Colin had a math problem for homework the other day:
Emma has 7 flowers. She picks 16 red ones, 4 green ones and 34 blue ones. How many flowers does she have now?
He had to answer four questions to help him arrive at the answer:
1. What do you know?
2. What are you looking for?
3. What is the equation?
4. What is the answer?
I hovered over, watching him work on the equation. He was thinking, writing, erasing, thinking and writing more. I looked more closely, knowing that this kind of math is quite easy for him. For the equation, he had written:
18 x 2 + 40 - 25 + 10 = 61.
I inquired what sort of equation he was writing. His answer: Well, when I looked at those four numbers I knew right away they made 61. So now I'm trying to write an equation that equals 61. It pained me to have to inform him that actually they just wanted a simple addition of the four numbers in the problem. He looked at me, confused. "But I can add that in my head in two seconds. Why would I wrote all that out?" I know, I know, I reassured him. It also made me cringe a little inside because unfortunately his teacher would not recognize what he was doing, or that he was doing it because the work is too easy and he's trying his best to make it more interesting. She likely would just mark it wrong.