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Reason Abstractly and Quantitatively


This particular Standard for Mathematical Practice incorporates an elementary student’s ability to translate a word problem into an equivalent number sentence. Additionally, students recognize that all relevant information within the problem has a quantitative value that is expressed with a numeric symbol. After successfully solving the problem, students are able to explain how the numeric representations are related to the original word problem.

This Mathematical Practice is a critical skill that aids students to make sense of later math concepts. Students within the PK-3 spectrum are expected to evaluate the mathematical problem, select a strategy or practice that aids in the problem’s solution and then justify the means by which the problem was solved.

This particular practice in a K-3 classroom should involve a lot of verbal dialogue, not only between the teacher and students, but also among the students themselves. Teachers should begin this practice by modeling for students how a word problem can be translated into a number sentence. Teachers should also guide students to model the problem using pictures, drawings or objects in order to bring a more concrete orientation to an abstract set in a word problem. From there, the teacher moves students to representing the models with number sentences and then solving with the correct mathematical operation.

Even the youngest of this age group, should have opportunities to demonstrate this practice. Those students in the upper range of the K-3 spectrum should have had enough exposure and practice to begin using this method quite effectively. Furthermore, they are able to communicate their thinking processes and assess the reasonableness of their solution.