## Friday, July 9, 2010

### Wordsmithing

Words again. Yesterday I described how we work with kids so they can clearly describe a problem and clearly state their answers. This is above and beyond understanding the concepts, devising an approach to solve the question, and calculating the answer.

It's the greatest challenge for me when editing math questions - how do we best state the problem. Sometimes we publish a book, get confused readers calling in, and have to change the problems.

For example, in the blog two days ago, I asked, "Q2. How much larger is the copper sphere than the rubber sphere?"

My wife asked, The copper one is smaller, so shouldn't you reword the question to "How much smaller"?

To which I replied, Yes it's smaller but I don't want to tell them that. That gives away the strategy and changes the answer. Let them look at the measurements, figure out a strategy for comparisons, and tell me it's 7/10ths as large.

Of course we can't control whether they pay attention while reading - the teacher is there to help them.

Here are some descriptions extracted from one of our long story problems in the Fourth Grade:

The answer to almost any problem built on this story could be "It depends." We didn't clearly describe the bone count in the skull/face. We did correctly note that the number of bones changes as you grow older and they fuse into fewer, larger bones.

From a technical point of view, this is a very challenging passage to proofread. You would really have to know your skeleton facts to be sure we described things correctly. Did you notice the typographical error in there? I created it on purpose just to see if you would notice. There are a couple format inconsistencies too.

Speaking of noticing, yesterday I changed the background color of the blog from blue to beige. I don't like it so I am changing it back!