Planning to have a plan

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My students were supposed to write out their strategy for solving a story problem. I liked Maria’s plan: “I will multiply or divide.” That was the whole plan.

It’s another version of a plan I come across regularly, one where a student takes numbers and does math to them whether those numbers need to be operated on or not. One exam earlier this year gave two absolute values and asked which one was farthest from zero. Many students triumphed over the problem, but a few simply added, subtracted or multiplied the two numbers without reading the question.

“Hah!” A few students seemed to think. “It’s numbers! I will throw some random math at them! Maybe it will stick!” Or something like that. I really have no clue what these students were thinking when they multiplied the two absolute values for absolutely no reason at all.

Eduhonesty: Teaching has many mysterious moments.