To make students show how they solved math problems, give them the answer and tell them to explain why it’s right, advises Coach G’s Teaching Tips.
. . . I never saw students more resourceful than they were on assignments where I provided the answers. But that’s not all. The process of working backward from the answer also improves students’ grasp and retention of the material.
When I was in fifth grade, I finished the math work early, as did my classmates who’d been in Mr. Parker’s advanced math group the year before. Since we’d covered sixth-grade math with Mr. Parker — we also had time to learn different number systems and build different kinds of clocks — the fifth-grade teacher gave us a teacher’s edition of a seventh-grade geometry book. Meeting in an unused classroom, the Mr. Parkerites would look up the answers in the back and try to figure out why those answers were right. It was fun.
Update: On Classroom Chuckles:
I had a 4th grader turn in a math test with the following answer:
Q: Explain how you got your answer (to the problem above).
A: “I work my head off.”