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Classroom Sneak Peek - Mathematical Practice #6

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 The past couple of weeks I began blogging about the 8 Mathematical Practices from the Common core.  I have finished Mathematical Practice # 1, Mathematical Practice # 2, Mathematical Practice #3, Mathematical Practice #4, and Mathematical Practice #5.  This week the focus is on CCSS Mathematical Practice #6 - Attend to Precision.  I'll address what this looks like in the classroom, what students will be doing, what teachers will be doing, and the most important, the type of questions teachers will be asking. 


6. Attend to precision.

Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.


What does this really look like?  The chart below is a work in progress.  I've designed this with the expertise of many classroom teachers.  If you have other ideas, please don't hesitate to email me and share your expertise as well.  If you are interested in using this process with your staff, read What Do The Common Core Standards Look Like in the Math Classroom or for more information on vocabulary ideas, read Math Vocabulary in the Common Core.


Mathematical Practice: Attend to Precision.


Student Actions:

Teacher Actions:

Open-Ended Questions:



  • Students talk with other students using correct math vocabulary.


  • Keep vocabulary journals that allow them to interact with the vocabulary word through pictures, drawings, and their own words.


  • Use correct terminology and are able to give examples and non-examples.


  • Play games with vocabulary words.


  • Use correct labels with word problems.


  • Use vocabulary words in explanations that help clarify their thinking.


  • Focus on clarity and accuracy of process of problem solving.


  • Provide equality problems that require students to understand the equal sign as equality not "the answer" 5 + 7 = ____ + 4





  • Intentionally and purposefully use the correct vocabulary terms in your own speech and when describing the world around you. "Please run the perimeter of the gym."


  • Use the activity "I have, who has" using math vocabulary words.


  • Provide time for students to keep an interactive dictionary.


  • Ask students to provide a label when solving word problems.


  • Allow time daily for students to formulate and explain their ideas to other students, to the class, and to the teacher.


  • Facilitate the discussions and explanations and use probing questions.


  • Provide a space for student created word walls that develop throughout the year as the word is introduced.





  • How might you explain the problem in another way?


  • What math words have you learned that might help explain your thinking?


  • How would you describe the problem in your own words?


  • What words from your vocabulary journal, anchor chart, or word wall might be helpful to help you describe your thinking?


  • How do you know?


  • What are some examples and non-examples of the word?


  • What mathematical word might we use to describe this process?


  • How might your vocabulary journal help you explain your thinking?


  • True or False, does 8 = 0 + 8, how do you know?









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