I'm working very hard with my second graders to improve their responses to the Open Response questions in the Unit Assessments for Everyday Math. The questions seem to be so difficult, that they usually don't get the answer, let alone know how to describe their thinking.

I have a few questions:
Does anyone have any tips on how to approach these? How do you introduce them, etc?

Does anyone have a graphic organizer that helps kids formulate their responses?

Does anyone know of a resource for similar questions that could be used for practice?

At PD, they recommended using the 1st grade EM open responses to model, but it seems those are significantly easier and I would like to model with questions that are just as tricky in order to scaffold. Any thoughts would be really appreciated!

the open response questions for ED math are way too hard for second graders! There is actually a Scholastic Book (I am not at school so I don't remember the exact title) about writing about math. I have used some of these questions. I have found that the questions in everyday math use language that is confusing (even I have some trouble understanding what they want)--the cookie question and the train question are way too hard!

We have looked at the grade 1 open response questions and are trying to adapt them to fit second grade.

In the meantime, have you tried maybe instead of using them to grade, use them more as a lesson in how to answer an open response question? I have made overheads of the questions and we have talked about how we would answer them as I model. For math writing though, I sometimes use the portfolio suggestions that are found in the math lessons. If you want, I can send you some of the questions we have used. Just let me know.

It's good to know that my kids are not alone in their frustration over these. And yes! The train and the brownie questions are so hard!

I'll look around at Scholatic for that book. I know some people use Read it! Draw it! Solve it! I would like to know more about what level of questions are used in this book.

I just noticed the portfolio suggestions in the TE. I think that would be a much better way to assess their Math writing. I would love to see the questions you use, if you don't mind! Thanks!

this week, but I brought home my folder of writing prompts. The scholastic book is call "Marvelous Math Writing Prompts". I have adapted some of their questions, which I would be glad to send via email. Also, do you have access to the Grade 1 Assessment Guide from ED Math? We have been looking at some of the questions, specifically from Units 2, 3, 5, 8, and 9. The one from unit 9 shows a number grid puzzle which I think goes along nicely with the #grid OR response from grade 2 (Unit 1 or 2)--again, I thought that question from grade 2 was too confusing for most of my students. But we have been working on adapting some of these questions. This summer, we are looking at the rubrics that go along with the OR questions. The problem in our district is that writing about Math is on our report card, but no one wants to tell us specifically what our students should be able to do! We have a math specialist that only works with grades 3-6 because grade 2 is not an MCAS grade! As you can probably sense, this is a source of some frustration for me!

I would LOVE the adapted prompts! I have been searching but can't seem to find what I'm looking for. I just went to a EM Study Group on Writing in Mathematics and the woman (from U of C) was saying the reason so many kids find the ER's so difficult it is usually the only exposure to writing about Math they get in the unit. They need be writing at least once or twice a week in response to a problem. The ER's combine very difficult problem solving with written response, so it's a huge challenge for kids who aren't used to writing in Math.

She said that she would do the extended responses like this: Divide the class into ability based groups. This is to ensure that no child is "talked over" and that each child is contributing his/her thoughts to the problem solving process (and this way, the problem differentiates itself. the low kids can work to the best of their ability, and so on). Give them the "Math Mission" (each unit's extended response) and a piece of chart paper. Have them work together to show their work with drawings, number models, change diagrams, etc. Then, have the group do a shared writing of how they found their answer (or i guess once the problem is solved, they can each write independently). This way, you're scaffolding their learning rather than throwing them into the deep end. You're trying to make them successful, rather than waiting for them to fail. I'm going to try it with the fraction open response and see how it goes (it's a hard one!).

She also said, one of the biggest oversights in teaching writing in Math, is that in order for the writing to be successful, the answer has to be correct. She pointed out that if a child solves the initial problem incorrectly, but is able to articulate in writing how they solved it, then they are getting the idea, and it can be a powerful tool in assessing where their thinking was "off" and what skills they need to practice.

Sorry! This was so long. It was just a very insightful PD!

of the Math Prompts I have used. I have never used a graphic organizer (except for a Venn Diagram for the shapes question) but now I will look at how I can do that. I like your idea of scaffolding but really many of those grade 2 questions are difficult (my colleagues and I have had to sit and really think about how a 2nd grader would go about answering them)

Before we even start the unit, my grade level looks at the open response question at the end. We discuss what the students need to know and be able to do so they can answer the problem. We create problems that allow them to practice these skills as we do the unit. We have them do them as a group, as partners and finally by themselves. As we do the practice problems, the kids share their strategies and explanations. I think we changed some of the problems (I know we changed the one with the doubling pennies) because we felt it didn't address our state standards and/or it was too difficult.

Have you tried using the Everyday Math learning community? they have videos of other teachers' lessons and kids doing the open response questions. It might help your students.