Let’s Talk About Answers in Math

Let’s Talk About Answers in Math

A few weeks ago I led elementary  teachers in a PD around answer getting. How many times a day in math class do we hear kids say, “But I got the right answer! Why should I have to explain it?” Think back to when you were in school. All that mattered was the answer. I remember days in high school going through math homework and all we did was go around round robin sharing the answer. If you got the answer correct it was a point, if you got the answer wrong it was no points. It has been drilled into our heads that answers are the only essential piece to math instruction and this is incorrect on many levels.


An anchor chart now hanging in the multipurpose room to remind teachers to focus on the whole process in math.

Phil Daro one of the main authors of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics has a phenomenal video on answer getting. Please take time to listen to the full thing. If you absolutely cannot watch the entire video here is a shortened version.

As you watch reflect on the way that you teach math. I’ll be honest there are still times when I focus on answer getting and I have to consciously stop myself.  Not all the shifts we make as teachers are easy to make but they are necessary. I created two different reflection sheets to use if you would like. Answer Getting PD

Let’s Review: Answers are important in math. I am going to repeat that so you don’t forget. ANSWERS ARE IMPORTANT IN MATH but they are not the whole story. We need to shift students’ focus to the process. There are many ways of doing this. One way that you could start tomorrow is talking about HOW students arrived at an answer.

What are some shifts you are going to make around answer getting in math? What are some math topics you would like to learn more about?