Look for the WHY in math constructed response explanations!
When students use the ACE strategy to Answer—Compute– Explain, there shouldn’t be a need to explain HOW they solved a problem, if students show all of their computation steps, with labels. The computation demonstrates HOW they solved the problem. Encourage students to explain WHY they chose the operation they chose, what their numbers mean and WHY the math works. When using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to solve a problem, students can use the following sentence frame to help them tell what the numbers mean and why they added, subtracted, multiplied or divided. When they use the words “to find” they will explain WHY.
I (+,-,x,÷) (what the number represents) to/from/by (what the number represents) TO FIND (what the answer tells you), which was (# answer and unit).
If students do not use computation to solve a problem, they still need to explain the WHY behind their thinking.
In math class, always ask your students to explain the WHY behind their thinking. Having students explain WHY will help you “see their thinking” and it will guide them to a deeper understanding of the mathematics. Always ask, “Why do you think so?” or “Why does that work?” when you are having math discussions. Ask students to construct those viable arguments and to critique the reasoning of others. (SMP3)
Available in the District CIITS Bank: “CCS K-5 Math Constructed Response Bank” - Search for this title and then click on the folder for your grade level. There are many CR questions with exemplar responses in each folder. The ACE Posters are also available in this unit.