Entry 16 – Why I Put the Answers on My Most Recent Math Test

Entry 16 – Why I Put the Answers on My Most Recent Math Test

Last week I gave a test in Pre-Algebra assessing their ability to perform all the operations when working with rational numbers.  In my previous post, I talked about how I typically have not let students use calculators on this unit but I did this year.  Then I thought, ‘well why not take the power away from the calculator and just give them the answer and have them show me that they know how to get to that answer.’  The plan was solidified when I was listening to a math education podcast and the guest talked about doing the exact same thing (see his post on it here)!

I wanted to see if students knew what was going on with fractions; did they know how to convert to improper, find common denominators, keep their integer rules in mind, multiply by the reciprocal, etc.

Some students dug it:

I liked being able to make sure I was doing it right by having the right answer there.

Some students didn’t:

I was doing it wrong and couldn’t get the right answer but I couldn’t just move on because I knew it was wrong!  It was almost worst like that!

One issue I was running into was that some students were working backwards from the answer, but unable to show how they would have done it if they didn’t know the actual answer.  For example:

right answers

**don’t mind that scribbled out part that say $82.55.  I accidentally put the wrong ‘right’ answer on the test and had students fix it**

This student figured out Rena’s savings by working backwards from the final amount.  I’m wondering if she knew to multiply $25.40 by 3/4 to get 19.05 (or divide $25.40 by 4 and subtract that quotient as one student did).  She didn’t lose many points from this but wasn’t able to clearly show how to find the right answer in absence of the right answer.

This may not work for every test but I think I will experiment more with it.


This last week of school the students will be getting their presentations ready for robotics.  On Friday, they did a showcase of their project and allowed other people to play around with their robot.  I didn’t make a vlog of this one but was pretty impressed with a couple of the projects.  One student built a simple video game on the computer and then made a robot that could beat the level.  Another student made a 3-finger’s claw that he put on his own hand and was able to open and close at will.  Another student created a spirograph (found some building instructions online but had to improvise a bit on his own build).  I’ve included a couple videos I took from the day.



In other news, I made a YouTube Channel trailer; a short 30-second video that shows what my YouTube channel is all about.  I’m happy with how it turned out and has got me thinking about making a sort of ‘year in review’ video that’s similar.


I’m all done with tests and all with Pre-Algebra so this week we are just going to play around with these virtual mobiles to begin exploring solving equations, which we’ll start when we get back.  It looks like this:


I’m also going to have students give to the charity of their choice in the classroom economy right before the Christmas season.  The previous link goes to a video I made on how I set it up earlier in the semester.  I’ll make a video later this week on the logistics of actually giving to the charities.  My 6th grade math class is finishing up their unit on number theory (primes/composites/divisibility/lcm/gcf).  They have a blog reflection they’ll be doing as well as a test (without answers) at the end of the week.  I’ve tried something new with my Pre-Algebra blogs this time and students will be turning those in Monday.  I’ll share what I did and how it went in the next reflection.  Happy last week!

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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