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Field 212: Multi-Subject: Teachers of Early Childhood
(Birth–Grade 2)
Part Two: Mathematics

Sample Constructed-Response Item

Competency 0005
Analysis, Synthesis, and Application

Use the data provided to complete the task that follows.

Using the data provided, prepare a response of approximately 400–600 words in which you:

Background Information

First-grade students have been developing an understanding of adding two single-digit numbers and representing the process as an equation. The students have been adding and subtracting within 20 using strategies such as counting on, making ten, and decomposing a number leading to a ten. The class is currently working on the following standard from the New York State P–12 Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics.

Operations & Algebraic Thinking (1.OA)

Work with addition and subtraction equations.

7. Understand the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false.

The teacher has planned a lesson experience in which students will use number cards and recording sheets. The teacher has the students work in groups of two.

Description of Class Activity

In the teacher's lesson experience, pairs of students practice combining two numbers while playing a game called "Capture 4." The teacher gives each pair of students a deck of illustrated number cards and recording sheets for writing equations involving addition. The cards are numbered from 0 to 9. To play the game, each student turns over two number cards, finds the sum of the two numbers on the cards, and then writes an equation for the addition problem on the recording sheet. The player with the largest sum "captures" all four cards. Two cards and a completed recording sheet are shown in the example below.

Two cards, one with eight dots and the other with six.

Capture 4 Recording Sheet

Name: Student
Write your equation below.
8 + 6 = 14

Excerpt of Group Discussion

As students work, the teacher moves among them to observe their activity and ask questions. The teacher notices that students use a variety of adding strategies. For example, some students count using the dots on both cards, and others start with the total on one card and then count up using the dots on the other card. The teacher stops to observe one group's work in progress and asks the students to explain their strategies for computation. The group's work is shown below, accompanied by an excerpt of a discussion between the two partners and the teacher.

Kaleme and Isabella have turned over the following cards.

Kaleme has two cards, one with seven dots and one with eight. Isabella also has two cards, one with six dots and one with five.
Kaleme:I won!
Isabella:Wait, that's too fast. How did you add them up so fast?
Kaleme:I didn't have to add. My cards have more dots than yours, so I must have more.
Isabella:That's not fair. You still have to add them up and write the equations down. Then it's my turn, and then we decide who won.

The teacher observes as Kaleme covers two of the dots on the 7 card with his finger and counts the remaining dots.

Kaleme:(counts out loud) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I have 15.

The teacher decides to intervene and ask Kaleme some questions.

Teacher:Can you explain how you got your total, Kaleme?
Kaleme:I knew that I needed 2 more to make 10 on the 8 card. So, I took 2 off of the 7 card (illustrates this by covering two of the dots again). Then I just counted what's left on the 7 card: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So, 10 with 5 more is 15. So, now I can record it.

Kaleme fills out his recording sheet as shown below.

Capture 4 Recording Sheet

Name: Kaleme
Write your equation below.
8 + 2 = 10 + 5 = 15
Teacher: I agree with the sum that you found but let's look closer at the equation.
Kaleme: I think the equation is right because it is true that 8 + 2 = 10 and 10 + 5 = 15. Those are easy sums to figure out.

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

Kaleme demonstrates a significant mathematical strength in his ability to decompose a number leading to a ten. With this knowledge he appears to be able to apply the associative property to draw his conclusion that his two cards have more dots than his partner's. Knowing 2 more than 8 was needed to make 10, Kaleme decomposed 7 to 2 + 5, as shown by covering up two dots on the 7 card and counting the remaining dots. To explain how to get the total, his response was, "I took 2 off the 7 card. Then I just counted what's left on the 7 card: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So, 10 with 5 more is 15." The student appears to understand the associative property since he considered 8 + 7 or 8 + (2 + 5) to be the same as (8 + 2) + 5 or 10 + 5.

Kaleme demonstrated a significant area of need in his misuse of the equality symbol, using "=" as an arrow leading to an answer to a computation, rather than as a symbol meaning that the expressions on either side of it must have the same value. After writing "8 + 2 = 10 + 5 = 15," Kaleme says it is true because "8 + 2 = 10 and 10 + 5 = 15."

Instructional intervention should build on Kaleme's understanding of the associative property and help clarify the meaning of the equality symbol. Asking "What does = mean?" would be a first step toward assessing what the student is thinking. The teacher would then work with Kaleme on his erroneous equation and discuss what is right with it. Kaleme sees that 8 + 2 = 10 and that 10 + 5 = 15, which shows that he does have an understanding of equality. The teacher would then break apart the equation so that he can see where the confusion arises and where he has made a mistake in writing the equation. The teacher would cover up the "+ 5 = 15" portion and ask him if the equation showing is correct. She would then do the same with showing only "10 + 5 = 15" and he will see that this is also correct. Finally, the teacher would cover up the "= 15" and ask if the remaining equation is correct—which, of course, it is not. She would then ask him what he thinks went wrong and lead him to the discovery that he needed to write the equation as individual steps:

8 + 2 = 10
10 + 5 = 15

Following the logical progression of his own statements and then analyzing the flawed logic resulting from the misused equality sign when it is pointed out to him will help Kaleme build a viable argument.

Kaleme should practice this by playing a matching game that includes cards with equations on them such as 4 + 2, and 3 + 3, etc., and cards with an equal sign. He would make equations, illustrating that what was on one side of the equal sign was, in fact, equal to what was on the other side: 3 + 3 = 4 + 2, 4 + 2 = 6, etc. It would also be helpful to have him write the equations as illustrated above, as he continues to play the Capture 4 game with his partner as this will require writing a few equations to come up with his final answer: for example,

3 + 7 = 10
10 + 6 = 16

Throughout the activity, the teacher should continue to ask the student to explain the meaning of the = symbol and describe what he is doing.

Performance Characteristics for Constructed-Response Item

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Completeness The degree to which the response addresses all parts of the assignment
Accuracy The degree to which the response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills accurately and effectively
Depth of Support The degree to which the response provides appropriate examples and details that demonstrate sound reasoning

Score Scale for Constructed-Response Item

A score will be assigned to the response to the constructed-response item according to the following score scale.

Score Point Score Point Description
4 The "4" response reflects a thorough command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response thoroughly addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with thorough accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is well supported by relevant examples and details and thoroughly demonstrates sound reasoning.
3 The "3" response reflects a general command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response generally addresses all parts of the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with general accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is generally supported by some examples and/or details and generally demonstrates sound reasoning.
2 The "2" response reflects a partial command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response addresses all parts of the assignment, but most only partially; or some parts are not addressed at all.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with partial accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is partially supported by some examples and/or details or demonstrates flawed reasoning.
1 The "1" response reflects little or no command of the relevant knowledge and skills:
  • The response minimally addresses the assignment.
  • The response demonstrates the relevant knowledge and skills with minimum accuracy and effectiveness.
  • The response is minimally supported or demonstrates significantly flawed reasoning.
UThe response is unscorable because it is unrelated to the assigned topic or off-task, unreadable, written in a language other than English or contains an insufficient amount of original work to score.
BNo response.