and downs with confidence, but I thought that response was really sad. My plan is to give her some time and throw some things in there for play. She excitedly plays at addition with her little sister. She can absolutely do the single-digit subtraction they're doing in school (annd more). She's been playing with it for years. I KNOW she gets it. I worry that she was wounded by her teachers' comments. She won't tell me what they said to her, but she clearly seemed sensitive about the topic and I haven't wanted to bring it up with her again (I only talked to her about it that one time).
Ugh. This makes me so sad. I think some teachers don't realize the power they have. What may seem like an off-handed comment to them has the potential to be life-changing for a sensitive child. I was one of those kids. My 3rd grade teacher really disliked me for some reason and the effects of her treatment lasted through many years of school for me.

I'm not sure what the best course of action would be, but I think you should do something. Maybe tell them exactly what you said here about her sudden lack of confidence? Maybe involve the principal? I think they need to see what they've done to her and be prevented fom doing it to anyone else.
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#104 of 107 Old 02-16-2010, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh, I'm not looking forward to it, but I think I will ask to speak to her teachers again. If that doesn't elicit a satisfactory response I will talk to the equivalent of her principal. I know she would understand, but I don't want to cross her teachers.
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#105 of 107 Old 02-21-2010, 12:38 AM
 
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I was trying to figure out what is expected of 1st graders, and I ran across these word problems on a math worksheet:

"Sam ate 7 cookies and Jane ate 2 cookies. How many more candy canes did Sam eat than Jane?"

"You have to share you 8 candies with your sister. How many will each of you get?"


For the first one of course the answer is how the heck should I know. For the second I'm thinking 7 for me and 1 for my sister. This was 2 question out of 5 that had no "right" answer.

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#106 of 107 Old 02-21-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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I was trying to figure out what is expected of 1st graders, and I ran across these word problems on a math worksheet:

"Sam ate 7 cookies and Jane ate 2 cookies. How many more candy canes did Sam eat than Jane?"
:
it must be one of those deep existential questions.

or maybe a test for psychic ability

nothing more to say I guess :
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#107 of 107 Old 02-24-2010, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was trying to figure out what is expected of 1st graders, and I ran across these word problems on a math worksheet:

"Sam ate 7 cookies and Jane ate 2 cookies. How many more candy canes did Sam eat than Jane?"

"You have to share you 8 candies with your sister. How many will each of you get?"


For the first one of course the answer is how the heck should I know. For the second I'm thinking 7 for me and 1 for my sister. This was 2 question out of 5 that had no "right" answer.

Thanks for sharing!
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