Monday, November 8, 2010

CCSS Practices: SMP # 6 - Attend to Precision!

SMP # 6: Attend to Precision

One of the CCSS Mathematical practices addresses the issue of: Attend to Precision. In this Standard for student practice ... teachers are expected to create lesson design elements that ensure mathematically proficient students:

1) Communicate precisely to others (including fellow students)

2) Use clear definitions of terms in discussing their reasoning

3) Express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context.

Recall that the SMP's for the CCSS were generated from the early work of NCTM in 1990 with the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards (followed by the PSSM in 2000) as well as by Adding It up from the National Research Council. A document used by NCTM in 1991 helps to focus the issue of precision even today and is attached if you click here. The document defines a Computation Model and makes the point that almost every mathematical problem – ends in computation. There needs to be student:

1) Recognition of the need to compute exists in those problems: does the teacher have Exact or Estimate Answer Expectations?
2) Recognition of precision depending on teacher expectations for Mental Math, Paper and Pencil or Computer Calculator expectations? (M^2, P^2 or C^2?)
3) Recognition of whether the Solution fits the problem context? Is it sensible?
In addition, SMP #6 expects increased levels in the precision of language used by students to discuss solutions and conjectures to problems. This can only happen as problems are posed to students in ways that allow for that type of discussion to take place.
I'll discuss this issue in more detail in a later post...

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