Correcting assessments is tedious work; the actual teaching is much more fun. But every now and then you get assessments that provide a spark. Such as this one; a math problem solving assessment. This was the problem:
Problem # 1: Basel is starting a summer lawn-mowing business to earn money to buy a new bike. He borrowed $225 from his dad to buy a lawn mower. He charges $35 to mow the average lawn. It costs about $ 0.75 for gasoline for each lawn. That means that his profit from each lawn is $34.25. How many lawns must Basel mow to pay his father back? And if he wants to buy a bike for $500, how many lawns must he mow?
And this, my dear fifth graders and 5th grade parents, was one of the answers. A real gem.
This was the answer page (see up)
And this is what caught my attention.
7 mows too pay back his father and (he) is too busy to buy a bike.
i.e. He has to mow 7 lawns to pay back his father the $225.
Personally, was inclined to give this child the full points, because after all, it is totally true. Mowing 22 lawns should take a normal child an awful lot of time. There is no way on Earth he is going to have time to bike, let alone buy a bike. Besides, what Lebanese child knows how to mow a lawn? Who has lawns in Lebanon? And even if you do, does your dad let you mow the lawn? No, too dangerous, would be the argument, you could cut yourself. And $225 for a lawn mower? If it is a mechanical mower, you got seriously swindled (cheated, short-changed). If it is an electrical one, I doubt it would even function for a mere $225.
Unfortunately, we (the grade 5 teacher) decided not to give him the point, for the simple fact that it might entice students in the future to come up with more of these ‘smart’ answers, in order to avoid doing the calculations, to save time, or in order to cover up possible comprehension problems, and that would defeat our purpose of teaching them how to solve complex and multi-step problems.
Still, it is a gem, and I wanted to share it with you. It made me smile. I hope it made you smile too.