Now, let’s get real and this is an excellent deconstruction of the problem and the answer and the distinctions. Point 1: red ink for corrections is bad unless the mistake is so dramatic one needs fire engines. Try purple or green instead. Answer may be wrong but it is an understable wrong and a teachable moment; Point 2: How many parents would get it right without some help (other than computer/match types) — especially if one does see the correction? Parent may think the child got it all wrong — no, the child has the right idea and the numbers work. What is missing is appreciating that 5 x 3 and 3 x 5 are equal not equivalent, right? Or, better stated, 5 + 5 +5 and 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+ 3 both equal 15 but how you got there is different. Sometimes the process is as important as the right answer; and Point 3: how we communicate with students and create teachable moments goes way beyond correcting the math in red. And, whole worksheet misses opportnities. Yipes. Seriously. How about having kids create a real life analogy where the route to getting to a place/goal/outcome matters? Consider ywo food recipes where you stir in the ingredients in a different order? How about 10 ways to symbolize 15 — all different but still 15 items? How about seeing which is easier to stack vertically — three five inch bars or five three inch bars. I could go on. You get the idea. Oh by the by, the correct answer would explain the answer and eliminate the alternatives fully. Worksheet could have built in this learing if it had space that asked if 5 + 5 +5 and 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+ 3 are the same thing — equal AND equivalent.

We have miles to go to educate our kids meaningfully, robustly, wisely and with grace.

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Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor

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