Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Education
Ofce of Vocational and Adult Education
Division of Adult Education and Literacy
Contract No. ED004CO0121/0001
GED
MATHEMATICS
TRAINING INSTITUTE
Acknowledgments iii
Acknowledgments
The Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, recog
nizes the hard work and dedication of those who contributed to the development of
the GED Mathematics Training Institute and these materials.
Susan K. Pittman, President
ELearning Connections, Inc.
Bonnie Vondracek, President
Vondracek Enterprises, Inc. (dba Education and Training Connections)
Other contributors include Esther Leonelli, math teacher and adult numeracy consult
ant; Myrna Manly, textbook author and international adult numeracy consultant; and
Mary Jane Schmitt, adult numeracy curriculum developer and international numeracy
consultant.
U.S. Office of Education
Cheryl Keenan, Director
Division of Adult Education and Literacy
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Daniel Miller
Division of Adult Education and Literacy
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
Ellen McDevitt, Consultant
FourthRiver Associates
MPR Associates, Inc.
Kathleen R. Chernus, Program Director, Adult Education and Literacy
Steven Klein, Program Director, Preparation for College and Career
Donna Fowler, Director of Communications
Ruth Sugar, Research Associate
Gina Tauschek, Research Associate
Barbara Kridl, Publishing Manager
Natesh Daniel, Publishing Associate and Designer
Patti Gildersleeve, Senior Publishing Associate
The Institute staff extends a special thanks to Kenneth Pendleton, GED Testing Ser
vice, whose work informed the content of the Institute and these materials.
Welcome to the GED Mathematics Training Institute v
Welcome to the GED Mathematics Training Institute
Ninety percent of the fastestgrowing jobs of the future will require postsecondary
education, yet less than half of our students graduate from high school ready for col
legelevel math and science. For adults of all ages, mathematical skills are a gate
keeper for entrance into postsecondary education and/or training programs and
significantly affect employability and career options. Eighty percent of individuals who
enroll in community college must take developmental math before enrolling in for
credit courses. Even for those jobs that do not require postsecondary education, em
ployers are seeking employees who are proficient in mathematics and can use math
to solve problems and communicate effectively. For these reasons, President Bush
announced Americas Competitiveness Initiative, which will devote $380 million to the
improvement of math and science education in America.
The United States seems to be losing its competitive edge, posing serious problems
for the education system. Tomorrows jobs will go to those with education in science,
engineering, and mathematics and to highskilled technical workers, according to
The Looming Workforce Crisis (National Association of Manufacturers 2005). The
scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a
time when many other nations are gathering strength, notes Rising Above the Gath
ering Storm (Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy 2006). Findings from
the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) showed that nearly 50 per
cent of adults have inadequate math and numeracy skills. These adults scored at lev
els below what are commonly accepted as necessary for productive lives as workers.
Moreover, the 2003 Assessment of Adult Literacy (ALL)an international survey of
adult literacy and numeracy skillsranked America close to the bottom among devel
oped nations.
The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) understands the importance of
giving adult education teachers the tools they need to be successful in improving the
math skills of adult learners. The GED Mathematics Training Institute is designed to
give math professionals from every state an opportunity to improve math instruction
and prepare adults to score well in mathematics on the GED test. This Institute pre
sents a unique professional development opportunity for practitioners to learn new
techniques and strategies for teaching critical mathematic skills to GED students. It is
also an opportunity for states to benefit from new knowledge as they develop a plan
to train others on these techniques and strategies. Since 2002, OVAEs strategy for
national activities has been to invest a portion of the funds in activities and projects
that will build state capacity to improve teaching and learning in adult education and
literacy. This workshop is another step in that plan. This state and federal partnership
will result in each state delivering further training and is made possible by the dedi
cated professionals attending the institute.
Thank you for investing your attention during these three days and working to create
a plan for training others in your state so that we can all better serve our students.
Cheryl Keenan
Director
Division of Adult
Education and Literacy
Office of Vocational
and Adult Education
U.S. Department
of Education
Agenda vii
Agenda
Introduction to the GED Mathematics Training Institute
yWelcome and Introductions; Overview of the Institute Goals, Objectives,
and Activities
Cheryl Keenan, Director, Division of Adult Education and Literacy,
Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
yResults of GED Testing Service Data Analysis
Steve Klein, Program Director, Preparation for College and Career,
MPR Associates, Inc.
yIntroduction to Implementing the Training Model at the State/Local Levels; Pre
view of Materials
Susan Pittman, President, ELearning Connections, Inc. and
Bonnie Vondracek, President, Vondracek Enterpises, Inc.
Geometry and Measurement
8:009:00 a.m. Connecting the Data: Geometry and Measurement
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yOverview of content and cognitive skills required for geometry
yReview of specific problem areas for GED students
9:0010:30 a.m. Developing Geometric Reasoning
Mary Jane Schmitt, Adult Numeracy Curriculum Developer and
International Numeracy Consultant
Session objectives:
yBecome familiar with the van Hiele theory of developing geometry understanding
yExperience how big ideas in geometry, such as similarity, can be developed from
an intuitive (visual) level through more formal levels
yReflect on how some problems on the Official GED Mathematics Practice Test
might be solved on less formal as well as more formal methods
10:3010:45 a.m. Break
August 22, 2006
4:307:00 p.m.
August 23, 2006
8:00 a.m.5:30 p.m.
Agenda viii
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables
10:4511:45 a.m. Connecting the Data: Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yOverview of content and cognitive skills required to interpret graphs, charts,
tables, and diagrams
yReview of specific problem areas for GED students
11:45 a.m.12:45 p.m. Lunch
12:452:15 p.m. Developing Data and Graph Literacy: What Is the Story in the Graph?
Esther Leonelli, GED Math Teacher and Adult Numeracy Consultant
Session objectives:
yInterpret points on a coordinate graph in a nonquantitative manner using qualita
tive descriptions
yOrganize data, make a scatter plot, look for overall trends, and draw conclusions
about the relationship between factors
ySketch graphs, match graphs to scenarios, and interpret graphs by informally ex
amining slopes and rates of change
2:152:30 p.m. Break
Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation
2:303:30 p.m. Connecting the Data: Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yOverview of calculation as identified through the GED data analysis and what it
means to students across all four content areas
yReview of specific problem areas for GED students
3:305:00 p.m. Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context
Myrna Manly, Author, The GED Math Problem Solver and International Adult
Numeracy Consultant
Session objectives:
yUncover the algebra in a rich real situation involving fuel economy of various
cars
yModel the functional relationship between quantities using words, a table, an
equation, and a graph
yShare techniques for fostering understanding of what operations do
yAnalyze and generalize the arithmetic operations that yield the given values
ySuggest additional inquiries into the topic to allow personal buyin from students
Agenda ix
Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning
8:009:00 a.m. Connecting the Data: Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yOverview of fourstep method for problem solving
yProblemsolving strategies identified by the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics
yReview of specific problem areas for GED students
9:0010:30 a.m. Connecting the Dots: Applying What Youve Learned
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yIntroduction of Charting Data: An Activity from Leonardo DaVinci
yOverview of lesson process
ySession objectives:
 Review a familiar lesson that incorporates a variety of mathematical areas
 Develop new lesson or expand the lesson based on the information pro
vided and the information gained from the Institute
 Prepare presentation of lesson
10:3010:45 a.m. Break
10:4511:45 a.m. Its Your Turn! Lesson Plan Sharing
Susan Pittman and Bonnie Vondracek
yPresentation of lessons by small groups
yDebriefing of lessons by participants
11:45 a.m.12:45 p.m. Next Steps: Implementing the Mathematics Institute at the State and Local Levels
yImplementation plans: presentation by two to three states
12:451:00 p.m. Implementing the Institute Training Model at the State/Local Levels
and Concluding Remarks
Ellen McDevitt, Consultant, FourthRiver Associates, U.S. Department of Education
August 24, 2006
8:00 a.m.1:00 p.m.
Thank you very much for your responses and helping us to improve
the effectiveness of future training projects. xi
GED Mathematics Institute Evaluation Form
Indicate
Participant
Category
 Teacher (GED Mathematics)  Teacher (College/University Level Mathematics)
 State Level Mathematics Specialist  State Staff Responsible for Staff Development
 Other (specify) _____________________________________________________________
Institute Effective Adequate Marginal Inadequate
Content of institute    
Overall objectives met    
Skill/knowledge/competency improvement    
Overall usability of information    
Usability of information in providing statewide training    
Usability of information in the classroom    
Overall effectiveness of institute materials    
Effectiveness of Training Institute Manual    
Effectiveness of Lesson Plans    
Effectiveness of PowerPoint slides    
Effectiveness of handouts and supplemental materials    
Overall rating for the institute    
Trainers
Presentation skills    
Content knowledge    
Mark all that apply
Why did you participate in this
institute?
How did you find out about the
institute?
What will you do to apply what you
have learned to your position?
 Sent by state director
 Requested opportunity to
participate
 Presenters reputation
 Other
 State Director
 Information from OVAE
 Word of mouth from other adult
educators
 Other
 Meet with state director
 Conduct training statewide
 Conduct training locally or
regionally
 Use ideas in my classroom
 Other
Comments
What was the most valuable part of the professional development to you? Why?
Do you have any other comments about the content of this institute or the presenters?
Do you have any suggestions for other professional development activities/projects?
Contents xiii
Contents
Page
Acknowledgments .......................................................................................... iii
Welcome to the GED Mathematics Training Institute ..................................... v
Agenda ........................................................................................................... vii
GED Mathematics Institute Evaluation Form .................................................. xi
Chapter 1 GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction ......................................... 11
Role of OVAE .......................................................................................... 11
NRS Core Indicators ............................................................................... 11
Adult Numeracy Network ........................................................................ 12
Adult Numeracy Standards ..................................................................... 13
NCTM Standards .................................................................................... 17
Institute Goals and Objectives ................................................................. 18
Planning for Statewide Implementation ................................................... 19
Chapter 2 Data Analysis Report: Identifying Skill Gaps and Topics for the GED
Mathematics Training Institute ....................................................................... 21
Why Be Concerned? .............................................................................. 21
Overview of Math Abilities ....................................................................... 22
Content Knowledge Crucial to Success .................................................. 23
Skill Gaps Among GED Candidates ........................................................ 24
In Summary ............................................................................................. 29
PowerPointUnderstanding the GED Mathematics Test
Chapter 3 GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test .............................................................. 31
Alignment With Standards ....................................................................... 31
Specific Guidelines for the Test ............................................................... 31
Content and Context of the GED Mathematics Test ............................... 32
Cognitive Demands of the GED Mathematics Test ................................. 37
Alternate Format Questions .................................................................... 310
Scientific Calculator ................................................................................. 312
At a GlanceThe GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test .......................... 313
Chapter 4 Geometry and Measurement .......................................................................... 41
GeometryMost Missed Questions ........................................................ 41
GEDType Question Samples ................................................................. 42
Incorporating Geometry into the Classroom ............................................ 45
PowerPointConnecting the Data: Geometry and Measurement
Contents xiv
Page
Chapter 5 Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables ................................................ 51
Graphics in Daily Life .............................................................................. 51
Graphs, Tables, and ChartsMost Missed Questions ........................... 51
GEDType Question Samples ................................................................. 53
Incorporating Graphic Literacy into the Classroom ................................. 58
PowerPointConnecting the Data: Reading and Interpreting
Graphs and Tables
Chapter 6 Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation ........................................ 61
Its More Than Computation .................................................................... 61
CalculationMost Missed Questions ...................................................... 62
GEDType Question Samples ................................................................. 62
Incorporating Calculation Skills into the Classroom ................................ 67
PowerPointConnecting the Data: Application of Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Chapter 7 Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning .............................................. 71
Areas of Concern for Students ................................................................ 71
Introduction to NCTM Method for Problem Solving ................................. 73
Graphic Organizers for Problem Solving ................................................. 77
More Strategies for Problem Solving........................................................ 717
PowerPointConnecting the Data: Problem Solving and
Mathematical Reasoning
Chapter 8 Implementing the Mathematics Institute at the State and Local Level ............ 81
Implementation at the State and Local Level .......................................... 81
Agendas and Training Recommendations .............................................. 82
Tips for Trainers ...................................................................................... 815
Setting the Right Tone ............................................................................ 816
Sample Evaluation Form ......................................................................... 819
TransferofLearning Survey ................................................................... 821
Implementation Plans .............................................................................. 823
Appendix A References and Websites ............................................................................... A1
References .............................................................................................. A1
Websites for the Classroom .................................................................... A3
Manipulatives for Math............................................................................. A5
Contents xv
Page
Appendix B Resources
B1: GED Mathematics Test Formula Page ............................................. B1
B2: Alternate Format Grids ..................................................................... B3
B3: Coordinate Plane Grids .................................................................... B5
B4: The Casio fx260 Solar Calculator Guide ......................................... B7
B5: GED Mathematics Test and Calculator Directions ............................ B17
B6: Using Games or Math Starters in the GED Classroom ..................... B19
B7: Using Math Journals in the GED Classroom ..................................... B27
Appendix C Lesson Plans
Instructions for Building a Lesson Plan ................................................... C1
Lesson Plan 1Developing Geometric Reasoning ................................ C5
PowerPointDeveloping Geometric Reasoning
Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy: What Is the Story
in the Graph? ........................................................................................... C21
Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real
Context .................................................................................................... C39
PowerPointDeveloping Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real
Context
Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci ...... C49
Appendix D Contacts and Biographies
Biographies ............................................................................................. D1
Staff/Team Members Contact List ........................................................... D3
Attendees Contact List ............................................................................ D5
Chapter 1GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction 11
C H A P T E R 1
GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction
The Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education serves as the principal
adviser to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education on all matters related to
high school, career technical, and adult education and life long learning, as well as
community colleges and workforce and economic development. OVAE administers,
coordinates, and recommends policy for improving quality and excellence of pro
grams that are designed to:
yPrepare students for postsecondary education and careers through strong high
school programs and career and technical education.
yProvide opportunities to adults to increase their literacy skills.
yPromote identification and dissemination of effective practices in raising student
achievement in high schools, community colleges, and adult education programs,
as well as to lead targeted research investments.
yPromote improved coordination and communication among programs and activi
ties that prepare youth and adults for postsecondary education and careers.
yInsure equal access to careers and technical and adult education by minorities,
women, handicapped, and disadvantaged persons.
yProvide a unified Federal approach to high school, career and technical, and adult
education, as well as community colleges, with a focus in particular on low achiev
ing areas.
yPromote the implementation of education technology as it applies to access and
service delivery, as well as instructional methodology.
Retrieved July 11, 2006, from
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/om/fs_po/ovae/intro.html.
To ensure that adult education service providers offer effective services, Congress
authorized legislation containing a variety of accountability provisions. One key provi
sion, contained in the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act within the Workforce
Investment Act (WIAP.L. 105220), provided for the development of the National
Reporting System (NRS), which requires adult education providers to report annually
on their program effectiveness.
One of the five NRS core indicators within this system requires that adult education
providers track a learners receipt of a secondary school diploma or its equivalentif
that person sets that as a goal. A review of NRS data suggests that improved read
ing, writing, and mathematics instruction in adult education classrooms is associated
with improved passing rates on the General Educational Development (GED) Tests.
Consequently, it is imperative that local program staff members are effectively trained
to deliver services.
Role of OVAE
NRS Core Indicators
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Chapter 1GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction 115
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Chapter 1GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction 117
GED Mathematics Training Institute Implementation Plan
State ___________________ Team Members ___________________________
Goals and Objectives
Action Items
Individuals/Institutions
Responsible
Potential Obstacles or
Concerns
Chapter 1GED Mathematics Training InstituteIntroduction 119
Resources Required
Timeline
Evaluation/Followup
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 21
C H A P T E R 2
Data Analysis Report: Identifying Skill Gaps and Topics for
the GED Mathematics Training Institute
This data analysis report was written by Steven Klein of MPR Associates, Inc. and
originally presented to OVAE in December 2005.
Candidates seeking to obtain a GED credential must complete a battery of five tests
covering math, science, reading, writing, and social studies. The math exam consists
of two equally weighted sections: Part I, in which a Casio fx260 calculator is pro
vided, and Part II, in which all calculations are performed by hand. Each part consists
of 25 questions, which must be completed in 45 minutes per section. Approximately
80 percent of test questions in each section are multiple choice, with candidates
asked to select from among five possible solutions. Remaining questions ask stu
dents to demonstrate their mathematics skills in alternative formats, for example, by
bubbling their answer into a grid format or graphing an ordered pair of points on a
line.
Passing the math exam requires that GED candidates possess a set of mathematical
abilities, which include a Procedural understanding of how to approach solving a
problem; Conceptual knowledge of the underlying principles upon which a problem is
based; and Application/Modeling/Problem Solving skills that candidates must employ
to arrive at a solution. Candidates apply these abilities across four mathematics con
tent areas, which are equally weighted on the exam: (1) Number Sense and Opera
tions; (2) Measurement and Geometry; (3) Data Statistics and Probability; and (4)
Algebra, Functions and Patterns.
Just over onequarter of GED test takers in the United States (29.9 percent) failed to
achieve the minimum GED score standard in 2003, with results varying across states
and with candidates demographic characteristics.
1
Passing rates on the math exam
were also the lowest among the five academic subjects, meaning that for many can
didates, this exam presents the greatest challenge to obtaining a GED credential.
To identify obstacles to test takers success, the General Educational Development
Testing Service (GEDTS) recently analyzed the performance of GED candidates who
failed to achieve the minimum passing score in math in 2003. Based on a review of
test item responses, analysts were able to identify the questions candidates were
most likely to answer incorrectly, along with the most commonly selected distracter
associated with identified problems.
2
This paper draws on GEDTS statistical analysesalong with other sources in the lit
eratureto identify skill deficits most often noted among GED candidates who failed
to pass the math exam and extrapolates from these findings to suggest topics that
trainers may wish to consider addressing at the upcoming OVAEsponsored GED
Mathematics Training Institute.
3
To provide context for this discussion, the paper
Why Be Concerned?
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 22
opens with a brief description of the specific math abilities and content area knowl
edge that GED candidates must possess to pass the GED exam. A matrix relating
math abilities with content area knowledge is also provided to illustrate the types of
questions candidates are likely to encounter during the test, and the context in which
they may be asked.
Mathematical abilities describe the types of skills needed to answer a test question.
Test developers have generalized these skills into three different types of abilities.
1. Proceduralthe ability to examine a problem and select the correct process to
solve it. Procedural questions require candidates to possess a solid foundation of
mathematical skills. These questionscomprising roughly 20 percent of the entire
test (i.e., 10 questions) require that candidates be able to:
 Select and apply the correct procedure to solve a problem
 Apply numerical algorithms and geometric constructions
 Read and extract information from word problems, graphs, charts,
and tables
 Estimate, round, and order numbers
2. Conceptualknowledge of mathematical concepts and principles and the ability
to recognize these principles in different settings. Conceptual questions require
candidates to demonstrate that they know how to set up an equation, even if they
are not asked to actually solve it. These questionscomprising roughly 30 per
cent of the test (i.e., 15 questions)require that candidates be able to:
 Identify, label, or apply concepts and principles within different types of
math problems
 Compare, contrast, and integrate concepts and math principles
 Recognize, interpret, and apply signs, symbols, and mathematical terms
3. Application/Modeling/Problem Solvingcapacity to apply mathematical con
cepts and principles to arrive at a solution. Problem solving questions require can
didates to demonstrate that they can apply knowledge to solve complex problems
that may combine one or more steps. These type of questionscomprising 50
percent of the test (i.e., 25 questions)require that candidates be able to:
 Generate, extend, and modify procedures to address different types of
problems
 Apply strategies, data, models, and math skills to solve problems
 Judge the reasonableness of solutions, assess whether there is sufficient
information to solve a problem, and identify extraneous data that should be
ignored
Overview of
Math Abilities
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 23
GED test questions ask candidates to demonstrate their math abilities across four
mathematical content areas. Perhaps the simplest way to think about the structure of
the exam is to visualize a matrix that arrays the mathematical abilities described
above against the content areas included in the exam.
CONTENT AREAS PROCEDURAL CONCEPTUAL PROBLEM SOLVING
Number Sense,
Operations
ySelect and apply
correct math
algorithm
yCalculate ratios
yExtract information
from text and set
up a math expres
sion
yExecute multistep
problems
yIdentify and solve
relationships
Measurement,
Geometry
ySelect correct for
mula (e.g., choose
Pythagorean
Theorem)
yMeasure materials
yInterpret a figure
and set up math
formula (e.g., set
up problem using
Pythagorean Theo
rem)
ySolve equation for
missing variable (e.g.,
enter numbers and
solve Pythagorean
Theorem)
yFind area, volume, or
perimeter of figure
Data, Statistics,
Probability
yAssess probability yInterpret graphs
and select a possi
ble representation
yEstimate or calculate
outcomes
Algebra,
Functions,
Patterns
yIsolate variables yInterpret a word
problem and set up
math equation
yWrite slopeintercept
form and solve
yInterpret word prob
lem, set up formula
and solve
Each content area encompasses a discrete category of mathematical knowledge.
Each content area receives roughly equal weight on the exam, with roughly 25 per
cent of test questions drawn from each area (i.e., 6 questions per content area per
part). Content areas include:
1. Number Sense and Operationsunderstanding of basic math terminology and
the ability to solve math expressions or equations, either in isolation or as a step in
a complex, multistep problem. This requires candidates to:
 Demonstrate numeric understanding (e.g., integers, fractions, decimals,
percents, exponents)
 Perform math operations (e.g., add, subtract, multiply, divide)
 Analyze and apply percentages, ratios, proportions
 Estimate to solve problems and assess possible solutions
2. Measurement and Geometryability to use units of measurement in different
systems to assess the characteristics of lines and geometric figures. This requires
candidates to:
Content Knowledge
Crucial to Success
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 24
 Convert from metric and customary measures
 Interpret lines and graphs (e.g., coordinates, perpendicular, parallel, inter
sections, slope)
 Analyze geometric figures (e.g., angles, congruence, Pythagorean Theo
rem)
 Solve problems (e.g., length, perimeter, area, surface area, volume,
weight)
3. Data, Statistics, and Probabilitycapacity to interpret and use data, presented
in different formats, to solve problems or make predictions. This requires candi
dates to:
 Understand statistical concepts (e.g., sampling, mean, median, mode, line
of best fit, bias)
 Construct, interpret, and compare tables, charts, and graphs of statistical
data
 Compare and contrast data sets and make predictions based on probabili
ties
4. Algebra, Functions, and Patternscapacity to create and solve algebraic ex
pressions and to explain patterns and functional relationships presented in textual,
graphical, and other forms. This requires candidates to:
 Create algebraic expressions and equations to model and solve problems
 Use variables and equations to represent data provided in tables, graphs,
and word problems
 Analyze tables and graphs to generalize patterns and relationships
 Understand functional relationships and solve linear, quadratic, and expo
nential functions
In 2005, to identify obstacles to candidates success, GEDTS analyzed the perform
ance of GED candidates who failed to pass the math exam in the 200304 testing
year. Analysis focused on identifying the types of test items candidates most often
answered incorrectly and the most commonly chosen incorrect distracters.
Study findings reveal that candidates who failed the GED exam often had difficulty
answering mathematical questions in three thematic areas. In particular, candidates
were prone to make mistakes when attempting to (1) set up and solve certain types of
geometric problems, (2) calculate answers by applying basic math principles, and (3)
read and interpret graphs and tables. The study noted that use of the Casio fx260
solar calculator did not affect the results. Students missed the same type and number
of problems on both Parts I and II.
The following section details the math abilities candidates had difficulty applying, in
the context of the content areas in which problems were identified. Common mathe
matical mistakes identified by GEDTS analysts, along with tips for avoiding them, are
also provided. To improve a candidates exam performance, it is recommended that
the training institute focus on each of the following thematic areas identified by the
GEDTS research project.
Skill Gaps Among
GED Candidates
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 25
Thematic Area 1: Geometry and Measurement
Analysis of GED test data indicates that candidates who failed the math exam were
often unable to select the correct procedure to solve a problem, to accurately con
struct mathematical formulas to represent the characteristics of different geometric
figures, or to modify and apply their knowledge to solve complex problems. To im
prove their exam performance, candidates must be able to:
RECOGNIZE VISUAL CUES
GED test questions are written using standardized formats. Candidates should be
familiar with test construction, so that they can instantly identify the type of informa
tion they are being asked to provide. In general:
yArea problems always depict a geometric figure with interior shading.
yPerimeter and circumference problems always depict a geometric figure in outline.
USE THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM
Candidates must be able to calculate the length of a missing side of a right triangle.
The Pythagorean Theorem stipulates that the sum of the squared lengths of the legs
of a right triangle equals the square of the length of its hypotenuse (i.e., a
2
+ b
2
= c
2
).
Candidates are most likely to make Conceptual errors in attempting to solve this prob
lem by:
yIncorrectly specifying the formulaa common mistake is to add the sides in an ef
fort to find the hypotenuse (i.e., a + b = c).
yFailing to understand that the measure of any side of a triangle must be less than
the sum of the measures of its other two sides.
CALCULATE AREAS BY PARTITIONING
Candidates may be presented with irregular geometric shapes that cannot be easily
represented with a simple formula. To solve these problems, candidates must apply
Problem Solving skills that allow them to break down a complex problem into its com
ponent parts that can be more easily computed. This requires that test takers be able
to:
yPartition complex geometric shapes into smaller figures with areas that are more
easily computed. For example, to find the area of an Lshaped figure, candidates
could first identify two smaller rectangles comprising the figure, solve for each
separately, and then sum the two areas to find that of the whole.
ySince there may be more than one way to partition a figure, candidates should
consider the different representations they may use and then select the one sim
plest for them to calculate.
COMPARE PROPERTIES OF GEOMETRIC FIGURES
In addition to being able to calculate the area, perimeter, and volume of geometric
figures, candidates should also be prepared to compare geometric properties of dif
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 26
ferent shapes. This requires that candidates be able to apply Procedural abilities to
apply numerical algorithms to the dimensions of a geometric figure, such as increas
ing or decreasing the length of the sides by a fixed percentage, computing the geo
metric properties of the resulting figure, and comparing the result to the original figure.
SUBSTITUTE TO SOLVE A PROBLEM
Geometric problems that test candidates Conceptual abilities may ask them to select
a mathematical expression that represents the area or perimeter of a geometric fig
ure. Analyses of GEDTS data shows that candidates may have difficulty computing
expressions that contain variables. To simplify computations, candidates should be
taught to substitute a number in place of each variable and compute a solution for the
given geometric figure. They should then compare the result to that obtained by sub
stituting the same number into each of the listed alternatives. For example, rather
than carry out lengthy operations, such as multiplying the terms (x + 2) (x  2) to ex
press the area of a rectangle, candidates should insert a number for the variable x,
such as 4, and then complete the computation.
UNDERSTAND RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ANGLES AND PARALLEL LINES
The analysis indicates that GED candidates who fail the exam have difficulty under
standing the properties of angles formed when a parallel set of lines is intersected by
a third line, or that are depicted within a geometric figure consisting of two or more
pairs of parallel lines. Accordingly, candidates should know that:
yIf a b, then any pair of angles
(in the figure depicted at right) will satisfy
one of these two equations
x = y or x + y = 180
and they should be able to differentiate which
pair satisfies each equation.
yAngles appear as they are represented
on the test, meaning that if a pair of lines is parallel, angles that appear equal are
equal, and those that do not appear equal are not equal.
Thematic Area 2: Applying Basic Math Principles to Calculation
Candidates should be able to perform arithmetic computations quickly and accurately
in each of the mathematical content areas included on the test. Analyses of test data
by GEDTS analysts indicates that candidates who fail the exam often make careless
Procedural errors that are easily avoided. Consequently, GED instructors should seek
to reinforce candidates basic math skills when estimating or performing calculations
using:
1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
b
a
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 27
PERCENTAGES
Candidates should be able to:
yEstimate or calculate 10 percent of any number.
yCalculate 25 percent of any whole number.
yCalculate percentage increases or decreases.
FRACTIONS
Candidates should be able to:
yFind , , , and of any whole number.
yVisualize reasonable (and unreasonable) answers.
DECIMALS
Candidates should be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimal numbers us
ing a calculator.
SQUARE ROOTS
Candidates should be able to:
ySquare and take the square root of numbers using a calculator and know when to
do so.
yEstimate the size of a nonperfect square, for example, by calculating the square
root of the nearest perfect square (e.g., using 4 to estimate the 5 ).
yRecognize that any question asking for a decimal approximation of the square root
of a nonperfect square will only be asked on Part I of the exam.
EXPONENTS
Candidates should be reminded that:
yExponents raise a base to a power, and are not the same as multiplying
(i.e., 4
2
4 2).
yNegative exponents represent a small decimal number, not a negative one
(i.e., 2
2
= ()
2
= = .025).
yNegative exponents in scientific notation indicate a small decimal number
(i.e., 4 10
2
= .04), while positive exponents in scientific notation signify a large
number (i.e., 4 10
2
= 400). Candidates should also be able to convert from one
expression to another.
Irrespective of the specific calculation, candidates should be able to replace a vari
able with a reasonable number that can be used to test the alternatives that are pro
vided. This approach is particularly relevant in Part I of the exam, in which a
calculator may be used. Candidates should also be skilled at estimation and able to
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 28
recognize reasonableand discard unreasonableanswers prior to attempting to
calculate solutions.
Thematic Area 3: Graphs and Tables
Each of the mathematical content areas asks candidates to construct, read, interpret
or draw inferences from graphs or tables to model or solve a problem. Analysis of
GEDTS data indicates that candidates often lack the Procedural abilities needed to
read and extract information presented in graphic or tabular form and the Conceptual
abilities required to compare graphical figures representing different conditions. Given
the difficulty that GED candidates have interpreting graphical and tabular data, it is
imperative that students become familiar with the different types of diagrams they
may encounter and learn strategies for working with the data they contain. Skill gaps
identified among GED candidates include:
TRANSITIONING BETWEEN TEXT AND GRAPHICS
Candidates should be adept at reading text descriptions of events or problems and
translating this information into graphical formats. Suggested activities to build these
skills include having candidates:
yCreate questions for their own graphics and/or those of others.
yFind realworld examples of different types of graphics.
yTranslate graphics into text and text into graphics.
INTERPRETING AND COMPARING GRAPHICAL DATA
Candidates may be asked to interpret data appearing within a graphical illustration, to
compare information plotted on the same coordinate plane, or to compare data con
tained in two or more graphics. To help candidates recognize differences across dia
grams, they must be able to:
yRead and interpret graphs with and without scales or detailed units of measure.
ySelect and interpret table values contained within multiple graphs.
yDistinguish rates of change represented on a single graphic (often depicted as fi
nancial growth) and compare the rates of increase for two or more plots of infor
mation. This may include comparisons of an initial amount invested as well as the
relative change in its value over time.
INTERPRETING AND SELECTING TABULAR DATA FOR COMPUTATION
Test questions may include complex graphs or tables that depict a great deal of in
formation, not all of which is needed to answer a question. Test analyses indicate that
candidates often have difficulty:
yDistinguishing pertinent data from extraneous information presented.
Chapter 2Data Analysis Report 29
Analyses of GED test statistics reveal that candidates unable to pass the math exam
often experience difficulty when they encounter particular types of problems. While
instructors should continue to focus on all areas included on the test, GEDTS analysis
suggest that they should also consider modifying classroom curriculum to emphasize
the use of Geometry and Measurement, Applying Basic Math Principles to Calcula
tion, and Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables.
Since people have different learning styles, no one instructional technique will work
with all individuals. To reach the greatest number of candidates, GEDTS analysts
suggest that educators use alternative instructional methods to tap candidates differ
ing sensory or learning abilities. For example, instructors might seek to combine tradi
tional, lecturestyle classroom instruction with handson activities, such as having
students initially use strings and rulers, paper cutouts, or other manipulatives to
physically calculate the perimeter, area, volume, and other characteristics of geomet
ric figures.
Finally, GEDTS analysts have noted that candidates are exposed to a great deal of
information, much of it new, while preparing to take the GED exam. Once all topics
have been covered, GEDTS recommends that instructors review topical areas, in par
ticular principles of geometry, calculation, and the use of graphics and tables, just be
fore students take the test.
1
American Council on Education. (July 2005). Who Passed the GED Tests? 2003 Statistical
Report. Washington, DC: GED Testing Service.
2
Pendleton, Kenn. (July 2005). The GED Mathematics Test: Moving Our Candidates from Good
to Great. A presentation at the GED Administrators Conference.
3
Other sources consulted include: Pendleton, Kenn. (June 1999). Item Writers Manual Test 5
Mathematics. Washington, DC: GED Testing Service; Rogers, M. The GED Mathematics Test:
Passing the GED Math Test. California Distance Learning Project. Retrieved December 6, 2005,
from http://www.cdlponline.org/gedprint/files/GED27.pdf
#search='the%20ged%20mathematics%20test'
In Summary
1
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Steven Klein
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
2
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 22
Overview
GED Test Structure
GED Candidate Performance
Review of GED Testing Service
(GEDTS) Study of Math Exam
3
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 33
GED Test Structure
Consists of Five Subject Area Tests
Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Writing
Math Exam has Two Equally Weighted Parts
Part 1: Use of Casio fx260 calculator
Part 2: Calculations by hand
Math Test Format
25 questions and 45 minutes per section
Scored on range of 200 to 800
80 percent of questions multiple choice
20 percent of questions alternative format
(e.g., graphing)
4
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 44
GED Test Structure (Continued)
Math Content Areas
Number Sense and Operations
Measurement and Geometry
Data Statistics and Probability
Algebra, Functions, and Patterns
Three Question Types
Procedural
Conceptual
Application
Procedural questions require students to:
Select and apply correct operations or
procedures
Modify procedures when needed
Read and interpret graphs, charts, and
tables
Round, estimate, and order numbers
Use formulas
Conceptual questions require students to:
Recognize basic mathematical concepts
Identify and apply concepts and
principles of mathematics
Compare, contrast, and integrate
concepts and principles
Interpret and apply signs, symbols, and
mathematical terms
Demonstrate understanding of
relationships among numbers, concepts,
and principles
Application/Modeling/Problem Solving
questions require students to:
Identify the type of problem
represented
Decide whether there is sufficient
information
Select only pertinent information
Apply the appropriate problemsolving
strategy
Adapt strategies or procedures
Determine whether an answer is
reasonable
5
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 55
GED Candidate Performance
U.S. Candidate Profile: 2004
Average Age 24.7 years
Gender 55.1% male; 44.9% female
Ethnicity
55.3% White
18.1% Hispanic Origin
21.5% African American
2.7% American Indian or Alaska Native
1.7% Asian
0.6% Pacific Islander/Hawaiian
Average Grade Completed 10.0
6
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 66
GED Candidate Performance
(Continued)
Mean Pass Rate
Math 467 79.5
Reading 544 96.1
Science 515 92.9
Social Studies 521 94.2
Writing 474 86.3
Source: GED Testing Service
Passage requires an average score of at least 450
across all five tests with no score below 410.
7
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 77
GEDTS Study Review:
Methodology
Analysis of 2003 Math Test Results
Review of three test forms
Used top 40% of most frequently missed items
Identified themes among missed items
Compared GED Candidates Failing to
Achieve Math Passing Score in 2003
Candidates scoring near the cut score
Candidates scoring within 12 SEMs (Standard
Error of Measure) below the cut score
8
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 88
GEDTS Study Review: Findings
Both Candidate Groups
Had equal difficulty on Parts I and II
Miss similar types of questions
Make similar types of errors
Common Themes Identified
Geometry and Measurement
Applying Basic Math Principles to Calculation
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables
A first question GEDTS asked is whether GED
candidates who just missed passing the exam
experienced difficulty on different types of
questions than those who scored within 12
SEMs (Standard Error of Measure) below the
cut score.
9
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 99
GEDTS Study Review:
Identified Skill Gaps
Geometry and Measurement
Selecting the correct procedure to solve
a problem
Constructing mathematical formulas to
represent geometric figures
Modifying knowledge to solve complex
problems
10
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 10 10
GEDTS Study Review:
Identified Skill Gaps
Applying Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
Performing arithmetic computations
Estimating results
Falling victim to distracters
11
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 11 11
GEDTS Study Review:
Identified Skill Gaps
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
Extracting information presented in
tabular or graphic form
Comparing graphical figures representing
different conditions
12
Understanding the GED Mathematics
Test
Slide 12 12
GEDTS Study Review:
Recommendations
Adjust curriculum to emphasize
identified thematic areas
Present alternative ways to
approach a problem to tap more of
the abilities that candidates possess
Review thematic areas prior to test
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 31
C H A P T E R 3
GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test
Adults who pass the GED Tests are awarded a credential that is often referred to as a
high school equivalency diploma. To ensure that candidates demonstrate skills com
parable to those of high school graduates, the GED Testing Service aligns the items
tested with the core academic standards found in U.S. high schools and establishes
the score scales on a periodic norming of the GED Tests using current high school
students who have met graduation requirements within their locale.
The fourth generation of the GED Tests was developed based on an alignment with
both state and national standards. For the GED Mathematics Test, the content and
skills required were aligned with:
yCurriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989), National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
yMathematics Framework for the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Pro
gress (n.d.), National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
yNew Standards Performance Standards: English, Language Arts, Mathematics,
Science, and Applied Learning (1997), National Center on Education and the
Economy and the University of Pittsburgh.
yStandards review from eight states: California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New
Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, as reported in the Alignment of
National and State Standards. A Report by the GED Testing Service (1999).
Washington, DC: American Council on Education, GED Testing Service.
Based on the review of both national and state standards, the Mathematics Test
Specifications Committee identified the four major areas assessed on the GED 2002
Series Mathematics Test. These areas include:
yNumber Operations and Number Sense.
yMeasurement and Geometry.
yData Analysis, Statistics, and Probability.
yAlgebra, Functions, and Patterns.
The Test Specifications Committee established guidelines for items to be included on
the GED Mathematics Test. GED Mathematics Test items:
yMeasure the application of mathematical theory.
yMeasure analytical and reasoning skills.
yRequire examinees to read and decipher mathematical context from both written
and graphic forms.
Alignment With
Standards
Specific Guidelines
for the Test
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 32
yPresent problems in practical, everyday context.
yAddress more than one mathematical concept.
yEnsure that formulas are provided for problems which require their use.
yAre divided between two parts of the test that are equally weighted, with one part
allowing for the use of the calculator.
yProvide approximately 20 percent of the items be completed using an alternative
format rather than the more typical multiplechoice format.
The GED Mathematics Test assesses the students understanding of mathematical
concepts, as well as their ability to apply those concepts in different situations. In
mathematics, it is not enough just to know that the area of a rectangle is length times
width, but rather to understand when area should be calculated to solve a specific
problem. Note that on the GED Mathematics Test, shaded figures are used to indi
cate calculation of area. However, this is not the case in all assessment, so students
need to possess a conceptual understanding of area. It is this application of knowl
edge in reallife situations that sets apart the GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test
from previous versions of the test.
The GED Mathematics Test is divided into two parts. Part I allows for the use of the
calculator. Part II does not. Both parts include openended questions in which the an
swers are placed on a grid. Two types of grids are used:
yStandard grid
yCoordinate plane grid
As in previous versions of the test, a formulas page is included that students may re
fer to during the test. In addition, there are directions included for correctly filling in
grids and using the calculator. Students should be aware of all of these resources be
fore taking the test. For some students, just knowing that the formulas page is there
may lessen their anxiety levels.
The GED Mathematics Test includes questions from four major areas:
yNumber Operations and Number Sense
yMeasurement and Geometry
yData Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
yAlgebra, Functions, and Patterns
Number Operations and Number Sense
According to the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), number sense refers to a
natural feeling for numbers and their different uses and interpretations, an apprecia
tion for various levels of accuracy when calculating, the ability to detect errors quickly,
and a commonsense approach to using numbers. When students have a strong
Content and
Context of the GED
Mathematics Test
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 33
number sense, they focus on what strategies to use to solve a problem rather than
the answer itself. To develop a strong number sense, students must engage in activi
ties that allow them to see the connections between math and everyday life.
Being able to handle numbers comfortably and competently is important to adults.
Their competence and confidence relies upon having a developed number sense
about whole numbers, money, fractions, decimals, and percentages. Number sense
includes:
ycalculation skills with numbers.
ya sense of numbers and operations.
ythe ability to use estimation, mental math, computation, calculators, and other
tools appropriately.
Students must be able to perceive the idea of place value and be able to read, write,
and represent whole numbers and numerical relationships in a wide variety of situa
tions. Basic computation skills are not enough. Students also must know how and
when to apply them.
The Secretarys Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) Report states
that work competencies and skills require estimation. Estimation is probably the most
used and useful skill for adults. It plays an important role in the home, in the work
place, and in the community. Students must master estimation skills if they wish to
succeed in math and be comfortable in everyday situations that require math applica
tion.
Fractions, decimals, percents, and ratios are also necessary skills for adults. These
are some of the most challenging of the basic math skills. Everyday life rarely calls for
whole numbers; instead, adults frequently work with fractional amounts and decimals.
Each of the areas listed above are essential skills for the student who wishes to earn
a high school diploma through the GED Tests. About 2030 percent of the questions
on the GED Mathematics Test are in the area of Number Operations and Number
Sense. The skills tested include:
yrepresent and use numbers in a variety of equivalent forms (integer, fraction,
decimal, percent, exponential, and scientific) in realworld and mathematical prob
lem situations.
yrepresent, analyze, and apply whole numbers, decimals, fractions, percents, ra
tios, proportions, exponents, roots, and scientific notation in a wide variety of
situations.
yrecognize equivalencies and order relations for whole numbers, fractions, deci
mals, integers, and rational numbers.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 34
yselect the appropriate operations to solve problems (for example, When should I
divide?).
yrelate basic arithmetic operations to one another.
ycalculate with mental math, pencil and paper, and a scientific calculator using
whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and integers.
yuse estimation to solve problems and assess the reasonableness of an answer.
Measurement and Geometry
For many adult students, measurement is an area that makes sense. They under
stand the difference between perimeter and area. Students know that if they want to
buy new carpet for a room, they must determine the area of that room. They under
stand basic measurements, such as a cup, pint, quart, and gallon. Measurement and
geometry are essential skills for everyday life. Because these skills are so often used
in real life, adults feel more comfortable and have greater confidence in these areas.
However, most students associate geometry with failure. They often had difficulty with
geometry because it was taught out of context. They got lost in the midst of theorems
and angles and did not have the opportunity to learn geometry in context.
If students are to be successful in this area of math, they must understand how they
can use the information in real life. They also need to understand that they may al
ready know about measurement and geometry, but may not think of them in those
terms.
About 2030 percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test are in the area
of Measurement and Geometry. The skills tested include:
ymodel and solve problems using the concepts of perpendicularity, parallelism,
congruence, and similarity of geometric figures.
yuse spatial visualization skills to describe and analyze geometric figures and
translations/rotations of such figures.
yuse the Pythagorean Theorem to model and solve problems.
yfind, use, and interpret the slope of a line, the yintercept of a line, and the inter
section of two lines.
yuse coordinates to design and describe geometric figures.
yidentify and select appropriate units of metric and customary measures.
yconvert and estimate units of metric and customary measure (all conversions
within systems).
ysolve and estimate solutions to problems involving length, perimeter, area, surface
area, volume, angle measurement, capacity, weight, and mass.
yuse uniform rates (e.g., miles per hour, bushels per acre) in problem situations.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 35
yread and interpret scales, meters, and gauges.
ypredict the impact of changes in linear dimension on the perimeter, area, and vol
ume of figures.
Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
Adults use data every day to make decisions. Data determine whether or not to carry
an umbrella. Data determine the best car to buy. Adults use data to see how their fa
vorite team is doing. They use data when they read charts and graphs in the newspa
per or in a magazine. Being able to read charts and graphs, interpret the data
contained, and make decisions based on the information they have gleaned is an im
portant skill for everyone. However, adults cannot make sound decisions unless they
understand where the data originated.
Charts and graphs are essential in the workplace. According to the SCANS Report,
Todays workers must have reading skills that enable them to read well enough to
understand and interpret diagrams, directories, correspondence, manuals, records,
charts, graphs, tables, and specifications. Data collection, analysis, and graphing are
essential skills in the workplace. These same skills are also essential for the student
who wishes to pass the GED Mathematics Test.
Statistical knowledge is another very important area for students in their roles at
home, work, and in school. Although students are often unaware of how frequently
statistics play a role in their lives, they are bombarded by statistics from print and
electronic media. Sometimes, statistics lead students to make decisions that are not
always in their own best interest. When students are comfortable with math, they can
use that knowledge to help them develop their own statistics, which may lead to bet
ter decisionmaking skills.
Students need to understand how to collect data, how to put it together into an easy
tounderstand format, and then how to interpret what they have found. The GED
Mathematics Test includes a large percentage of graphicbased material presented in
the form of graphs, charts, and tables. Students who dont know how to construct
these materials have a much more difficult time interpreting them than do students
who are comfortable with these skills.
Students also need to understand the basic terminology of statistics. When faced with
a term like mean age in survey results, students should know that this term refers to
the average age of those surveyed. Students should also be able to develop ques
tions that can be addressed with data. They should be able to use appropriate statis
tical methods to analyze data and to determine measures of central tendency,
including the mean, median, and mode of a data set. They should also be able to
compare and contrast sets of data. Each of these skills is necessary for the GED
Mathematics Test as well as for making reasonable decisions in reallife situations.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 36
Probability is another important area on the test as well as in real life. Probability is
the study of chance. It tells a person how likely it is that an event will happen. Stu
dents should be able to apply basic concepts of probability and compute probability.
Although students often have difficulty with probability, they use it in their daily lives
every time they listen to a weather report or when they hear the chances for winning
the big lottery on Saturday night.
About 2030 percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test are in the area
of Data and Statistics. The skills tested include:
yconstruct, interpret, and draw inferences from tables, charts, and graphs.
ymake inferences and convincing arguments that are based on data analysis.
yevaluate arguments that are based on data analysis, including distinguishing be
tween correlation and causation.
yrepresent data graphically in ways that make sense and are appropriate to the
context.
yapply measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode) and analyze the effect
of changes in data on these measures.
yuse an informal line of best fit to develop a prediction from data.
yapply and recognize sampling and bias in statistical claims.
ymake predictions that are based on experimental or theoretical probabilities, in
cluding listing possible outcomes.
ycompare and contrast different sets of data on the basis of measures of central
tendency and dispersion.
Algebra, Functions, and Patterns
The Conference on Adult Mathematical Literacy voted on informal algebra as one of
the four basic topics to include in adult numeracy. The National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics considers algebra an essential skill for all students. However, adults
generally will indicate that they see no use for algebra in real life, unless ones job re
quires it, such as that of an electrician. Most adult students see algebra as something
that contains xs and ys and has no real use in everyday life. Math teachers see alge
bra as a tool for problem solving.
Although adult students may not readily accept the relevancy of algebra, understand
ing algebra allows them to recognize and analyze patterns and number relationships
that connect math to the real world. Algebra is about observing patterns and describ
ing those patterns with symbols to find out if those patterns always occur. Many
adults encounter algebra everyday, but just dont recognize it. For example, many
times companies will calculate increases in wages by using a formula. That formula
may include factors related to how long the person has been on the job, the evalua
tion the person received, and the current salary scale for the position. In correctional
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 37
programs, for example, release time is calculated using a formula including items
such as good behavior and work release activities.
The key to changing attitudes about algebra is to show the connection between alge
bra and real life. Changing the pace of instruction can also help students get comfort
able with new concepts. Sometimes students dont have ample time to process
information and become comfortable with it before moving on to higher levels of in
struction. Students need time to understand the language of algebra and to realize
that all they are really doing is searching for the unknown. Equations are nothing
more than number sentences.
About 2030 percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test are in the area
of Algebra. The skills tested include:
yanalyze and represent situations involving variable quantities with tables, graphs,
verbal descriptions, and equations.
yrecognize that a variety of problem situations may be modeled by the same func
tion or type of function (e.g., y = mx + b, y = ax
2
, y = a
x
, y = 1/x).
yconvert between different representations, such as tables, graphs, verbal descrip
tions, and equations.
ycreate and use algebraic expressions and equations to model situations and solve
problems.
yevaluate formulas.
ysolve equations, including first degree, quadratic, power, and systems of linear
equations.
yrecognize and use direct and indirect variation.
yanalyze tables and graphs to identify and generalize patterns and relationships.
yanalyze and use functional relationships to explain how a change in one quantity
results in change in another quantity, including linear, quadratic, and exponential
functions.
The GED Mathematics Test incorporates realistic tasks with which the adult student
has had experience. The situations are natural, rather than contrived, and deal with
the world of work, consumerism, technology, family experiences, and realworld situa
tions.
The GED Mathematics Test includes three types of questions. These questions are
designed to assess a students ability to apply math skills in different situations. The
question types are: procedural, conceptual, and application.
Cognitive Demands
of the GED
Mathematics Test
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 38
Procedural Questions
Procedural questions require a student to select and apply the appropriate process
for solving a problem. Approximately 20 percent of the questions on the GED Mathe
matics Test will be procedural. Procedural questions include these types of skills:
yselect and apply the correct operation or procedure to solve a problem.
yverify and justify the correctness of a procedure using concrete models or sym
bolic methods.
ymodify procedures to deal with factors inherent in problem settings.
yuse numerical algorithms.
yread and interpret graphs, charts, and tables.
yexecute geometric constructions.
yround, estimate, and order numbers as needed in a given situation.
EXAMPLE
The warehouse is shipping 6832 calculators. If each box can contain 28 calculators,
how many boxes will be needed for the shipment?
(1) 79
(2) 154
(3) 169
(4) 244
(5) 239
One possible solution to find the number of boxes needed is to divide the number of
calculators by the number per box. There are a variety of ways to solve this problem;
the following is one example provided by the GED Testing Service:
yboxes needed = number of calculators number of calculators per box
yboxes needed = 6832 28
yboxes needed = 244
Conceptual Questions
Conceptual questions require a student to demonstrate knowledge of how basic math
concepts and principles work. In some conceptual problems, students will be required
to identify how to solve a problem, but they will not be required to actually compute
the answer. Approximately 30 percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test
assess conceptual understanding. These questions assess the ability to:
yrecognize and label basic mathematical concepts.
ygenerate examples and counterexamples of concepts.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 39
yinterrelate models, diagrams, and representatives of math concepts.
yidentify and apply concepts and principles of mathematics.
yknow and apply facts and definitions.
ycompare, contrast, and integrate related concepts and principles.
yrecognize, interpret, and apply signs, symbols, and mathematical terms.
yinterpret assumptions and relationships.
EXAMPLE
Shane is working with a spreadsheet on his computer. The spreadsheet will calculate
the cost of the wood trim around rectangular windows based on the dimensions of the
window and the price of the wood. The following entries have been made.
Length of
window in feet
Width of window
in feet
Price per foot
of wood trim
Cost of trim for
window
A7 B7 C7
Shane wants to enter a formula in the last column so that the spreadsheet will calcu
late the final cost of the job. Which of the following formulas should he enter?
(1) A7 B7 C7
(2) (2 A7 + 2 B7) C7
(3) A7 + B7 + C7
(4) (A7 + B7) C7
(5) A7 B7 + C7
This problem requires that students analyze the data provided and then solve for pe
rimeter. This requires that students demonstrate their ability to use data in order to ar
rive at an appropriate answer.
Application/Modeling/Problem Solving
These questions assess the students ability to apply mathematical principles and
problemsolving strategies. About 50 percent of the questions on the GED Mathemat
ics Test involve the skills of application, modeling, or problem solving. These ques
tions require the ability to:
yrecognize and identify the type of problem that is represented.
ydecide whether or not there is sufficient information provided to solve a problem.
yselect only the information that is necessary to solve a given problem.
yapply the appropriate problemsolving strategy to compute an answer.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 310
yadapt strategies or procedures to solve a problem.
ydetermine whether an answer is reasonable and correct.
EXAMPLE
Byron purchased a $5000 certificate of deposit (CD) at his local bank. The CD will
pay him 7 percent simple interest at the end of two years. In dollars, how much
INTEREST will Byron have earned from his CD at the end of the twoyear period?
Mark your answer in the circles in the grid on your answer sheet. The formula for
simple interest is found on the formulas page in the front of the GED Mathematics
Test.
The following format uses the formula from the GED Mathematics Test Formulas
Page.
ysimple interest = principal rate time
ysimple interest = $5000 0.07 2
ysimple interest = $700
Twenty percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test require students to
construct an answer. These questions are called alternate format questions, and they
require that students record their answers on standard or coordinate plane grids. Al
ternate format questions are found on both parts of the test.
The GED Testing Service has found that students have relatively few problems with
the standard grid as long as they have had at least an introduction to the grids in their
instructional programs. At the testing center, students have an opportunity to view a
video and review directions for completing grids that are included in the math test
booklet before taking the GED Mathematics Test. However, it is important that teach
ers spend time showing students how to properly align their answers and how to ac
curately fill in each bubble. It is also important that students erase answers that they
no longer want and any stray marks. The more practice students have, the more com
fortable they become with this format and, therefore, the less likely they are to make
careless mistakes.
Alternate Format
Questions
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 311
The standard grid has five columns and thirteen rows.
Students should write their answers in the top row and then bubble in the correspond
ing symbols or numbers that represent their answer. The GED Mathematics Test
scoring software does not read the answer provided in the top row; instead, it reads
the bubbles. Students can rightjustify, leftjustify, or center their answers. However, it
is good teaching practice to have students maintain consistency when writing and
bubbling their answers.
The following are common errors exhibited by students when bubbling in responses.
Teachers should take time to review with students the proper procedure for bubbling,
so that they do not make careless errors when taking the test.
BUBBLE IN SINGLE SKIP COLUMNS FAIL TO BUBBLE
COLUMN
Coordinate Plane Grids
The GED Mathematics Test assesses a students ability to plot points on a coordinate
plane grid. There is one coordinate plane grid on each part of the GED Mathematics
Test. For students to be successful in plotting points on a coordinate plane grid, they
must have a basic understanding of integers (positive and negative), as well as the
layout of a coordinate plane grid.
The coordinate plane grid consists of 13 rows and 13 columns. The center row is
called the xaxis; it runs horizontally through the grid. The center column is called the
The top row
is used to
write in the
answer.
The third
row contains
decimals.
The second
row contains
fraction marks
( / ).
The last ten
rows contain
the number
09.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 312
yaxis; it runs vertically through the grid. There are four quadrants on a coordinate
plane. Each one has been labeled for you.
Questions on the GED Mathematics Test require that students be able to plot ordered
pairs. Coordinate plane grid questions require that students plot only one pair. None
of the questions require that they plot more than one point on the coordinate plane
grid.
The GED Mathematics Test allows for the use of a calculator only on Part I of the
test. The test does not assess the students ability to use a calculator, but rather pro
vides an opportunity for the student to use the calculator to avoid tedious calculations.
By allowing the use of the calculator, the GED Mathematics Test can also incorporate
numbers that better reflect what students encounter in their daily lives. For example, a
reallife problem may refer to the purchase of a stereo for $349.99 at 6.25% interest
over 2 years.
Students are not expected to know how to use all of the various function keys on the
Casio fx260 Solar calculator. However, they should know how to complete basic op
erations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), as well as work with frac
tions, decimals, percents, squares, square roots, and exponents.
It is very important that students have ample time to practice using the Casio fx260
Solar. Practice with the Casio ensures that students are comfortable with the calcula
tor and do not have to waste time searching for specific keys. Although students are
not required to use the calculator on Part I, virtually all students do. Students unfamil
iar with the operation of the Casio fx260 Solar may run out of time and not complete
Part I of the test in the allotted time.
A calculator guide is included in Appendix B4. This guide may be reproduced and
provided to students. Sample activities and games that provide practice in the use of
the Casio fx260 Solar calculator are also included in Appendix B6.
Quadrant 2
xpoint must be
negative; ypoint
must be positive
(2, 3)
Quadrant 3
both x and y point
plotted in this
quadrant must be
negative (2, 3)
Quadrant 1
both x and y points
plotted in this
quadrant must be
positive (2, 3)
Quadrant 4
xpoint must be
positive; ypoint
must be negative
(2, 3)
Scientific Calculator
y
x
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 313
At a GlanceThe GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test
The GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test is aligned with
both state and national standards and consists of two
equally weighted parts. Part I allows for the use of the
calculator. Part II does not allow calculator use. Both
parts include alternate format questions in which an
swers are placed on a grid. There are two types of grids
used on the test: the standard grid and the coordinate
plane grid.
A formulas page is included for student use during the
test. In addition, directions are provided for correctly
filling the grids and using the calculator.
The GED Mathematics Test includes questions from
four major areas. Each area represents about 2030
percent of the total questions. The following lists provide
information on the content within each of the four major
areas.
Number Operations and Number Sense
yrepresent and use numbers in a variety of equivalent
forms (integer, fraction, decimal, percent, exponen
tial, and scientific) in realworld and mathematical
problem situations
yrepresent, analyze, and apply whole numbers, deci
mals, fractions, percents, ratios, proportions, expo
nents, roots, and scientific notation in a wide variety
of situations
yrecognize equivalencies and order relations for
whole numbers, fractions, decimals, integers, and ra
tional numbers
yselect the appropriate operations to solve problems
(for example, When should I divide?)
yrelate basic arithmetic operations to one another
ycalculate with mental math, pencil and paper, and a
scientific calculator using whole numbers, fractions,
decimals, and integers
yuse estimation to solve problems and assess the
reasonableness of an answer
Measurement and Geometry
ymodel and solve problems using the concepts of
perpendicularity, parallelism, congruence, and simi
larity of geometric figures
yuse spatial visualization skills to describe and ana
lyze geometric figures and translations/rotations of
geometric figures
yuse the Pythagorean Theorem to model and solve
problems
yfind, use, and interpret the slope of a line, the y
intercept of a line, and the intersection of two lines
yuse coordinates to design and describe geometric
figures
yidentify and select appropriate units of metric and
customary measures
yconvert and estimate units of metric and customary
measure (all conversions within systems)
ysolve and estimate solutions to problems involving
length, perimeter, area, surface area, volume, angle
measurement, capacity, weight, and mass
yuse uniform rates (e.g., miles per hour, bushels per
acre) in problem situations
yread and interpret scales, meters, and gauges
ypredict the impact of changes in linear dimension on
the perimeter, area, and volume of figures.
Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
yconstruct, interpret, and draw inferences from tables,
charts, and graphs
ymake inferences and convincing arguments that are
based on data analysis
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 314
yevaluate arguments that are based on data analysis,
including distinguishing between correlation and
causation
yrepresent data graphically in ways that make sense
and are appropriate to the context
yapply measures of central tendency (mean, median,
mode) and analyze the effect of changes in data on
these measures
yuse an informal line of best fit to predict from data
yapply and recognize sampling and bias in statistical
claims
ymake predictions that are based on experimental or
theoretical probabilities, including listing possible
outcomes
ycompare and contrast different sets of data on the
basis of measures of central tendency and disper
sion
Algebra, Functions, and Patterns
yanalyze and represent situations involving variable
quantities with tables, graphs, verbal descriptions,
and equations
yrecognize that a variety of problem situations may be
modeled by the same function or type of function
(e.g., y = mx + b, y = ax
2
, y = a
x
, y = 1/x)
yconvert between different representations, such as
tables, graphs, verbal descriptions, and equations
ycreate and use algebraic expressions and equations
to model situations and solve problems
yevaluate formulas
ysolve equations, including first degree, quadratic,
power, and systems of linear equations
yrecognize and use direct and indirect variation
yanalyze tables and graphs to identify and generalize
patterns and relationships
yanalyze and use functional relationships to explain
how a change in one quantity results in change in
another quantity, including linear, quadratic, and ex
ponential functions
Cognitive Skills and Question Types
The GED Mathematics Test includes three types of
questions. The questions are designed to assess how
well students can demonstrate their ability to apply
mathematical skills in a variety of reallife situations.
The question types include:
yProcedural questions which account for approxi
mately 20 percent of the test
yConceptual questions which account for approxi
mately 30 percent of the test
yApplication/Modeling/Problem Solving which account
for approximately 50 percent of the test
PROCEDURAL QUESTIONS
Procedural questions require students to select and
apply the appropriate process for solving a problem.
These questions require students to:
yselect and apply the correct operation or procedure
to solve a problem.
yverify and justify the correctness of the procedure
using concrete models or symbolic methods.
ymodify procedures to deal with factors inherent in
problem settings.
yuse numerical algorithms.
yread and interpret graphs, charts, and tables.
yexecute geometric constructions.
yround, estimate, and order numbers as needed in a
given situation.
Example
The warehouse is shipping 6832 calculators. If each box
can contain 28 calculators, how many boxes will be
needed for the shipment?
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
79 154 169 244 239
One of many ways to find the answer is to divide the
number of calculators by the number per box.
Chapter 3GED 2002 Series Mathematics Test 315
CONCEPTUAL QUESTIONS
Conceptual questions require students to demonstrate
knowledge of how basic mathematical concepts and
principles work. In some conceptual questions, students
are required to identify how to solve a problem, but they
are not required to actually compute the answer. These
questions require students to:
yrecognize and label basic mathematical concepts.
ygenerate examples and counterexamples of con
cepts.
yinterrelate models, diagrams, and representatives of
math concepts.
yidentify and apply concepts and principles of mathe
matics.
yknow and apply facts and definitions.
ycompare, contrast, and integrate related concepts
and principles.
yrecognize, interpret, and apply signs, symbols, and
mathematical terms.
yinterpret assumptions and relationships.
Example
Shane is working with a spreadsheet on his computer.
The spreadsheet will calculate the cost of the wood trim
around rectangular windows based on the dimensions
of the window and the price of the wood. The following
entries have been made.
Shane wants to enter a formula in the last column so
that the spreadsheet will calculate the final cost of the
job. Which of the following formulas should he enter?
(1) A7 B7 C7
(2) (2 A7 + 2 B7) C7
(3) A7 + B7 + C7
(4) (A7 + B7) C7
(5) A7 B7 + C7
This problem requires that students analyze the data
provided and then solve for perimeter. This requires that
students demonstrate their ability to use data in order to
arrive at an appropriate answer.
APPLICATION/MODELING/PROBLEM SOLVING
QUESTIONS
Application/modeling/problem solving questions require
students to apply mathematical principles and problem
solving strategies. These questions require students to:
yrecognize and identify the type of problem that is
represented.
ydecide whether or not there is sufficient information
provided to solve a problem.
yselect only the information that is necessary to solve
a given problem.
yapply the appropriate problemsolving strategy to
compute an answer.
yadapt strategies or procedures to solve a problem.
ydetermine whether an answer is reasonable and
correct.
Example
Byron purchased a $5000 certificate of deposit (CD) at
his local bank. The CD will pay him 7 percent simple
interest at the end of two years. In dollars, how much
INTEREST will Byron have earned from his CD at the
end of the twoyear period?
Mark your answer in the circles in the grid on your an
swer sheet.
Students need to access the formula for simple interest,
which is found on the formulas page in the front of the
GED Mathematics Test.
Length of
window
in feet
Width of
window in
feet
Price per
foot of wood
trim
Cost of
trim for
window
A7 B7 C7
Chapter 4Geometry and Measurement 41
C H A P T E R 4
Geometry and Measurement
According to the analysis of GEDTS data, geometry is an area with which students
have difficulty. The data indicates that GED candidates often lack the procedural abili
ties needed to read and extract information necessary to solve a problem. Although a
formulas page is included as part the GED Mathematics Test, candidates had diffi
culty understanding conceptually how to set up problems to be solved.
Because of the difficulty that GED candidates have in setting up and solving geomet
ric problems, it is important that students discover why formulas work, so that they
can then apply them in different settings.
According to the analysis of the GED Mathematics Test, skill gaps identified among
GED candidates include the inability to:
yRecognize visual cues in order apply the correct formula.
yUnderstand and apply the Pythagorean Theorem to different situations. GED can
didates were most likely to make conceptual errors when attempting to answer
these questions. They incorrectly applied the formula by adding or subtracting the
sides of the triangle. This error pattern indicates that the candidates did not pos
sess a deep understanding of possible triangles.
yPartition irregular shapes to calculate area. GED candidates lacked the problem
solving skills necessary to view different ways of calculating area by separating a
complex problem into simpler component parts.
yCompare properties of geometric figures of different shapes. GED candidates did
not correctly apply numerical algorithms when asked to increase and/or decrease
the sides of a figure and calculate the percentage of change.
yExpress a mathematical problem using variables. Conceptual question types were
difficult for GED candidates to answer, especially when variables, rather than nu
meric values, were used.
yUnderstand the relationships between angles and parallel lines.
GeometryMost
Missed Questions
Chapter 4Geometry and Measurement 42
The following are examples of GEDtype questions for each area that simulate the
types of questions most often missed by GED candidates. The following questions
were developed by Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Mathematics Specialist. They address
each of the areas in graphic literacy identified by the analysis of the GED Mathemat
ics Test.
Sample Question
In the following diagram of the front view of the Great Pyramid, the measure of the
angle PRQ is 120 degrees, the measure of the angle PQR is 24 degrees, and the
measure of the angle PST is 110 degrees. What is the measure of the angle RPS in
degrees?
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This question requires that candidates grid their answers. They do not have numeric
clues as to what type of number the question is seeking. From the analysis, it ap
peared that GED candidates were unable to locate the necessary angle and lacked
an understanding of angles, including the degrees in specific types of polygons. It is
important that students understand:
yThere are 180 degrees in every triangle.
yThere are 180 degrees in a line.
In words, students need to understand that:
yAngle PRQ = 120 degrees so Angle PRS has 60 degrees
(180 degrees 120 degrees = 60 degrees)
yAngle PST has 110 degrees so Angle PSR has 70 degrees
(180 degrees 110 degrees = 70 degrees)
ySo, triangle PRS has 60 + 70 degrees in two of its angles to equal 130 degrees
(60 degrees + 70 degrees = 130 degrees)
yTherefore, the third angle RPS is 180 130 degrees or 50 degrees.
(180 degrees 130 degrees = 50 degrees)
GEDType
Question Samples
Chapter 4Geometry and Measurement 43
Sample Question
One end of a 50ft cable is attached to the top of a 48ft tower. The other end of the
cable is attached to the ground perpendicular to the base of the tower at a distance x
feet from the base.
What is the measure, in feet, of x?
(1) 2
(2) 4
(3) 7
(4) 12
(5) 14
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This is an example of a classic Pythagorean Theorem question. However, GED can
didates did not attempt to use the formula. Instead they subtracted 48 from 50 to ob
tain the answer (1) 2. Although not noted by GEDTS, another difficulty students may
have on similar problems is that they do not understand that the square root is the
opposite of squaring a number.
Sample Question
The height of an Aframe storage shed is 12 ft. The distance from the center of the
floor to a side of the shed is 5 ft.
What is the measure, in feet, of x?
(1) 13
(2) 14
(3) 15
(4) 16
(5) 17
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This is an example of a classic Pythagorean Theorem question. However, GED can
didates did not attempt to use the formula. Instead they added 12 and 5 to obtain the
answer (5) 17. This question looks different from the first item on Pythagorean Theo
rem because the height is calculated within the triangular figure rather than on the
side. GED candidates must understand that the measure of any side of a triangle
must be less than the sum of the measures of the other two.
Tower
48 ft.
x
50 ft.
side x
Height 12 ft
5 ft.
Chapter 4Geometry and Measurement 44
Sample Question
An Lshaped flower garden is shown by the shaded area in the diagram. All intersect
ing segments are perpendicular.
What is the area of the garden?
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
Although this is a simple calculation problem, GED candidates did not partition the
figure into simpler segments in order to figure the area accurately. GED candidates
may not always see a simple solution for a problem and thus create an incorrect algo
rithm to solve the problem.
Sample Question
Which expression represents the area of the rectangle?
(1) 2x
(2) x
2
(3) x
2
4
(4) x
2
+ 4
(5) x
2
4x 4
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This question requires that GED candidates have conceptual understanding of what
formula represents area. This is an example of where substituting a number for the
variable would have assisted the candidate in correlating an answer to each of the
expressions.
House
6 ft
6 ft
20 ft
32 ft
x + 2
x 2
Chapter 4Geometry and Measurement 45
Measurement and geometry are used daily in real life. Instructors should take advan
tage of everyday situations to help their students build confidence and competency
with geometric topics. Moving towards teaching in context requires that the instructor
incorporate more large and smallgroup activities into the classroom and use more
reallife materials.
The following is a beginning list of materials that could be used to provide more con
textbased instruction in the areas of measurement and geometry:
yProvide students with realworld experiences when teaching geometric concepts.
This will allow students to explore how and why formulas and theorems exist, as
well as develop application skills. Sample activities for measurement and geome
try could include:
 Developing a road trip through using maps and distance formulas.
 Making a recipe where proportions must be increased or decreased in
measurement.
 Using realworld measurement tools for a project, such as remodeling the
classroom. Students would need to have appropriate measurements to ob
tain the necessary information for how much paint, flooring, molding, etc.,
would be needed, as well as setting up the room design by using a scale
model of the room and furniture for purposes of arrangement
yHave students explore and research how they use geometry in the workplace or in
their daily lives. Build on students own understanding of measurement and ge
ometry. Sometimes students use certain math processes without being able to
use the correct terms for them.
yFocus on angle relationships. Have students locate all of the different types of an
gles in the classroom and explore angle relationships.
yHave students build the ideal school. Building uses many of the geometric for
mulas and applications with which students need to be familiar. Begin by having
students think about what it takes to build a school. Have them develop questions
that must be asked, such as:
 What shape will the building be?
 How many classrooms are needed?
 How many square feet are required for the appropriate number of
classrooms?
 How many and what size of windows and doors will be used?
 What size parking lot is needed?
Have students develop a blueprint that includes their ideas for the perfect school.
Incorporating
Geometry into the
Classroom
Geometry and Measurement
1
Connecting the Data: Geometry and
Measurement
Bonnie Vondracek Susan Pittman
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
Geometry and Measurement
2
Slide 22
GED 2002 Series Tests
Math = Experiences
One picture tells a
thousand words;
one experience tells a
thousand pictures.
Weve all heard such phrases as the face
that launched a thousand ships or picture is
worth a thousand words. However, we
should not forget that math is also a very
experiential subject. We do not learn
mathematical concepts merely through rote
memorization or reading a textbook. We need
to help our students to access reallife
experiences or provide those experiences if
we want them to be true problem solvers
rather than having them capable of merely
parroting facts that we have provided.
Throughout this workshop, you will
experience and discover connections within
those areas that GED candidates exhibit the
most difficulty and will hopefully share your
own personal experiences and expertise with
others.
But before we begin our exploration of those
specific areas that provide students with the
most difficulty, lets take a few minutes to
look at who our GED students are.
Geometry and Measurement
3
Slide 33
Who are GED Candidates?
Average Age 24.7 years
Gender 55.1% male; 44.9% female
Ethnicity
52.3% White
18.1% Hispanic Origin
21.5% African American
2.7% American Indian or Alaska Native
1.7% Asian
0.6% Pacific Islander/Hawaiian
Average Grade Completed 10.0
Who are our GED students? Have they
changed over the years? According to the
annual statistical report, there have been
some changes. It is important in the teaching
of mathematics to know who our students
are.
[Note: Information is obtained from Who
Passed the GED Tests? 2004 an annual
statistical report produced by the General
Educational Development Testing Service of
the American Council on Education.]
Geometry and Measurement
4
Slide 44
Statistics from GEDTS
Standard Score Statistics for Mathematics
Mathematics continues to be the most
difficult content area for GED candidates.
501 490 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Passers
469 460 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Completers
Mean Median
Each year, GEDTS analyzes the statistical
data for the three operational versions of the
GED Test. In 2004, the most recent year for
statistics, the average score in mathematics
for all GED completers in the United States
was a 469. The score for those GED
candidates who passed the GED was a 501.
The minimal score for passing each GED
subtest is a 410 with an overall average
requirement for all five subtests at a 450.
Although the 469 and 501 appear to be
adequate scores, mathematics continues to
be the lowest average score among the five
subtests. As in the past, mathematics
continues to be the most difficult content
area for GED candidates.
[Note: The first set of mathematics scores are
based on each candidates best score earned
in 2004 and is based on all U.S. completers.
The GED standard score for all GED passers in
2004 in the area of mathematics was an
average of 501.]
However, a mean or median score does not
provide the type of information that is most
helpful to an instructor who wishes to assist
students in attaining better math skills and
ultimately a passing score on the GED
Mathematics Test. This requires a more
intensive study of question types and those
which are missed most often by students who
do not pass the test.
Geometry and Measurement
5
Slide 55
Statistics from GEDTS
Top 60% 450
Top 55% 460
Top 50% 500
Top 40% 520
Top 33% 530
Top 25% 550
Top 20% 570
Top 15% 580
Top 10% 610
Top 5% 640
Top 3% 660
Top 2% 670
Top 1% 700
Estimated National Class Rank GED Standard Score
Source: 2001 GED Testing Service Data
GED Standard Score and Estimated National Class Rank
of Graduating U.S. High School Seniors, 2001
Remember the 469. Take a look at the chart
that correlates a GED Standard Score to an
Estimated National Class Ranking. Would you
feel comfortable that students who
graduated in the bottom half of the class
would possess higher order mathematics
skills? Probably not. Students who function
within the range of 12 SEMs below the
passing score or who pass with a minimal
score need to develop improved
mathematical thinking skills in order to be
successful in both postsecondary education
and in the workforce.
Geometry and Measurement
6
Slide 66
Statistical Study
There is a story often told about the
writer Gertrude Stein. As she lay on her
deathbed, a brave friend leaned over and
whispered to her, Gertrude, what is the
answer? With all her strength, Stein
lifted her head from the pillow and
replied, What is the question?
Then she died.
[Note: You may wish to use this short story as
a lead into an overview on the statistical
study.]
Geometry and Measurement
7
Slide 77
The Question Is . . .
GEDTS Statistical Study for Mathematics
Results were obtained from three operational test
forms.
Used the top 40% of the most frequently missed test
items.
These items represented 40% of the total items on
the test forms.
Study focused on those candidates who passed (410
standard score) +/ 1 SEM called the NEAR group
(N=107,163), and those candidates whose standard
scores were +/ 2 SEMs below passing called the
BELOW group (N=10,003).
GEDTS Conference, July 2005
Review with the participants how the
information for the statistical study was
obtained. GED candidates who were NEAR
passing and those with scores BELOW passing
became the target groups for the study. By
focusing on these groups, the most
troubling/difficult items in the area of the
GED Mathematics Test were identified. One
SEM equates to approximately 50 points.
Geometry and Measurement
8
Slide 88
Most Missed Questions
How are the questions distributed
between the two halves of the test?
Total number of questions examined: 48
Total from Part I (calculator): 24
Total from Part II (no calculator): 24
Discuss that when the GED 2002 Series
Mathematics Test was first developed, many
people were concerned that the calculator
would create a less challenging test. The
analysis supports that this is an untrue
statement. Of the items most often missed,
an equal number were located on each part
of the test. The use of the calculator made
no difference in a student providing a correct
answer for the most frequently missed
questions.
Geometry and Measurement
9
Slide 99
Math Themes: Geometry and
Measurement
The notion of building
understanding in geometry across
the grades, from informal to formal
thinking, is consistent with the
thinking of theorists and
researchers.
(NCTM 2000, p. 41)
Do you sleep on a rectangle, drink out of a
cylinder, eat ice cream from a cone, or have
meals at a square table? Then you have
experienced geometry. Geometry touches on
every aspect of our lives. It is important to
explore the shapes, lines, angles, and space
that are woven into our students daily lives
as well as our own. In fact geo means earth
and metry to measure. So its not unusual
to think of geometry as reallife types of
measurement.
Geometry is the development of spatial sense
and the actual measuring and the concepts
related to units of measure. As with all areas
of mathematics, instructors should actively
involve students in activities in order to build
their understanding of geometric ideas, to
see the power and usefulness of geometry in
their lives, and to feel confident in their own
capabilities as problem solvers. When
students can be engaged in using and
applying geometric knowledge to investigate
and/or think about situations that relate to
geometry, true problem solving occurs.
[Note: If using this PowerPoint as part of a
workshop, you may wish to begin the
presentation here.]
Geometry and Measurement
10
Slide 10 10
Math Themes Most Missed
Questions
Theme 1: Geometry and
Measurement
Theme 2: Applying Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Theme 3: Reading and Interpreting
Graphs and Tables
Although geometry is indeed everywhere
around us, it is also one of the math themes
of the most missed questions.
Discuss that three primary themes were
identified by the study as being the areas in
which the GED candidates had the most
difficulty. This section of the workshop will
deal specifically with the area of geometry.
[Note: For each section of the workshop, you
may wish to begin with a math starter/math
bender. If a workshop is being conducted only
in the area of Geometry, you will also want
to include a basic icebreaker in order to
allow instructors time to introduce
themselves, as well as setting the stage for
the workshop.]
Geometry and Measurement
11
Slide 11 11
Puzzler: Exploring Patterns
What curious property do each of the
following figures share?
4
4
10
8
6
2
3
6
15
7
20
What curious property do each of the
following figures share?
Debrief the activity by having instructors
discuss what pattern(s) they discovered in the
figures.
Followup the activity by asking if this
property is true of all rectangles, squares,
circles, and triangles? Select one shape, the
rectangle, and have instructors explore what
other numerical (integer) values create this
same curious property.
Debrief the activity by having instructors
share what they have discovered about
different geometric figures.
Discuss that finding patterns is an important
skill for students to develop in mathematics,
including the area of geometry. This type of
activity provides instructors with the
opportunity to use their problemsolving skills
in the area of geometry.
[Note: This is a sample activity. You may wish
to include a different problemsolving
activity to open the workshop.]
Geometry and Measurement
12
Slide 12 12
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Do the two groups most commonly select
the same or different incorrect responses?
Its clear that both groups find the same
questions to be most difficult and both
groups are also prone to make the same
primary errors.
2 Different
13 Same
Geometry
As you know, the most frequently missed
items occurred equally on both parts of the
GED Mathematics Test. But how did each
group, Near and Below, perform on the test
items. Did these two groups miss the same
types of items or with the difference in SEM,
did they miss different types of items?
Its clear that both groups found the same
types of questions to be most difficult. Also,
as we look at the different types of questions
that were missed, you will notice that similar
error patterns also occurred. GED candidates
not only missed similar questions, but they
also selected the same incorrect answer,
known as a distracter.
Geometry and Measurement
13
Slide 13 13
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Name the type of Geometry question that
is most likely to be challenging for the
candidates
The answer! The Pythagorean Theorem
Yes Yes Yes Difficult?
Yes Yes Yes Found?
Form #3 Form #2 Form #1
What type of geometry question do you think
was most challenging for the GED candidates?
Did you say the Pythagorean Theorem? If you
did, you were correct. Questions regarding
the Pythagorean Theorem were found on
each of the three operational forms of the
GED Mathematics Test and all GED candidates
found them to be difficult.
Geometry and Measurement
14
Slide 14 14
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Pythagorean Theorem
Area, perimeter, volume
Visualizing type of formula to be used
Comparing area, perimeter, and volume of
figures
Partitioning of figures
Use of variables in a formula
Parallel lines and angles
The Pythagorean Theorem was not the only
area of difficulty for students on the GED
Mathematics Test. Students also found area,
perimeter, and volume questions to be
difficult, as well as questions that dealt with
parallel lines and angles.
[Note: The following slides will provide
instructors with sample questions similar to
those that were missed by GED candidates.
These questions have been provided by
GEDTS. They mirror exactly the question
types missed, as well as the distracters that
were selected most often by the candidates.]
Geometry and Measurement
15
Slide 15 15
Getting Started with Geometry and
Measurement!
In the following diagram of the front view of the Great
Pyramid, the measure of the angle PRQ is 120 degrees, the
measure of the angle PQR is 24 degrees, and the measure
of the angle PST is 110 degrees. What is the measure of
the angle RPS in degrees?
Read the question on the slide and have
instructors identify the types of knowledge
that students must possess in order to answer
the question.
Geometry and Measurement
16
Slide 16 16
Getting Started with Geometry and
Measurement!
Hint:
How many degrees are there in a triangle
or a straight line?
There are 180 degrees in a triangle. That is,
the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180
degrees. A straight line is 180 degrees. The
concept that both a triangle and a straight
line are 180 degrees can be difficult for some
students to comprehend. Have instructors
share sample activities that they have used to
assist students in better understanding this
concept.
[Note: One activity to assist students in
seeing that the sum of the angles of a
triangle and a straight line both equal 180
degrees is to have them cut out a triangle
and then tear the triangle apart into its three
angles. Have students arrange the angles to
form a straight line showing that the interior
angles correlate to a straight line.]
Geometry and Measurement
17
Slide 17 17
Answer
180 degrees 120 degrees = 60 degrees
180 degrees 110 degrees = 70 degrees
60 degrees + 70 degrees = 130 degrees
180 degrees 130 degrees = 50 degrees
In words, the problem would be as follows:
Angle PRQ = 120 degrees so Angle PRS has 60 degrees.
Angle PST has 110 degrees so Angle PSR has 70 degrees.
We know that the triangle PRS has 60 + 70 degrees in
two of its angles to equal 130 degrees, therefore the
third angle RPS is 180 130 degrees or 50 degrees.
Review with instructors the different steps
that students must take in order to solve this
most missed question.
Geometry and Measurement
18
Slide 18 18
.
cable
50 ft
tower
48 ft
x
(1) 2
(2) 4
(3) 7
(4) 12
(5) 14
The correct answer is (5): 14
Which incorrect alternative
would these candidates
most likely have chosen?
(1) 2 Why?
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
One end of a 50ft cable is attached to the top
of a 48ft tower. The other end of the
cable is attached to the ground
perpendicular to the base of the
tower at a distance x feet from
the base. What is the measure,
in feet, of x?
Ask instructors what type of skills this
question assesses. Instructors will share that
the question assesses a students knowledge
of the Pythagorean Theorem. Walk instructors
through which of the incorrect alternatives
that GED candidates were most likely to have
selected.
[Note: Although instructors and texts teach
Pythagorean Theorem, it appears that
students have difficulty in applying the
formula to different types of situations.
Students who missed this question selected
the distracter #1. From the analysis, it was
noted that students generally use addition or
subtraction as their first method of solving a
problem. Because the answer for subtracting
48 from 50 was one of the options, students
automatically selected this as the correct
answer.]
Geometry and Measurement
19
Slide 19 19
The height of an Aframe storage
shed is 12 ft. The distance from the
center of the floor to a side of the
shed is 5 ft. What is the measure,
in feet, of x?
(1) 13
(2) 14
(3) 15
(4) 16
(5) 17
The correct answer is (1): 13
Which incorrect alternative
would these candidates
most likely have chosen?
(5) 17 Why?
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
height
12 ft
5 ft
side x
Although this is also a question regarding the
Pythagorean Theorem, the height is indicated
by a dotted line. Again, students seem to
select addition or subtraction as their
computation of choice. In this problem,
students selected the distracter that resulted
in adding the two numbers indicated on the
graphic.
Geometry and Measurement
20
Slide 20 20
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Were either of the incorrect alternatives in the
last two questions even possible if triangles were
formed?
Theorem: The measure of any side of a triangle
must be LESS THAN the sum of the measures of
the other two sides. (This same concept forms
the basis for other questions in the domain of
Geometry.)
Comprehending whether or not a triangle is
possible is an important skill for students to
internalize. Although many students may
know the rule that the measure of any side of
a triangle must be less than the sum of the
measures of the other two sides, they need
experiences with creating possible triangles
and analyzing why other triangles are
impossible.
Geometry and Measurement
21
Slide 21 21
A
B
A: Area Perimeter Either/both
B: Area Perimeter Either/both
Perimeter
Area
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Below are rectangles A and B with no text. For
each, do you think that a question would be
asked about area or perimeter?
Visualizing what math terminology means is
important in order for students to identify
the correct formula to use. Discuss with
instructors the need for students to have
reallife experiences with area and perimeter
in order to understand what the formulas
really mean. One cue for students when
taking the test is to identify which figures
indicate area versus perimeter. On the GED
Mathematics Test, area is always represented
by a shaded figure; whereas, perimeter
figures are not.
[Note: This visual distinction is always used
on the GED Mathematics Test. However,
students must understand that in real life this
distinction is not generally available.]
Geometry and Measurement
22
Slide 22 22
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Area by Partitioning
An Lshaped flower garden is shown by the
shaded area in the diagram. All intersecting
segments are perpendicular.
house
6 ft
6 ft
20 ft
32 ft
Have instructors partition (cut) the L
shaped area into shapes whose areas GED
candidates could likely find. Have them label
the dimensions appropriate for finding area
and compare their partitioning with someone
near them. Many students look at this type of
question and give up. They dont believe that
they have enough information because they
dont know the dimensions of the house.
Instructors should have students actually
cut the figure in order to understand the
concept of partitioning. Also, using a hands
on approach is excellent for students whose
learning strength is not visual, but rather
kinesthetic.
Remind instructors that the shaded area
would indicate that, on the GED Mathematics
Test, students would be calculating the area
of the shaded portion.
Geometry and Measurement
23
Slide 23 23
house
6 ft
6 ft
20 ft
32 ft
32 ft
6 ft
6 ft
14 ft
32 6 = 192
+ 14 6 = 84
276 ft
2
6 ft
6 ft
26 ft
20 ft
26 6 = 156
+ 20 6 = 120
276 ft
2
6 ft
6 ft
6 ft
6 ft 26 ft
14 ft 26 6 = 156
+ 14 6 = 84
+ 6 6 = 36
276 ft
2
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
[Note: Have instructors share with the group
what types of partitioning they used in order
to solve the problem. See whether or not
different methods were used from the above
possibilities. Ask whether or not there are
other possible ways to solve the problem.
What would those methods be?]
Have instructors brainstorm different types of
lessons that they could use to reinforce the
concept of partitioning.
Geometry and Measurement
24
Slide 24 24
x + 2
x 2
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Which expression represents the area of the rectangle?
(1) 2x
(2) x
2
(3) x
2
4
(4) x
2
+ 4
(5) x
2
4x 4
Is this an area or perimeter problem? How
would you teach students to solve this
problem if their algebra skills are not strong?
Have you ever used substitution? For some
candidates, the presence of variables in a
question can cause significant concern. A
testtaker with algebra skills will be able to
answer some questions more quickly than
someone who does not have or cannot recall
these concepts. However, there are other
ways to determine the correct solution for a
multiplechoice question. Substitution is one
method.
[Note: When any number can be chosen,
avoid selecting 0 or 1. Each of these numbers
can lead to a solution that appears to be
correct but may not be. Also, remind
instructors that because the figure is shaded,
on the GED Mathematics Test, students would
be asked to find the area.]
Geometry and Measurement
25
Slide 25 25
x + 2
x 2
(1) 2x
(2) x
2
(3) x
2
4
(4) x
2
+ 4
(5) x
2
4x 4
Choose a number for x.
I choose 8. Do you see any
restrictions? Determine
the answer numerically.
(8 + 2 = 10; 8 2 = 6; 10 6 = 60)
Which alternative yields that value?
2 8 = 16; not correct (60).
8
2
= 64; not correct.
8
2
4 = 64 4 = 60; correct!
8
2
+ 4 = 64 + 4 = 68.
8
2
4(8) 4 = 64 32 4 = 28
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Discuss that substitution is a strategy that can
be used in calculation problems as well.
Provide instructors with different examples
of how students can use substitution to solve
a problem. Identify different conditions that
should exist when identifying a number to
substitute for x, such as it should be larger
than 2, easy to calculate, such as a single
digit number, and one that is not a fraction
or decimal. The example uses the number 8
to substitute for x.
The process of substituting values for
variables is not the most timeefficient way
to find the correct answer. However, it is an
approach that should be considered if the
GED candidate cannot recall necessary
algebra skills. Candidates should consider
working on these problems last so that they
will have enough time to also work on other
questions.
[Note: Have instructors urge students to
consider checking their work by selecting
another value for the variable and evaluating
that the alternative is the same.]
Geometry and Measurement
26
Slide 26 26
a
b
8 7
6 5
4 3
2 1
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Parallel Lines
If a  b, ANY pair of angles above will satisfy one of these two
equations:
x = y x + y = 180
Which one would you pick?
If the angles look equal (and the lines are parallel), they are!
If they dont appear to be equal, theyre not!
Have instructors identify which expression
they would select and why.
[Note: Reinforce with instructors that if the
angles look equal and the lines look parallel,
they are. If they dont appear to be equal
and the lines dont look to be parallel, they
are not. The GED Mathematics Test makes a
clear distinction with equal versus nonequal
angles and lines.]
Geometry and Measurement
27
Slide 27 27
parallelograms
4 3
2 1
8 7
6 5
trapezoids
These are
not parallel.
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Where else are candidates likely to use the relationships
among angles related to parallel lines?
Where else are students likely to use the
relationships among angles related to parallel
lines?
Have instructors brainstorm different types of
scenarios where their students would use
relationships regarding angles related to
parallel lines.
Geometry and Measurement
28
Slide 28 28
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Comparing Areas/Perimeters/Volumes
A rectangular garden had a length of 20 feet and a
width of 10 feet. The length was increased by 50%,
and the width was decreased by 50% to form a new
garden. How does the area of the new garden
compare to the area of the original garden?
The area of the new garden is
(1) 50% less
(2) 25% less
(3) the same
(4) 25% greater
(5) 50% greater
Another most missed question deals with
comparing areas, perimeters, and volumes.
Which distracter do you think students
selected most often? What strategy would you
teach so that students would more likely
select the correct answer?
Geometry and Measurement
29
Slide 29 29
original garden
20 ft (length)
10 ft
(width)
Area:
20 10 = 200 ft
2
new garden
5 ft
30 ft
Area:
30 5 = 150 ft
2
The new area is 50 ft
2
less; 50/200 = 1/4 = 25% less.
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Many students are not visual learners. By
drawing a picture of what the question is
asking, students are more likely to set up the
equation correctly.
Geometry and Measurement
30
Slide 30 30
original garden
20 ft (length)
10 ft
(width)
Area:
20 10 = 200 ft
2
new garden
5 ft
30 ft
Area:
30 5 = 150 ft
2
How do the perimeters of the above two figures compare?
What would happen if you decreased the length by 50% and
increased the width by 50%
Most Missed Questions: Geometry and
Measurement
Assess what would occur if the length of the
figure was decreased by 50% and the width
increased by 50%. Compare this answer to the
original.
Have instructors brainstorm how they could
use this activity in class to help students
develop a deeper understanding of this
concept.
Geometry and Measurement
31
Slide 31 31
Tips from GEDTS: Geometry and
Measurement
Any side of a triangle CANNOT be the sum or difference of
the other two sides (Pythagorean Theorem).
If a geometric figure is shaded, the question will ask for
area; if only the outline is shown, the question will ask for
perimeter (circumference).
To find the area of a shape that is not a common
geometric figure, partition the area into nonoverlapping
areas that are common geometric figures.
If lines are parallel, any pair of angles will either be equal
or have a sum of 180.
The interior angles within all triangles have a sum of 180.
The interior angles within a square or rectangle have a sum
of 360.
Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Math Specialist
Geometry is the development of spatial sense
and the actual measuring and the concepts
related to units of measure. As with all areas
of mathematics, instructors should actively
involve students in activities in order to build
their understanding of geometric ideas, to
see the power and usefulness of geometry in
their lives, and to feel confident in their own
capabilities as problem solvers. When
students can be engaged in using and
applying geometric knowledge to investigate
and/or think about situations that relate to
geometry, true problem solving occurs.
Geometry and Measurement
32
Slide 32 32
Final Tips
Candidates do not all learn in the same manner.
Presenting alternate ways of approaching the
solution to questions during instruction will tap
more of the abilities that the candidates possess
and provide increased opportunities for the
candidates to be successful.
After the full range of instruction has been
covered, consider revisiting the area of geometry
once again before the candidates take the test.
Review the ideas on the slide.
[Note: GEDTS recommends that after the full
range of instruction has been covered, that
these specific areas of learning be reviewed
prior to the test.]
Geometry and Measurement
33
Slide 33 33
Reflections
What are the geometric concepts that you feel
are necessary in order to provide a full range of
math instruction in the GED classroom?
How will you incorporate the areas of geometry
identified by GEDTS as most problematic into the
math curriculum?
If your students have little background
knowledge in geometry, how could you help
them develop and use such skills in your
classroom?
So, how can you help students better
understand geometric concepts? become
better problem solvers?
Take a few minutes to reflect on the
following questions. Share your ideas with
your group.
What are the geometric concepts that you
feel are necessary in order to provide a full
range of math instruction in the GED
classroom?
How will you incorporate the areas of
geometry identified by GEDTS as most
problematic into the math curriculum?
If your students have little background
knowledge in geometry, how could you help
them develop and use such skills in your
classroom?
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 51
C H A P T E R 5
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Graphics are an integral part of both the workplace and daily life. Charts, tables,
graphs, and diagrams provide necessary information for the completion of jobrelated
and academic tasks. Competent interpretation of graphs requires that students
develop skills both in decoding graphs and in applying that information to a specific
task.
Numerical information is often embedded in graphic contexts important in adults
lives. Think for a moment about the various graphics used in daily life. People read
newspapers and magazines and interpret information presented in graphs, tables,
and charts. Statements of employee benefits, payment schedules, tax tables, mileage
charts, and even sports league standings are depicted in graphics.
Often very little computation is needed when reading graphics, but one still needs an
understanding of diverse mathematical concepts and the ability to apply this under
standing along with reading comprehension skills. If either text or numerical informa
tion is skipped, the graphic loses meaning and critical information can be lost.
Approximately 50 percent of the questions on the GED Mathematics Test use some
type of graphic. Students answer questions based on text, graphics, or a combination
of text and graphics. The analysis of the GED Mathematics Test data shows that the
interpretation of graphics was more problematic for students in the Below group than
for those in the Near group.
1
The Below group missed three additional questions re
lated to graphs and tables. It is also important to note that graphic literacy is an inte
gral part of other GED Tests, occurring in 50 to 60 percent of the GED Science and
Social Studies Tests. Ensuring that students have an understanding of graphics is an
important component of the GED curriculum.
According to the analysis of GEDTS data, each of the mathematical content areas
asks candidates to construct, read, interpret, or draw inferences from graphs, tables,
or charts to model or solve a problem. The data indicate that GED candidates often
lack the procedural abilities needed to read and extract information in graphic or tabu
lar form. The data also show that students lack the conceptual abilities required to
compare graphical figures representing different conditions. An example is when stu
dents are given a line graph and must predict a trend between two or more indicators.
Even though the GED Test provides graphics with different colors for each item, stu
dents have difficulty comparing and contrasting the data.
Because of the difficulty that GED candidates have in interpreting graphical and tabu
lar data, it is important that students be familiar with the various types of diagrams
they may encounter on the GED Tests and learn strategies for working with the dif
ferent types of data contained within the graphics.
Graphics in
Daily Life
Graphs, Tables,
and ChartsMost
Missed Questions
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 52
Skill gaps identified among GED candidates include:
yTransitioning between text and graphics where candidates need to have the skills
to read text descriptions of events or problems and translate this information into
graphical formats, or where candidates need to read text descriptions of events or
problems and add this information to the data already displayed in a graphic.
yInterpreting and comparing graphical data where candidates interpret and com
pare more than one data set appearing within a graphical illustration, or compare
information contained in two or more graphics.
yInterpreting and selecting tabular data for computation where graphs or tables de
pict more information than required to answer the question. Candidates must criti
cally read the problem and first identify pertinent versus nonpertinent data. Then
the candidate must interpret the pertinent data to solve the problem.
yIdentifying how graphs can show different types of information.
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 53
The following are examples of GEDtype questions for each area that simulate the
types of questions most often missed by GED candidates. The following questions
were developed by Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Mathematics Specialist. They address
each of the areas in graphic literacy identified by the analysis of the GED Mathemat
ics Test.
Sample Questions: Selecting the Correct Graph
The following two questions require that a graph be selected to accurately depict the
information described in the text.
The temperature at 6:00 a.m. on Monday was 60 F. The temperature rose steadily
until it reached a maximum of 85 F at 3:00 p.m. The temperature then dropped
steadily and again was 60 F at 6:00 p.m. Which graph represents this time
temperature relationship?
GEDType
Question Samples
100
0
6 a.m. 6 p.m.
F
Time of day
(4)
100
0
6 a.m. 6 p.m.
F
Time of day
(5)
100
0
6 a.m. 6 p.m.
F
Time of day
(1)
100
0
6 a.m. 6 p.m.
F
Time of day
(2)
100
0
6 a.m. 6 p.m.
F
Time of day
(3)
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 54
House A cost $100,000 and increased in value as shown in the graph below.
House B cost less than house A and increased in value at a greater rate. Sketch a
graph that might show the changing value of house B.
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
(1)
$100,000
4
A
B
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
(2)
$100,000
4
A
B
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
(3)
$100,000
4
A
B
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
(4)
$100,000
4
A
B
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
(5)
$100,000
4
A
B
$200,000
$0
0 8
Time (years)
$100,000
4
House A
Initial
Cost
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 55
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
Interpreting text and transferring that information to a graphic requires practice. The
above two questions require that students read text and select the graph that best
displays the information. The questions also require students to depict relationships.
To assist students with this type of question, they should first visualize what the text is
describing and then draw a graph depicting the information. By first depicting the in
formation visually or through the drawing of a sample graphic, they can better view
the correct graphic and select the correct answer. The correct answer for the first
sample question is: (4). The correct answer for the second sample question is: (2).
Sample Question: Transitioning Between Text and Graphics
The profit, in thousands of dollars, that a company expects to make from the sale of a
new video game is shown in the graph.
What is the expected profit before any video games are sold?
(1) $0
(2)  $150
(3)  $250
(4)  $150,000
(5)  $250,000
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
When interpreting graphs, students do not always read the legends that accompany
the different numerical values. In this type of question, students selected (2) $150
because they did not critically read the text that identified the information on the axis.
Profit in
Thousands
of Dollars
0 4,000 8,000 12,000
$0
$200
$400
Video Games Sold
$200
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 56
In this case, the distracter $150 was selected, rather than the correct answer of
$150,000. Also, the graph starts with negative numbers on the vertical axis. Students
are often used to seeing graphs that begin at 0, rather than a negative number.
Sample Question: Interpreting and Comparing Graphical Data
The changing values of two investments are shown in the graph below.
How do the amount initially invested and the rate of increase for investment A com
pare with those of investment B?
Compared to investment B, investment A had a
(1) lesser initial investment and a lesser rate of increase.
(2) lesser initial investment and the same rate of increase.
(3) lesser initial investment and a greater rate of increase.
(4) greater initial investment and a lesser rate of increase.
(5) greater initial investment and a greater rate of increase.
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
For students to interpret the correct answer, they need to visualize what type of trend
would be depicted by each of the answers. Although investment A and investment B
are depicted by different colors, students must identify a trend through the compari
son of the two investments. Many students inverted the trend because they did not
read critically. The question asks what was occurring with investment A, not B.
0 4 8 12
$0
$100
$200
Amount of
Investment
Investment A
Investment B
Time (years)
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 57
Sample Questions: Interpreting and Selecting Tabular Data for Computation
Results of Internet Purchase Survey
Number of
purchases
Number of
respondents
0 14
1 22
2 39
3 25
What was the total number of internet
purchases made by the survey respon
dents?
(1) 86
(2) 100
(3) 106
(4) 175
(5) 189
Claude is sewing 3 dresses in style B using fabric that is 54 inches wide. The table
below contains information for determining the yards of fabric needed.
What is the minimum number of yards of fabric recommended for one dress each of
size 10, 12, and 14?
Dress Size 10 12 14 16
Style A Yards of Fabric Needed
35 in. 3.25 3.875 3.875 3.875
45 in. 3 3 3.25 3.25
54 in. 2.375 2.5 2.75 2.75
Fabric
Width
60 in. 2.25 2.25 2.25 2.5
Style B Yards of Fabric Needed
35 in. 3.875 4 4.125 4.625
45 in. 3.125 3.25 3.25 3.625
54 in. 2.5 2.875 3 3
Fabric
Width
60 in. 2.25 2.375 2.5 2.75
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
In both questions, students had to identify the information needed and calculate the
correct answer. Not identifying pertinent information is a common error pattern. Stu
dents need to outline the information necessary and then decide what calculation
needs to be completed. With both questions, students did not complete a multistep
process based on pertinent information to achieve the correct answer.
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 58
There are many diverse ways to incorporate graphic literacy into the classroom.
yHave students graph information from their daily lives. For example, they could
develop a circle graph showing how they spent the last 24 hours or a bar graph
showing how many miles they drove each day for a week. The data from daily life
that could be displayed graphically is endless. The important thing is to assist stu
dents in understanding how graphs are constructed and the information that can
be obtained from using graphs. Examples are such things as taxes, calories in
products, profit and loss measures, or population gains and decreases. Students
should list how they personally use graphs.
yHave students bring newspaper or magazine articles or other textrich materials to
class that contain numerical information. Have all students read the same article
and identify the numerical information that needs interpretation. Students should
discuss the implications of these data. Have students brainstorm how to graph the
data and share their findings with others.
yAdvertisements are a great source of data. Students need experience in reading
critically. Do the data really support that 9 out of 10 people? Create a file of ad
vertisements to use for analyzing graphics. Have students challenge the data and
its implications. Questions to begin their probing could include:
1. Where did the data come from on which the statement is based?
2. How reliable or accurate are the data?
3. According to the data, are the claims made sensible and justified?
4. Is there any missing information?
yProvide students with classroom activities that require collecting, organizing,
graphing, analyzing, and researching data. Topics can be as simple as What per
centage of this class is right or lefthanded? From this type of topic, students will
have numerous opportunities to use their problemsolving skills to create a well
developed graphic that accurately displays the information.
yHave students create their own GEDtype questions based on graphs and charts
that they develop or use in reallife situations. This type of activity assists in creat
ing a GED classroom atmosphere where learning is viewed as applicable to real
life.
yRate of change can be a difficult concept to teach. Have students select a topic of
interest to them, such as the housing market, and keep track of data related to
their topic for a specified length of time. Students may even wish to obtain data
from two different sources, such as the housing market in two different areas, data
from the area in which they currently live, and perhaps data from a neighboring
area or an area in which they grew up. This provides students with information by
which they can create a graph to show trends, as well as the comparison between
trends in two different situations.
Incorporating
Graphic Literacy
into the Classroom
Chapter 5Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables 59
1
The GEDTS Statistical Study for Mathematics used information from the three operation test
forms, using the top 40 percent of the most frequently missed items. Those items represented
40 percent of the total test items on the test forms. The study focused on candidates whose
standard scores were 1 SEM (Standard Error of Measure) below the passing score of a 410,
called the NEAR group (N=107,163), and those candidates whose standard scores were 2
SEMs below passing, called the BELOW group (N=10,003) (GEDTS Conference, July 2005).
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
1
Connecting the Data: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Bonnie Vondracek Susan Pittman
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
2
Slide 22
GED 2002 Series Tests
Math = Experiences
One picture tells a
thousand words;
one experience tells a
thousand pictures.
Weve all heard such phrases as the face
that launched a thousand ships or picture is
worth a thousand words. However, we
should not forget that math is also a very
experiential subject. We do not learn
mathematical concepts merely through rote
memorization or reading a textbook. We need
to help our students to access real life
experiences or provide those experiences if
we want them to be true problem solvers
rather than having them capable of merely
parroting facts that we have provided.
Throughout this workshop, you will
experience and discover connections within
those areas that GED candidates exhibit the
most difficulty and will hopefully share your
own personal experiences and expertise with
others.
But before we begin our exploration of those
specific areas that provide students with the
most difficulty, lets take a few minutes to
look at who our GED students are.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
3
Slide 33
Who are GED Candidates?
Average Age 24.7 years
Gender 55.1% male; 44.9% female
Ethnicity
52.3% White
18.1% Hispanic Origin
21.5% African American
2.7% American Indian or Alaska Native
1.7% Asian
0.6% Pacific Islander/Hawaiian
Average Grade Completed 10.0
Who are our GED students? Have they
changed over the years? According to the
annual statistical report, there have been
some changes. It is important in the teaching
of mathematics to know who our students
are.
[Note: Information is obtained from Who
Passed the GED Tests? an annual statistical
report produced by the General Educational
Development Testing Service (GEDTS) of the
American Council on Education.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
4
Slide 44
Statistics from GEDTS
Standard Score Statistics for Mathematics
501 490 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Passers
469 460 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Completers
Mean Median
Mathematics continues to be the most
difficult content area for GED candidates.
Each year, GEDTS analyzes the statistical
data for the three operational versions of the
GED Test. In 2004, the most recent year for
statistics, the average score in mathematics
for all GED completers in the United States
was a 469. The score for those GED
candidates who passed the GED was a 501.
The minimal score for passing each GED
subtest is a 410 with an overall average
requirement for all five subtests at a 450.
Although the 469 and 501 appear to be
adequate scores, mathematics continues to
be the lowest average score among the five
subtests. As in the past, mathematics
continues to be the most difficult content
area for GED candidates.
[Note: The first set of mathematics scores are
based on each candidates best score earned
in 2004 and is based on all U.S. completers.
The GED standard score for all GED passers in
2004 in the area of mathematics was an
average of 501.]
However, a mean or median score does not
provide the type of information that is most
helpful to an instructor who wishes to assist
students in attaining better math skills and
ultimately a passing score on the GED
Mathematics Test. This requires a more
intensive study of question types and those
which are missed most often by students who
do not pass the test.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
5
Slide 55
Statistics from GEDTS
Source: 2001 GED Testing Service Data
Top 60% 450
Top 55% 460
Top 50% 500
Top 40% 520
Top 33% 530
Top 25% 550
Top 20% 570
Top 15% 580
Top 10% 610
Top 5% 640
Top 3% 660
Top 2% 670
Top 1% 700
Estimated National Class Rank GED Standard Score
Source: 2001 GED Testing Service Data
GED Standard Score and Estimated National Class Rank
of Graduating U.S. High School Seniors, 2001
Remember the 469. Take a look at the chart
that correlates a GED Standard Score to an
Estimated National Class Ranking. Would you
feel comfortable that student who graduated
in the bottom half of the class would possess
higher order mathematics skills? Probably
not. Students who function in the range of
one or two SEMs below the passing score or
who pass with a minimal score need to
develop improved mathematical thinking
skills in order to be successful in both
postsecondary education and in the
workforce.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
6
Slide 66
Statistical Study
There is a story often told about the
writer Gertrude Stein. As she lay on her
deathbed, a brave friend leaned over and
whispered to her, Gertrude, what is the
answer? With all her strength, Stein
lifted her head from the pillow and
replied, What is the question?
Then she died.
[Note: You may wish to use this short story as
a lead into an overview on the statistical
study.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
7
Slide 77
The Question Is . . .
GEDTS Statistical Study for Mathematics
Results were obtained from three operational test
forms.
Used the top 40% of the most frequently missed test
items.
These items represented 40% of the total items on
the test forms.
Study focused on those candidates who passed (410
standard score) +/ 1 SEM called the NEAR group
(N=107,163), and those candidates whose standard
scores were +/ 2 SEMs below passing called the
BELOW group (N=10,003).
GEDTS Conference, July 2005
Review with the participants how the
information for the statistical study was
obtained. GED candidates who were NEAR
passing and those with scores BELOW passing
became the target groups for the study. By
focusing on these groups, the most
troubling/difficult items in the area of the
GED Mathematics Test were identified.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
8
Slide 88
Math Themes Most Missed
Questions
How are the questions distributed
between the two halves of the test?
Total number of questions examined: 48
Total from Part I (calculator): 24
Total from Part II (no calculator): 24
[Note: If this PowerPoint is used in
conjunction with other parts of this training,
you may wish to delete this slide so it is not
duplicated within the training.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
9
Slide 99
Math Themes Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
I hear and I forget. I see and I
remember. I do and I understand.
Chinese proverb
One of the key components of learning is to
be able to apply what you have seen and
heard. This is particularly true in the area of
reading and interpreting graphs and tables.
Students must not only be able to see what is
meant, but also to translate that information
themselves into the creation of a graphic that
makes sense.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
10
Slide 10 10
Math Themes Most Missed
Questions
Theme 1: Geometry and
Measurement
Theme 2: Applying Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Theme 3: Reading and Interpreting
Graphs and Tables
Graphics are an integral part of both the
workplace and daily life. Charts, tables, and
diagrams provide necessary information for
the completion of jobrelated and academic
tasks. Competent interpretation of graphs
requires that students develop skills in both
decoding graphs and then applying the
information to a specific task.
Discuss that three primary themes were
identified by the study as being the areas in
which the GED candidates had the most
difficulty. This section of the workshop will
deal specifically with the area of graphs,
tables, and charts.
[Note: For each section of the workshop, you
may wish to begin with a math starter/math
bender. If a workshop is being conducted only
in the area of Graphs, Tables, & Charts, you
will also want to include a basic icebreaker in
order to allow instructors time to introduce
themselves, as well as setting the stage for
the workshop. Remember that the four
questions for candidates within 12 SEMs
(Standard Error of Measure) below the cut
score that did not match questions for
candidates near the cut score were as
follows: three were related to graphs/tables
and one was related to calculation.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
11
Slide 11 11
Time Out for a Math Starter!
Lets get started problem solving with
graphics by looking at the following graph.
Who is represented by each point?
Time out for a Math Starter! Lets get started
problem solving with graphics by looking at
graph and the legend. In your groups
determine who is represented by each point.
Once you have located each of the three
individuals on the graph, discuss whether or
not you think the graph is well constructed.
Why or why not? What do you look for in a
wellconstructed graphic?
[Note: Debrief the activity by having
instructors report their findings, as well as
their evaluation of a wellconstructed graph.
Discuss how one of the common errors that
students make when interpreting graphs is
not reading the text that accompanies the
pictorial display. You may wish to have
instructors develop a graph that would be
more effective in charting the provided
information. This is a sample activity. You
may wish to include a different graphic
literacy activity to open the workshop.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
12
Slide 12 12
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Summarizing Comparison of Most Commonly
Selected Incorrect Responses
0 Different
5 Same
Graphs and Tables
Review the data with the instructors. Its
clear that both groups in the study found the
same questions to be most difficult. The
students in the study also made the same
primary errors when selecting their answers.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
13
Slide 13 13
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Comparing graphs
Transitioning between text and graphics
Interpreting values on a graph
Interpreting table data for computation
Selecting table data for computation
Approximately 50% of the questions on the
GED Mathematics Test use some type of
graphic. GED candidates must answer
questions based on text, graphics, or a
combination of text and graphics. Each of the
mathematical content areas includes
questions where students must visually
construct, read, interpret, or draw inferences
from graphs, tables, or charts in order to
model or solve a problem.
From the analysis, it was noted that the
interpretation of graphics was more
problematic for those students in the Below
group than in the Near group.
Review the different types of questions that
were most missed by students.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
14
Slide 14 14
House A cost $100,000 and increased in value as shown in
the graph.
House B cost less than house A and increased in value at a
greater rate. Sketch a graph that might show the changing
value of house B.
Initial
Cost
Increasing House Value
0
4 8
$0
$100,000
$200,000 House A
Time (years)
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Before answering a question, students need
to be able to visualize what type of graphic
display is being described. One strategy is to
have students insert what they comprehend
the question is asking. What would the
changing value of house B look like
graphically?
[Note: Due to the size of the graphics and the
amount of text, many of the questions are
developed over several slides. If instructors
have difficulty in visualizing an entire
question, you may wish to provide them with
copies of the questions which are located in
Chapter 5: Reading and Interpreting Graphs
and Tables.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
15
Slide 15 15
Which
One?
(3)
B
A
(2)
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
(1)
0
4 8
Time (years)
0
4 8
$0
$100,000
$200,000
(4)
(5)
B
A
Time (years)
$0
$100,000
$200,000
A
B
0
4 8
$0
$100,000
$200,000
Time (years)
$100,000
8
0
4
$0
$200,000
B
A
Time (years)
Time (years)
0
4 8
$0
$100,000
$200,000
B
A
Seldom do texts have examples where
students have to select the type of graph that
depicts the scenario described. Have
instructors brainstorm some ways they can
better assist students in obtaining this type of
skill. Why is this important? Take a look at
the next question that asks students to
compare data.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
16
Slide 16 16
The changing values of two investments are shown in
the graph below.
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Amount of
Investment
0
4 8 12
$0
$1000
$2000
Investment A
Investment B
Time (years)
Review what the graph displays.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
17
Slide 17 17
How does the amount initially invested and the rate
of increase for investment A compare with those of
investment B?
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Amount of
Investment
0
4 8 12
$0
$1000
$2000
Investment A
Investment B
Time (years)
What does the question ask?
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
18
Slide 18 18
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Compared to investment B, investment A had a
(1) lesser initial investment and a lesser rate of increase.
(2) lesser initial investment and the same rate of increase.
(3) lesser initial investment and a greater rate of increase.
(4) greater initial investment and a lesser rate of increase.
(5) greater initial investment and a greater rate of increase.
0
4 8 12
$0
$1000
$2000
Amount of
Investment
Investment A
Investment B
Time (years)
What problems would students exhibit when
answering this type of question?
[Note: Instructors may respond that this looks
like an organization question from the
Language Arts, Writing Test Part 1 or that the
verbiage is too confusing. Remember that all
test items on the GED Test were normed
using a norming population of high school
graduating seniors. Thus, the questions are
determined to be valid and reliable. Also
note that the colors used within the
PowerPoint are not necessarily the colors
used for graphs on the GED Mathematics Test.
The colors used on the test were identified to
be easily viewed in print by all students. The
colors used in the PowerPoint are more easily
viewed from a distance.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
19
Slide 19 19
The profit, in thousands of dollars, that a company expects to
make from the sale of a new video game is shown in the graph.
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
0
4,000 8,000 12,000
$0
$200
$400
Profit/Loss in
Thousands of
Dollars
Video Games Sold
$200
Interpreting values on a graph is another area
that causes GED candidates difficulty. What
would be the problem that students would
display when interpreting this graph?
What reallife scenarios may use this type of
display? [Example: Graphs that show trends in
earnings where companies may show a profit
or loss for the quarter or year.]
[Note: Have instructors identify different
types of errors that students may make when
interpreting this type of graph.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
20
Slide 20 20
What is the expected profit/loss before any video games are sold?
(1) $0 (2) $150 (3) $250 (4) $150,000 (5) $250,000
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
0
4,000 8,000 12,000
$0
$200
$400
Profit/Loss in
Thousands of
Dollars
Video Games Sold
$200
Now that instructors can view the answers,
what additional problem or problems would
students have when interpreting this graph?
[Note: Most students selected the answer 
$150. They were able to read the graph, but
did not interpret the value correctly. This is
an example of a graph where students must
read all of the text that describes the graph,
including the headings for each of the axis.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
21
Slide 21 21
Results of Internet Purchase Survey
25 3
39 2
22 1
14 0
Number of Respondents Number of Purchases
What was the total number of internet purchases made by
the survey respondents?
(1) 86 (2) 100 (3) 106 (4) 175 (5) 189
(0 14) + 1 22 + 2 39 + 3 25 = 22 + 78 + 75 = 175
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
Selecting the correct data to use when
completing a calculation is another problem
for students.
Have instructors look at the chart and
identify problems that they think students
would encounter with this type of question.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
22
Slide 22 22
Claude is sewing 3 dresses in style B using fabric that is 54
inches wide. The table below contains information for
determining the yards of fabric needed.
Yardage
Information
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
2.75 2.5 2.375 2.25
3 3 2.875 2.5
3.625 3.25 3.25 3.125
4.625 4.125 4 3.875 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style B Yards of Fabric Needed
2.5 2.25 2.25 2.25
2.75 2.75 2.5 2.375
3.25 3.25 3 3
3.875 3.875 3.875 3.25 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style A Yards of Fabric Needed
16 14 12 10 Dress Size
Some charts provide more information than is
required. This is an example of a type of
chart used on the GED Mathematics Test.
[Note: Due to the size of the graphics and the
amount of text, this question is developed
over several slides. If instructors have
difficulty in visualizing the entire question,
you may wish to provide them with copies of
the questions which are located in Chapter 5:
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
23
Slide 23 23
What is the minimum number of yards of fabric
recommended for one dress each of size 10, 12, and 14?
Yardage
Information
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
2.75 2.5 2.375 2.25
3 3 2.875 2.5
3.625 3.25 3.25 3.125
4.625 4.125 4 3.875 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style B Yards of Fabric Needed
2.5 2.25 2.25 2.25
2.75 2.75 2.5 2.375
3.25 3.25 3 3
3.875 3.875 3.875 3.25 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style A Yards of Fabric Needed
16 14 12 10 Dress Size+
Selecting pertinent data and following the
vertical and horizontal lines of a chart to find
specific data are both areas with which
students have difficulty.
In this type of question, GED candidates were
asked to use the chart in order to determine
how much fabric was needed by Claude.
What types of problems do you think students
encountered with this type of question?
[Note: This question required that GED
candidates grid their answers. Although the
calculation for the problem is basic addition,
they did not have numeric answers from
which to choose.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
24
Slide 24 24
What is the minimum number of yards of fabric
recommended for one dress each of size 10, 12, and 14?
Yardage
Information
Most Missed Questions: Reading and
Interpreting Graphs and Tables
2.75 2.5 2.375 2.25
3 3 2.875 2.5
3.625 3.25 3.25 3.125
4.625 4.125 4 3.875 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style B Yards of Fabric Needed
2.5 2.25 2.25 2.25
2.75 2.75 2.5 2.375
3.25 3.25 3 3
3.875 3.875 3.875 3.25 35 in
Fabric 45 in
Width 54 in
60 in
Style A Yards of Fabric Needed
16 14 12 10 Dress Size
Have instructors share different techniques
that they use in the classroom to assist
students in selecting the correct data with
which to complete a calculation.
What types of reallife charts could be used
in the classroom to simulate this type of
question? [Example: Income tax charts]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
25
Slide 25 25
Tips from GEDTS: Reading and Interpreting
Graphs and Tables
Have candidates find examples of different types
of graphs.
Have candidates create questions for their
graphics and/or those of others.
Develop the capacity to translate from graphics
to text as well as text to graphics.
Develop the capacity to select pertinent
information from the information presented.
Reinforce the need to read and interpret scales,
present graphs without scales or without units.
Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Math Specialist
Graph sense or graph comprehension involves
reading and making sense of graphs seen in
reallife situations, such as newspapers and
the media, as well as constructing graphs
that best convey data.
Review the ideas on the slide from the GED
Testing Service.
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
26
Slide 26 26
Final Tips
Candidates do not all learn in the same manner.
Presenting alternate ways of approaching the
solution to questions during instruction will tap
more of the abilities that the candidates possess
and provide increased opportunities for the
candidates to be successful.
After the full range of instruction has been
covered, consider revisiting the area of graphics
once again before the candidates take the test.
Review the ideas on the slide.
[Note: GEDTS recommends that after the full
range of instruction has been covered, that
these specific areas of learning be reviewed
prior to the test.]
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and
Tables
27
Slide 27 27
Reflections
What are the major concepts that you feel are
necessary in order to provide a full range of
graphic literacy instruction in the GED
classroom?
How will you incorporate the areas of graphic
literacy identified by GEDTS as most problematic
into the math curriculum?
If your students have difficulty in interpreting
graphics, how could you help them develop and
use such skills in your classroom?
So, how can you help students better
interpret graphs? become better problem
solvers?
Take a few minutes to reflect on the
following questions. Share your ideas with
your group.
What are the major concepts that you feel
are necessary in order to provide a full range
of graphic literacy instruction in the GED
classroom?
How will you incorporate the areas of graphic
literacy identified by GEDTS as most
problematic into the math curriculum?
If your students have difficulty in interpreting
graphics, how could you help them develop
and use such skills in your classroom?
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 61
C H A P T E R 6
Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation
According to the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), number sense refers to a
natural feeling for numbers and their different uses and interpretations, an apprecia
tion for various levels of accuracy when calculating, the ability to detect errors quickly,
and a commonsense approach to using numbers. When students have a strong
number sense, they focus on what strategies to use to solve a problem rather than
the answer itself. To develop a strong number sense, learners must engage in activi
ties that allow them to see the connections between math and everyday life.
Being able to calculate numbers comfortably and competently is important to stu
dents. Their competence and confidence relies upon having developed a number
sense about whole numbers, money, fractions, decimals, and percentages. However,
basic computation skills are not enough. Students must also be able to make deci
sions regarding the best method to use for a particular situation and transfer those
skills to other types of situations.
The SCANS Report states that work competencies and skills require estimation, and
this is also true of the GED Mathematics Test. Estimation is probably one of the most
useful skills for adults. It plays an important role in the home, in the workplace, in the
community, and in the educational setting. Students must master estimation skills if
they wish to succeed in math and be comfortable in everyday situations that require
its use.
Understanding and working with fractions, decimals, percentages, and ratios are also
necessary skills for adults. These are some of the most challenging of the basic math
skills. Everyday life rarely calls for just whole numbers; instead, adults must work with
fractional amounts and decimals.
According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, algebra is also an es
sential skill for all students. However, most students will say that they see no use for
algebra in real life, unless one is an electrician or carpenter. The problem that most
students have is that they see algebra as something containing x and y that has no
real use in everyday life. Instead, algebra should be used as a valuable tool for prob
lem solving through recognizing and analyzing patterns and number relationships that
then connect math to the real world.
Algebra is about working with formulas where certain information is unknown. Many
adults come in contact with algebra everyday, but just dont recognize it. For example,
many times companies will calculate increases in wages by using a formula. That
formula may include factors related to how long the person has been on the job, the
evaluation the person received, and the current salary scale for the position.
Its More Than
Computation
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 62
Each of these areas includes essential skills for the student who wishes to earn a
high school diploma through the GED Tests. These are the types of skills that often
students do not demonstrate and thus are areas of weakness on the GED Mathemat
ics Test.
GED candidates should be able to perform mathematical computations quickly and
accurately in each of the content areas. Some of the questions missed were the result
of candidates making careless procedural errors. However, other errors were made
because candidates lacked knowledge of why or when certain types of calculations
should be used.
Skill gaps identified among GED candidates include an inability to:
yCalculate percentages and visualize whether or not their answers are reasonable
when they are uncertain of the correct procedure to use.
yVisualize reasonable answers to questions, such as whether an original number
should be smaller or larger than a percentage or fraction of that same number.
yCalculate squares and square roots of numbers, both with and without a calcula
tor, and being able to estimate an approximation of a square root if it results in a
nonperfect square. When faced with questions that did not provide candidates
with a perfect square, they were unable to think through the problem and estimate
an answer.
yRecognize and calculate exponents, both positive and negative. Candidates con
fused exponents and multipliers. When dealing with negative exponents, they did
not view the negative exponent as representing a small decimal number, but
rather viewed the exponent as a negative number to be multiplied.
ySelect a correct equation in a conceptual problem. Candidates had difficulty in
setting up an equation to solve the problem.
The following are examples of GEDtype questions for each area that simulate the
types of questions most often missed by GED candidates. The following questions
were developed by Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Mathematics Specialist. They address
each of the areas in calculation identified by the analysis of the GED Mathematics
Test.
CalculationMost
Missed Questions
GEDType Question
Samples
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 63
Sample Question: Percentages
A rectangular garden had a length of 20 feet and a width of 10 feet. The length was
increased by 50%, and the width was decreased by 50% to form a new garden. How
does the area of the new garden compare to the area of the original garden?
The area of the new garden is
(1) 50% less
(2) 25% less
(3) the same
(4) 25% greater
(5) 50% greater
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
When students see that one side of a rectangular figure is increased by 50% and an
other side decreased by 50%, they assume that the areas continue to be the same.
This was a common error made by GED candidates. Teaching students to draw a pic
ture of the problem is a great strategy when comparing two figures. Have students
look at the two figures that they have drawn to try and figure out a pattern. Also have
students figure out what would occur to the area if the width was increased by 60%
and the length decreased by 50%. Have students predict if it would it be the same or
different, and why.
Sample Question: Percentages
When Harold began his wordprocessing job, he could type only 40 words per minute.
After he had been on the job for one month, his typing speed had increased to 50
words per minute.
By what percent did Harolds typing speed increase?
(1) 10%
(2) 15%
(3) 20%
(4) 25%
(5) 50%
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
When taking the GED Test, candidates are often nervous and forget the process to
follow when figuring percentages. They forget whether to divide 40 by 50 or subtract
40 from 50 and then divide or use any process they can remember. It is this type of
question where the ability to multiply any number by 10% can provide a GED candi
date with a technique that can assist him/her in selecting the correct answer.
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 64
Sample Question: Conceptual Question Type
A positive number less than or equal to is represented by x. Three expressions in
volving x are given:
(A) x + 1 (B) 1/x (C) 1 + x
2
Which of the following series lists the expressions from least to greatest?
(1) A, B, C
(2) B, A, C
(3) B, C, A
(4) C, A, B
(5) C, B, A
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This is the type of question that GED candidates may skip or just answer randomly.
Students must first solve for each of the expressions and then place them in order.
Because the question uses letters, rather than numbers, candidates did not take the
time or have the strategy to substitute numbers for the letters and then solve each of
the expressions. It is important to note that a student doesnt need to calculate this
problem, but rather to understand the concepts that multiplying any number by a frac
tion results in a smaller number and dividing a number by a fraction results in a larger
number. It is important that students understand concepts to better estimate an an
swer prior to calculation.
Sample Question: Visualizing Fractions
A survey asked 300 people which of the three primary colors, red, yellow, or blue was
their favorite. Blue was selected by of the people, red by of the people, and the
remainder selected yellow.
How many of the 300 people selected YELLOW?
(1) 50
(2) 100
(3) 150
(4) 200
(5) 250
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
Visualizing fraction parts appears to be a common error pattern for GED candidates.
Candidates added and to get
5
6 and then multiplied. The answer selected was
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 65
for those people who selected blue or red. Another step was required to get the cor
rect answer for the number of people who selected yellow.
Sample Question: Visualizing Fractions
Of all the items produced at a manufacturing plant on Tuesday,
5
6 passed inspection.
If 360 items passed inspection on Tuesday, how many were PRODUCED that day?
(1) 300
(2) 432
(3) 492
(4) 504
(5) 3000
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This question is an excellent example of how students fail to visualize a reasonable
answer. To solve the problem, they multiplied 360 by
5
6 and obtained 300. If candi
dates had drawn a picture of what they had calculated, they would have noticed that
the number of items that passed inspection was greater than the number that had
been produced that day.
EXAMPLE
The following is an example of two depictions of the problem that clearly show that if
300 is selected as an answer, the number of items that pass inspection was greater
than the number that had been produced that day.
Which of the following diagrams correctly represents the relationship between items
produced and those that passed inspection?
produced passed produced passed
A
B
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 66
Sample Question: Visualize Reasonable Answer
A crosssection of a uniformly thick piece of tubing is shown below. The width of the
tubing is represented by x.
What is the measure, in inches, of x?
(1) 0.032
(2) 0.064
(3) 0.718
(4) 0.750
(5) 2.936
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
GED candidates made a simple calculation error on this problem by selecting 0.064.
Instead of visualizing that this answer was for both unknowns and dividing by two,
they selected the first calculation they completed. This problem can be solved through
subtraction and division or through addition. It is important that students understand
there may be more than one way to solve a problem. Create situations in which
learners can talk about what they see in problems like this. Helping learners describe
their visualizations is a good way for them to clarify whether their mental picture and
their description of it actually connect.
Sample Question: Negative Exponents
If a = 2 and b = 3, what is the value of 4
a
a
b
?
(1) 96
(2) 64
(3) 48
(4) 2
(5) 1
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
GED candidates viewed exponents as multipliers. Instead of finding the square of 4,
they multiplied 4 2. Also, instead of multiplying (the negative exponent),
they multiplied 2 2 2. Distinguishing between exponents and multipliers is an
important concept for GED candidates to comprehend. This question is from Part I of
the GED Mathematics Test, which allows students to use a calculator. The concepts
needed to solve this problem are: positive exponents create larger numbers and
negative exponents create smaller decimal numbers. If they understand this concept,
they can eliminate three of the five answers given.
inside
diameter
1.436 in
outside diameter
1.500 in
x x
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 67
Sample Question: Calculating Square Root
The golden rectangle discovered by the ancient Greeks is thought to have an espe
cially pleasing shape. The length (L) of this rectangle in terms of its width (W) is given
by the following formula.
If the width of a golden rectangle is 10 meters, what is its approximate length in me
ters?
(1) 6.1
(2) 6.6
(3) 11.2
(4) 12.2
(5) 16.2
COMMON STUDENT ERRORS
This question was intended for Part I of the GED Mathematics Test because it uses a
nonperfect square. Even using a calculator, this type of question may be difficult.
GED candidates did not answer the question correctly. Suppose a GED candidate is
reluctant to use/trust the calculator, but knows that 5 is slightly more than 4 , and
also knows that 4 is 2. Then the student can mentally calculate that the estimated
answer is 15, leaving only one possible correct answer16.2. Mental math and esti
mation skills can assist students in solving problems that they may otherwise just
skip.
To maximize longterm learning and understanding, it is important to support a dis
courserich classroom culture where students work towards mathematical under
standing by sharing ideas with each other and the instructor. Some ideas to facilitate
more effective learning and transference of calculation skills are the following:
yCreate learning situations in which students discuss the strategies theyve used to
solve problems. This makes strategy development and selection intentional and
increases student problemsolving skills.
yDevelop questioning and observation skills in students. Help them to develop effi
cient algorithms for computation through experiencing different types of problems
and experimenting with solutions, rather than having the instructor tell them what
to do. Students may need assistance in crafting the types of questions that they
need to explore.
yUse realworld numbers and situations when developing lessons. Students are
better able to apply mathematical skills when concepts are taught in the context of
reallife skills. Providing instruction in context is more complex than the more tradi
tional type of instruction that relies heavily on books and worksheets. To provide
Incorporating
Calculation Skills
into the Classroom
( )
2
5 1+
=
W
L
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 68
more contextbased instruction, encourage students to bring in their own authentic
materials. Suggestions of authentic materials include:
 Newspapers and magazines, including sales papers, promotional materi
als, and advertisements
 Copies of utility or phone bills
 Credit card statements
 Leases for automobiles or apartments
 Recipes, cookbooks
 Timesheets, pay stubs
 Tax forms
yTeach estimation and mental math skills. Many tasks do not require precise, com
puted answers, but rather estimates, such as the approximate distance to the
store or approximately how long something will take to complete. Have students
list reallife situations in which estimates may be used. Identify different estimation
techniques used by students, such as multiplying a restaurant bill by 10% and
then adding half more to create a 15% tip or adding prices at a grocery store by
using whole numbers, such as $1.00 for an item that is 97 cents.
yTeach students to multiply any number by 10% and how to find 25% of a number
by first halving it and then halving it again.
yProvide students with problems that require them to use different problemsolving
strategies so that they have numerous ways to solve any problem. After students
have solved a problem, ask them whether there are other ways to solve that prob
lem.
yAllow students to use the calculator to solve problems. Have students develop
games and activities that will help the class to discover different functions that they
can use to solve problems. Students should be able to use the calculator for the
basic skills, as well as for calculating square roots and exponents.
yShow students sample questions that incorporate the three different question
types. Have students explore why each question type is used and explain their
reasoning. Provide students with practice in generating their own questions.
These questions are often more meaningful to students as they express reallife
problems.
yProvide students with practice in substituting numbers for variables. In algebraic
equations, students can substitute a number for the unknown quantity, such as x.
Students can then use basic calculation to find the answer. Students may wish to
explore whether or not substitution works for all types of equations.
yUse manipulatives and realworld materials when developing lessons. Manipula
tives, such as fraction squares, pattern blocks, tangrams, geoboards, and algebra
tiles, provide students with the material they often need to express their mathe
matical thinking.
yProvide students with irregular shapes where they need to calculate area. Have
students brainstorm how to calculate area more easily by partitioning the figure.
Chapter 6Application of Basic Math Principles to Calculation 69
Example: Provide them with an outline map of the state in which they live and
have them calculate how many square miles comprise the state. You may wish to
provide students with graph paper and basic measuring tools.
yHave students explore possible versus impossible triangles and discover what
conditions are required to create the different types of triangles.
yEncourage students to keep a math journal to reflect on what they have learned or
to identify areas of concern or questions they wish to explore. A sample journal is
included in Appendix B7 of this manual.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
1
Connecting the Data: Application of
Basic Math Principles to Calculation
Bonnie Vondracek Susan Pittman
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
2
Slide 22
GED 2002 Series Tests
Math = Experiences
One picture tells a
thousand words;
one experience tells a
thousand pictures.
Weve all heard such phrases as the face
that launched a thousand ships or picture is
worth a thousand words. However, we
should not forget that math is also a very
experiential subject. We do not learn
mathematical concepts merely through rote
memorization or reading a textbook. We need
to help our students to access real life
experiences or provide those experiences if
we want them to be true problem solvers
rather than having them capable of merely
parroting facts that we have provided.
Throughout this workshop, you will
experience and discover connections within
those areas that GED candidates exhibit the
most difficulty and will hopefully share your
own personal experiences and expertise with
others.
But before we begin our exploration of those
specific areas that provide students with the
most difficulty, lets take a few minutes to
look at who our GED students are.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
3
Slide 33
Who are GED Candidates?
Average Age 24.7 years
Gender 55.1% male; 44.9% female
Ethnicity
52.3% White
18.1% Hispanic Origin
21.5% African American
2.7% American Indian or Alaska Native
1.7% Asian
0.6% Pacific Islander/Hawaiian
Average Grade Completed 10.0
Who are our GED students? Have they
changed over the years? According to the
annual statistical report, there have been
some changes. It is important in the teaching
of mathematics to know who our students
are.
[Note: Information is obtained from Who
Passed the GED Tests? 2004 an annual
statistical report produced by the General
Educational Development Testing Service of
the American Council on Education.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
4
Slide 44
Statistics from GEDTS
501 490 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Passers
469 460 Mathematics Score for All U.S.
GED Completers
Mean Median
Standard Score Statistics for Mathematics
Mathematics continues to be the most
difficult content area for GED candidates.
Each year, GEDTS analyzes the statistical
data for the three operational versions of the
GED Test. In 2004, the most recent year for
statistics, the average score in mathematics
for all GED completers in the United States
was a 469. The score for those GED
candidates who passed the GED was a 501.
The minimal score for passing each GED
subtest is a 410 with an overall average
requirement for all five subtests at a 450.
Although the 469 and 501 appear to be
adequate scores, mathematics continues to
be the lowest average score among the five
subtests. As in the past, mathematics
continues to be the most difficult content
area for GED candidates.
[Note: The first set of mathematics scores are
based on each candidates best score earned
in 2004 and is based on all U.S. completers.
The GED standard score for all GED passers in
2004 in the area of mathematics was an
average of 501.]
However, a mean or median score does not
provide the type of information that is most
helpful to an instructor who wishes to assist
students in attaining better math skills and
ultimately a passing score on the GED
Mathematics Test. This requires a more
intensive study of question types and those
which are missed most often by students who
do not pass the test.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
5
Slide 55
Statistics from GEDTS
Top 60% 450
Top 55% 460
Top 50% 500
Top 40% 520
Top 33% 530
Top 25% 550
Top 20% 570
Top 15% 580
Top 10% 610
Top 5% 640
Top 3% 660
Top 2% 670
Top 1% 700
Estimated National Class Rank GED Standard Score
Source: 2001 GED Testing Service Data
GED Standard Score and Estimated National Class Rank
of Graduating U.S. High School Seniors, 2001
Remember the score of 469? Take a look at
the chart that correlates a GED Standard
Score to an Estimated National Class Ranking.
Would you feel comfortable that students
who graduated in the bottom half of the class
would possess higherorder mathematics
skills? Probably not. Students who function in
the range of one or two SEMs below the
passing score or who pass with a minimal
score need to develop improved
mathematical thinking skills in order to be
successful in both postsecondary education
and in the workforce.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
6
Slide 66
Statistical Study
There is a story often told about the
writer Gertrude Stein. As she lay on her
deathbed, a brave friend leaned over and
whispered to her, Gertrude, what is the
answer? With all her strength, Stein
lifted her head from the pillow and
replied, What is the question?
Then she died.
[Note: You may wish to use this short story as
a lead into an overview on the statistical
study.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
7
Slide 77
The Question Is . . .
GEDTS Statistical Study for Mathematics
Results were obtained from three operational test
forms.
Used the top 40% of the most frequently missed test
items.
These items represented 40% of the total items on
the test forms.
Study focused on those candidates who passed (410
standard score) +/ 1 SEM called the NEAR group
(N=107,163), and those candidates whose standard
scores were +/ 2 SEMs below passing called the
BELOW group (N=10,003).
GEDTS Conference, July 2005
Review with the participants how the
information for the statistical study was
obtained. GED candidates who were NEAR
passing and those with scores BELOW passing
became the target groups for the study. By
focusing on these groups, the most
troubling/difficult items in the area of the
GED Mathematics Test were identified. One
SEM equates to approximately 50 points.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
8
Slide 88
Most Missed Questions
How are the questions distributed
between the two halves of the test?
Total number of questions examined: 48
Total from Part I (calculator): 24
Total from Part II (no calculator): 24
Discuss that when the GED 2002 series
Mathematics Test was first developed, many
people were concerned that the calculator
would create a less challenging test. The
analysis supports that this is an untrue
statement. Of the items most often missed,
an equal number were located on each part
of the test. The use of the calculator made
no difference in a student providing a correct
answer for the most frequently missed
questions.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
9
Slide 99
Math Themes: Applying Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Because mathematics is so often
conveyed in symbols, oral and written
communication about mathematical
ideas is not always recognized as an
important part of mathematics
education. Students do not necessarily
talk about mathematics naturally;
teachers need to help them to
do so.
(NCTM 1996)
Students know how to do the math; they just
dont understand what the question is asking.
Over the years, people have often referred to
mathematics as a language. In reading any
mathematical problem, one must decode and
comprehend the words, as well as all of the
different signs and symbols. Decoding words
requires connecting sounds to those symbols that
we know as letters. In contrast, mathematics signs
and symbols are often viewed as pictorial. They
may refer to an operation or an expression. It is
important that students not only learn the
meaning of each symbol, but also to connect each
symbol to the idea it represents. This is why
teaching only the vocabulary and rules does not
equate to effective problem solving.
[Note: As you work with instructors, ensure that
they comprehend that this area refers to the
application of math principles to calculation,
rather than computational errors in thinking. The
error patterns noted by the analysis did not find
that students could not compute numbers, but
rather that they had difficulty with conceptually
understanding what they were to do with the
numbers. Its the ageold adage that students
know how to do the math, they just dont
understand what the question is asking. It is
important when discussing the variance in the
questions that are identified as errors in applying
basic math principles to calculation, that
instructors begin to identify different ways to
create classrooms where communication about
mathematical ideas is primary in the learning
process.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
10
Slide 10 10
Math Themes Most Missed
Questions
Theme 1: Geometry and
Measurement
Theme 2: Applying Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Theme 3: Reading and Interpreting
Graphs and Tables
Principles and Standards for School
Mathematics (NCTM 2000) encourages
instructors to move away from giving students
just the typical array of drill and skill
problems and instead to challenge them with
experiences that improve their problem
solving and transference skills.
Discuss that three primary themes were
identified by the study as being the areas in
which the GED candidates had the most
difficulty. This section of the workshop will
deal specifically with the area of applying
basic math principles to calculation.
[Note: For each section of the workshop, you
may wish to begin with a math starter/math
bender. If a workshop is being conducted only
in the area of applying basic math principles
to calculation, you will also want to include a
basic icebreaker in order to allow instructors
time to introduce themselves, as well as
setting the stage for the workshop.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
11
Slide 11 11
An Unusual Phenomenon
Select a fourdigit number (except one that has
all digits the same).
Rearrange the digits of the number so they form
the largest number possible.
Now rearrange the digits of the number so that
they form the smallest number possible.
Subtract the smaller of the two numbers from
the larger.
Take the difference and continue the process
over and over until something unusual happens.
What happened to the numbers?
Does this work with all numbers? Why or why
not?
[Note: This is a sample activity called the
endless loop. You may wish to include a
different math starter activity to open the
workshop. Instructors may wish to use a
calculator. This type of brainteaser activity
provides students with a beginning type of
activity in which they can practice using the
Casio fx260 Solar calculator. Students may
wish to explore whether they can discover
numbers where this phenomena will not
occur.]
Math starters are useful in the GED classroom
to engage students in the learning process,
while having fun exploring and discovering
math. The primary goal of math starters
should be to build team work while
developing new skills and knowledge. From
math starters, students can learn not only the
what, but also the why, and how of
the topic. The real benefit of creating math
starters for the GED classroom is that the
activities can meet the individual needs of
the student and the subject matter being
taught.
This math starter requires that students
explore and discovery a phenomena regarding
numbers, as well as practice using the
calculator for tedious types of computation.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
12
Slide 12 12
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Its clear that both groups find the same
questions to be most difficult and both groups
are also prone to make the same primary errors.
0 Different
20 Same
Applying Basic
Math Principles
to Calculation
Summarizing Comparison of Most
Commonly Selected Incorrect Responses
As you know, the most frequently missed
items occurred equally on both parts of the
GED Mathematics Test. But how did each
group, Near and Below, perform on the test
items? Did these two groups miss the same
types of items or with the difference in SEM,
did they miss different types of items?
Its clear that both groups found the same
types of questions to be most difficult. Also,
as we look at the different types of questions
that were missed, you will notice that similar
error patterns also occurred. GED candidates
not only missed similar questions, but they
also selected the same incorrect answer,
known as a distracter.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
13
Slide 13 13
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Visualizing reasonable answers, including
those with fractional parts
Determining reasonable answers with
percentages
Calculating with square roots
Interpreting exponent as a multiplier
Selecting the correct equation to answer
a conceptual problem
Review the different types of questions that
were most missed by students.
[Note: Share with instructors that, according
to the statistical study, use of the calculator
does not appear to assist students in their
ability to apply basic math principles to
calculation and obtain the correct answer.
The statistical study shows that students miss
as many problems in Part I as they do in Part
II in the area of applying basic math
principles to calculation. Eleven of the 20
identified questions appeared on Part I where
the calculator is available. The calculator can
provide an alternate means of determining
the correct response for certain questions.
Candidates should have practice with this
strategy so that they can use the technique
on the test. For both halves of the test,
having a sense of what is reasonable will go a
long way towards selecting the appropriate
alternative.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
14
Slide 14 14
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
When Harold began his wordprocessing job, he could
type only 40 words per minute. After he had been on
the job for one month, his typing speed had increased
to 50 words per minute.
By what percent did Harolds typing speed increase?
(1) 10% (2) 15% (3) 20% (4) 25% (5) 50%
Lets take a look at some of the different
types of questions that were missed by the
GED candidates and what distracters were
most often selected and why.
This question was intended for Part II. Any
percentages found on Part II will involve only
simple calculation. Candidates who can
estimate/calculate 10% of any number and
25% of a whole number will have an
advantage on problems of this type.
If they cannot remember how to figure
percentages, what tip or technique would
assist students in solving this type of
problem?
[Note: Take some time to have the
instructors discuss different techniques that
they use with students in the area of
percentages.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
15
Slide 15 15
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Harolds typing speed, in words per minute, increased
from 40 to 50.
Increase of 10% = 4 words per minute; 40 + 4 = 44; not
enough (50).
Increase of 20 % (10% + 10%); 40 + 4 + 4 = 48; not
enough.
Increase of 30% (10% + 10%+ 10%); 40 + 4 + 4 + 4= 52;
too much.
Answer is more than 20%, but less than 50%; answer is
(4) 25%.
Think about how it would assist a student in
solving this type of problem, if he/she could
find 25% of any number. However, some
students have difficulty in figuring 25%, even
if instructors show them how they can first
half a number and then half the result again.
For some students, being able to multiply any
number by 10% can provide a good estimate
from which to base a correct answer. Review
the thinking process to solve this most missed
question type by using a simple calculation of
10%.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
16
Slide 16 16
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
A positive number less than or equal to is represented
by x. Three expressions involving x are given:
(A) x + 1 (B) 1/x (C) 1 + x2
Which of the following series lists the expressions from
least to greatest?
(1) A, B, C
(2) B, A, C
(3) B, C, A
(4) C, A, B
(5) C, B, A
What strategy can be used to solve this type
of problem by students who feel that they do
not understand algebra? Substitution of a
number for the letter x is a method that
students can easily use if provided with
multiple experiences in the classroom.
[Note: Model the process with instructors.
Have them identify the conditions of the
number: a positive number less than or equal
to . Discuss whether or not the number can
be a decimal. Why or why not? Select a
number for x that agrees with the
information in the first sentence and have
the group solve the problem. Use different
numbers to show transference of the concept
of substitution.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
17
Slide 17 17
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
A positive number less than or
equal to is represented by x.
Three expressions involving x
are given:
(A) x + 1 (B) 1/x (C) 1 + x
2
Which of the following series
lists the expressions from least
to greatest?
(1) A, B, C
(2) B, A, C
(3) B, C, A
(4) C, A, B
(5) C, B, A
Select a fraction and
decimal and try each.
0.1
Evaluate A, B, and C using
and then 0.1.
A: 1 A: 1.1
B: 2 B: 10
C: 1 C: 1.01
Arrange (Least Greatest)
1 , 1 , 2 (C, A, B)
1.01, 1.1, 10 (C, A, B)
[Note: This is an example of the problem
being solved using a fraction and then a
decimal number.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
18
Slide 18 18
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
A survey asked 300 people which of the three primary
colors, red, yellow, or blue was their favorite. Blue was
selected by 1/2 of the people, red by 1/3 of the people,
and the remainder selected yellow. How many of the 300
people selected YELLOW?
(1) 50
(2) 100
(3) 150
(4) 200
(5) 250
This question was designed for Part II. As is
true with any percents on the GED
Mathematics Test, any calculation with
fractions on Part II is relatively easy.
[Note: For many of these questions, you may
wish to have instructors assess the question
and what they think the students did
incorrectly and what type of strategy would
have assisted students in improved problem
solving skills.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
19
Slide 19 19
produced passed
A
produced passed
B
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Of all the items produced at a manufacturing plant on
Tuesday, 5/6 passed inspection. If 360 items passed
inspection on Tuesday, how many were PRODUCED that day?
Which of the following diagrams correctly represents the
relationship between items produced and those that passed
inspection?
Visualizing a Reasonable Answer When
Calculating With Fractions
Does this make sense?
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
20
Slide 20 20
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Of all the items produced at a manufacturing plant on
Tuesday, 5/6 passed inspection. If 360 items passed
inspection on Tuesday, how many were PRODUCED that day?
(1) 300
(2) 432
(3) 492
(4) 504
(5) 3000
Hint: The items produced must be greater than the number passing
inspection.
Which incorrect alternative do you think was
selected most often? 300! Students did not
visualize that the number of items produced
could not be less than those that passed
inspection. They set up the problem to
multiply 360 x 5/6 and got the answer 300.
Visualization is a very important skill in
mathematical problem solving.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
21
Slide 21 21
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Instructors may not realize that their
students do not or cannot visualize the
mathematics problem with which they are
working. You may wish to have them check
their own visual learning style by drawing
some of the following reallife items that
they experience everyday to scale. Select
some or all of the items. Once instructors
have drawn them to scale, have them check
their accuracy by comparing them to the
actual item.
Draw circles the size of a penny, nickel, dime
and quarter.
Draw a circle the size of the bottom of a soda
can.
Draw a rectangle the size of a dollar bill.
Draw a square that is the size of a key on a
computer keyboard.
Draw a line that is the length of your foot.
Draw a rectangle the size of a credit card.
Draw ovals the size of a large paperclip and a
small paperclip.
Draw a rectangle the size of a business card.
[Note: Visualization is an important skill for
students to possess. You may wish to have
instructors identify ways in which they can
assist students to see math in order to
better evaluate whether or not their answers
are reasonable.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
22
Slide 22 22
inside
diameter
1.436 in
outside diameter
1.500 in
x x
+ 1.436 + = 1.500
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
A crosssection of a uniformly thick piece of
tubing is shown at the right. The width of
the tubing is represented by x. What is the
measure, in inches, of x?
(1) 0.032
(2) 0.064
(3) 0.718
(4) 0.750
(5) 2.936
Which was the distracter selected by
students? Why?
Have instructors brainstorm how this question
can be answered. It can be answered by
subtracting and dividing, or it can also be
answered by only adding.
[Note: This question was designed for Part 1
of the GED Mathematics Test. However, it
can be easily solved without a calculator.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
23
Slide 23 23
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Exponents
The most common calculation error appears
to be interpreting the exponent as a
multiplier rather than a power.
On Part I, students should be able to use
the calculator to raise numbers to a power
several ways.
On Part II, exponents are found in two
situations: simple calculations and
scientific notation.
When numbers are written in scientific
notation, candidates should recognize that
positive exponents represent large numbers
and negative exponents represent small
decimal numbers; they must be able to
convert from one expression to the other.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
24
Slide 24 24
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
If a = 2 and b = 3, what is the value of 4
a
a
b
?
(1) 96
(2) 64
(3) 48
(4) 2
(5) 1
This question was designed for Part I, so the
calculator could be used to find the correct
answer. Negative exponents mean that
instead of multiplying that many of the base
together, you divide by the indicated number
of factors. Example: 4^2 =16, and 2^ 3 = 1/8.
The way most people think of negative
exponents is put it in the bottom of the
fraction. A negative exponent is often
thought of as a reciprocal so that 2^ 3 = 1/2
x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8.
[Note: According to the statistical analysis,
only one operational form of the GED
Mathematics Test was found to have had a
question that used negative exponents.
However, a significant number of students
missed this question.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
25
Slide 25 25
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
Calculation with Square Roots
Any question for which the candidate must
find a decimal approximation of the square
root of a nonperfect square will only be
found on Part I.
Questions involving the Pythagorean Theorem
may require the candidate to find a square
root. Other questions also contain square
roots.
Review the types of square roots that are
generally found on Part I (calculator) versus
Part II (paper and pencil). Square roots found
on Part II are those that are generally those
represented by whole numbers, such as the
square root of 100 or 16 or 9 or 4. Square
roots found on Part I, where the calculator
can be used, may result in a decimal, such as
the square root of 5 or 7 or 10.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
26
Slide 26 26
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
The Golden Rectangle discovered by the ancient Greeks
is thought to have an especially pleasing shape. The length
(L) of this rectangle in terms of its width (W) is given by
the following formula.
L = W (1 + 5)
2
If the width of a Golden Rectangle is 10 meters, what is its
approximate length in meters?
(1) 6.1 (2) 6.6 (3) 11.2 (4) 12.2 (5) 16.2
This question may be difficult even with the
calculator. Is there another way to get an
idea of what the correct answer may be?
[Note: Throughout history, the ratio for
length to width of rectangles of 1.61803
39887 49894 84820 has been considered the
most pleasing to the eye. This ratio was
named the Golden Ratio by the Greeks. We
use the Greek letter Phi to refer to this ratio.
Like Pi, the digits of the Golden Ratio go on
forever without repeating. A Golden
Rectangle is a rectangle in which the ratio of
the length to the width is the Golden Ratio.
In other words, if one side of a Golden
Rectangle is 2 ft. long, the other side will be
approximately equal to 2 * (1.62) = 3.24.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
27
Slide 27 27
Most Missed Questions: Applying Basic
Math Principles to Calculation
L = W (1 + 5)
2
The width (W) is known to be 10.
L is more than W (1 + 4)
2
L is more than 10 (1 + 2)
2
L is more than 10 3
2
L is more than 15.
Only one alternative fits the conditions set.
(1) 6.1 (2) 6.6 (3) 11.2 (4) 12.2 (5) 16.2
Suppose a GED candidate is reluctant to
use/trust the calculator but knows that 5 is
slightly more than 4, and also knows that 4
is 2. Mental math and estimation skills can
assist students in solving problems that they
may otherwise just skip.
[Note: Have instructors brainstorm other
situations in which students can use
approximation in order to obtain a reasonable
alternative that fits the conditions set by the
problem.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
28
Slide 28 28
Final Tips
Candidates do not all learn in the same manner.
Presenting alternate ways of approaching the
solution to questions during instruction will tap
more of the abilities that the candidates possess
and provide increased opportunities for the
candidates to be successful.
After the full range of instruction has been
covered, consider revisiting the following areas
once again before the candidates take the test.
Review the ideas on the slide.
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
29
Slide 29 29
Tips from GEDTS: Applying Basic Math
Principles to Calculation
Replace a variable with a REASONABLE number, then test
the alternatives.
Be able to find 10% of ANY number.
Try to think of reasonable (or unreasonable) answers for
questions, particularly those involving fractions.
Try alternate means of calculation, particularly testing the
alternatives.
Remember that exponents are powers, and that a negative
exponent in scientific notation indicates a small decimal
number.
Be able to access the square root on the calculator;
alternately, have a sense of the size of the answer.
Kenn Pendleton, GEDTS Math Specialist
Students need a strong number sense in order
to focus on what strategies are required to
solve a problem, detect errors quickly, and
develop a commonsense approach to
numbers. However, being able to calculate
numbers competently and accurately is only
the first step. Students must also be able to
make decisions regarding the best method to
use for a particular situation and then to
transfer those skills to other situations.
[Note: GEDTS recommends that after the full
range of instruction has been covered, that
these specific areas of learning be reviewed
prior to the test.]
Application of Basic Math Principles to
Calculation
30
Slide 30 30
Reflections
What are the mathematical concepts that you feel are
necessary in order to provide a full range of math
instruction in the GED classroom?
What naturally occurring classroom activities could serve
as a context for teaching these skills?
How do students representations help them communicate
their mathematical understandings?
How can teachers use these various representations and
the resulting conversations to assess students
understanding and plan worthwhile instructional tasks?
How will you incorporate the area of applying basic math
principles to calculation, as identified by GEDTS as a
problem area, into the math curriculum?
So, how can you help students better
understand how to identify the correct
process to use in calculating word problem
and to become better problem solvers?
Take a few minutes to reflect on the
following questions. Share your ideas with
your group.
What are the mathematical concepts that
you feel are necessary in order to provide a
full range of math instruction in the GED
classroom?
What naturally occurring classroom
activities could serve as a context for
teaching these skills?
How do students representations help
them communicate their mathematical
understandings?
How can teachers use these various
representations and the resulting
conversations to assess students
understanding and plan worthwhile
instructional tasks?
How will you incorporate the area of
applying basic math principles to calculation,
as identified by GEDTS as a problem area,
into the math curriculum?
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 71
C H A P T E R 7
Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning
A problem is simply a request for a satisfactory outcome to a given situation. Solving
the problem requires a method of organizing the given information and using that in
formation, along with personal knowledge, to obtain an outcome or solution.
Human beings are born problem solvers. Babies, toddlers, and young children learn
through problem solving. Although it sounds simple, problem solving is a very difficult
skill for many people. Teaching problem solving is a challenge for many teachers.
This section of the GED Mathematics Training Institute Manual will focus on problem
solving and its relationship to teaching mathematics.
To apply skills in mathematics successfully, students must to be good problem
solvers. However, many adults in GED programs struggle with problem solving, es
pecially problems with multistep operations.
Students who struggle with problem solving often fail to:
yRead the problem carefully and pay attention to detail.
yDefine the type of answer required and eliminate extraneous information.
yIdentify key words that will assist in choosing the correct operation or, in the case
of multistep problems, the correct operations.
yIdentify a strategy that will work in solving the problem.
yUse a graphic organizer.
ySet up the problem correctly and remember the order of operations.
yUse mental math and estimation skills.
yCheck the answer for reasonableness.
yUse a calculator with care and always doublecheck the answers.
For most students, the important part of working on a word problem is arriving at an
answer. However, students need to learn that problem solving is a process and that
when they learn the process they can transfer that knowledge to other types of prob
lems. In the GED classroom, teachers need to spend time working with students
through each of the steps listed above. The following information can assist teachers
in this process.
Read the Problem Carefully
The first mistake students make when trying to solve a problem is not to read care
fully. They think they know what the problem is asking them to do. Unfortunately, they
Areas of Concern
for Students
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 72
make the wrong decision. Reading comprehension skills are important in math and
often underestimated.
TEACHERS SHOULD
ySpend time reading word problems with students and then deconstructing parts of
the problem.
yHelp students find important information in the word problem.
yUse a graphic organizer to help students find the main idea of the problem.
Define the Answer Needed
Many students struggle to identify exactly what the question is asking them to do.
They fail to pay attention to the details included in the problem and to exclude extra
neous information or distractors.
TEACHERS SHOULD
yProvide students with sample problems at a variety of levels of difficulty.
yHave students work in groups and identify the following for each sample problem:
 What information do they know?
 What information is not needed?
 What is the problem asking?
 How does the answer have to be expressed?
yHave students discuss how they arrived at their decision for each problem.
yDiscuss with students any problems they encountered and how they addressed
each problem.
Identify Key Words
Many GED students have limited mathematics vocabulary. Students who dont rec
ognize and understand the meaning of terms such as difference, per, ratio, quotient,
etc., will continue to struggle with word problems. Their limited vocabulary will prevent
them from being able to determine what the question is asking them to do.
TEACHERS SHOULD
yProvide students with sample word problems and have them identify key words
such as increase, product, area, etc.
yWrite the key math terms on charts around the room. Have students add new
words as they come across them in different problems.
yProvide students with a math dictionary that they can use to add new words, defi
nitions, and examples.
yUse math words to develop students vocabulary and then play games such as
math jeopardy or bingo.
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 73
Students need a process that they can use consistently when solving problems.
George Polya was a great advocate of encouraging the use of problemsolving tech
niques in learning mathematics. His process involves the four steps listed below. He
also outlined numerous strategies for each step, some of which are also included in
the following list.
1. Understand the problem
yFirst, understand the problem.
yWhat is the unknown? What are the data? What is the condition?
yIs it possible to satisfy the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the
unknown or is it insufficient? Redundant? Contradictory?
yCan you draw a figure to introduce a suitable notation?
yCan you write down the various parts of the condition?
yWhat does the problem measure and what questions must be answered to solve
it?
2. Devise a plan
ySecond, find the connection between the data and the unknown. If an immediate
connection cannot be found, auxiliary problems may need to be considered. Even
tually a plan for the solution should be obtained.
yHave you seen the problem before in a slightly different form?
yDo you know a related problem? Do you know a theorem that could be useful?
yLook at the unknown and try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a
similar unknown.
yCan you use a problem related to yours that was solved previously? Can you use
its result? Can you use its method? Should you introduce some auxiliary element
in order to make its use possible?
yCan you restate the problem?
yIf you cannot solve the proposed problem, try first to solve some related problem.
Can you imagine a more accessible related problem? A more general problem? A
more special problem? An analogous problem? Can you solve a part of the prob
lem? Keep only a part of the condition of the problem and drop the other part. How
far is the unknown from what needs to be determined? Can you derive something
useful from the data in order to determine the unknown? Can you change the un
known so that the new unknown and the new data are nearer to each other?
Introduction to
NCTM Method for
Problem Solving
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 74
yDid you use all of the data? Did you use the whole condition? Have you taken into
consideration all essential notions involved in the problem?
3. Carry out the plan
yThird, carry out your plan.
yCarrying out your plan of the solution, check each step. Can you see clearly that
the step is correct? Can you prove that it is correct?
yIf the plan does not seem to be working, start over and try another way.
4. Look back
yFourth, examine the solution obtained.
yCan you check the result? Can you check the argument? Is the answer reason
able?
yCan you derive the solution differently? Can you see it at a glance? Is there an
other way of solving the problem that may be easier?
yCan you use the result, or the method, for some other problem?
Adapted from Polya, G. (1954). How to Solve It. (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press.
Polya, G. (1980). On Solving Mathematical Problems in High School. In S. Krulik
(Ed.), Problem Solving in School Mathematics (pp.12). Reston, VA: NCTM.
TEACHERS SHOULD
yReview the fourstep method with students.
yProvide students with opportunities to try different problems in a lowrisk environ
ment so that they can make mistakes and learn from them; share solutions and
problems with each other; and develop their own strategies.
yTeach students a variety of strategies for solving different types of problems.
ProblemSolving Strategies
Step 2 in the fourstep method requires that students identify a specific strategy to
solve a problem. There are many different strategies students can use to solve a
problem. In an ideal situation, students should be comfortable with various strategies.
Many students coming to the GED classroom have only one or two strategies with
which they are comfortable. Provide time for students to explore and discover addi
tional strategies that they can use to become more effective problem solvers. The fol
lowing are some strategies that should be incorporated into the modeling of good
problem solving. Be sure to provide opportunities for students to discuss and explore
how best to use these strategies.
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 75
WORK BACKWARDS
This strategy requires that the student begin with the end in mind. The student starts
with the data presented at the end of the problem and ends with the data at the be
ginning of the problem. Working backwards is a tricky strategy. It is used when a stu
dent isnt given the information that would fit in the beginning of a problem.
MAKE A TABLE, CHART, OR LIST
Another strategy for solving problems is making an organized list. By developing a
list, table, or chart, students can count the number of options available or see a pat
tern to make a decision. Students should be comfortable with both reading and de
veloping tables and charts. The GED Mathematics Test has a variety of graphic
displays, including tables and charts. To be successful solving problems that include
graphics, students must first know how to construct them. Making a table, chart, or list
allows students to put data in an orderly arrangement that enables them to keep track
of data they have, find missing data, and clearly identify the data needed to answer a
specific problem.
FIND A PATTERN
Students who use this strategy must analyze patterns in data and then make predic
tions based on the analysis. A pattern is a regular, systematic repetition that may be
numerical, visual, or behavioral. When students identify the pattern, they can predict
what will come next and what will happen repeatedly in the same way. Finding pat
terns is an important problemsolving strategy.
DRAW A PICTURE OR MAKE A MODEL
Sometimes it helps if the student can actually see and/or touch the problem. In this
case, the student may choose to draw a picture or diagram or even make a model.
Objects and pictures can help the student visualize the problem. Although most stu
dents have problems with writing equations, equations are an abstract way of model
ing a problem. Drawing a picture or making a model can work really well for
kinesthetic learners who enjoy handson experiences.
GUESS, CHECK, AND REVISE
Although guess and check is the most frequently used problemsolving strategy,
many students forget to implement the third step in the processrevise. If students
spent more time revising, they would have fewer errors. When using this process, it is
important that students make a reasonable guess. They should then compute the
problem, check the guess that they made, and then revise if necessary. Although this
strategy can be tedious if the correct solution is not found soon, students should be
encouraged to use this strategy when they dont know another strategy to use to
solve a specific problem.
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 76
COMPUTE OR SIMPLIFY
Some problems require that the student use specific arithmetic rules. When solving
these problems, the student applies the rule or rules needed and calculates the an
swer. Students must be careful to use the correct order of operations when computing
an answer.
USE A FORMULA
Using a formula is an essential strategy for students preparing for the GED Mathe
matics Test, as well as for solving reallife math problems. Just like using a calculator,
students should view formulas as tools for completing math problems. While students
do not have to memorize formulas for the GED Mathematics Test (a formulas page is
included in the test booklet), they should know basic formulas to solve reallife prob
lems, including distance formulas, perimeter, area, volume, and conversion of tem
perature from Fahrenheit to Celsius or vice versa. These formulas can help them
solve reallife problems, such as how much paint to purchase for a room or the
square footage of carpet needed for an apartment or house.
CONSIDER A SIMPLER CASE
Multistep problems are some of the most difficult for students to solve. Often, stu
dents complete only a portion of the problem and thus end up with the wrong answer.
Help students avoid these types of errors by teaching them how to consider a simpler
case or break down a large problem into miniproblems. Sometimes students can
substitute smaller numbers to make it easier to understand. Then they can better see
the patterns or relationships among the numbers.
When a problem seems complex or has many parts to it, breaking it down into smaller
problems is an excellent strategy. It is much easier to solve these kinds of problems
in little steps than to try to solve it all at once.
PROCESS OF ELIMINATION
People use the process of elimination everyday. In math, it is possible to use the
process of elimination to find solutions to problems. Sometimes this process is much
easier than trying to set up an equation, use a formula, or apply some other problem
solving strategy.
USING MANIPULATIVES
Individual students learn in different ways. Manipulatives allow for the incorporation of
different learning styles into the learning process. Students can touch and move ob
jects to make visual representations of mathematical concepts. Manipulatives can be
used to represent both numbers and operations on those numbers. Manipulatives
also help teachers in assisting students to explore and discover information in new
and different ways. Ideally, manipulatives should be available for students to use at
any time to help them think, reason, and solve problems.
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 77
Graphic organizers are commonly used in reading and writing. They are also very
useful in the mathematics classroom. There are many different types of graphic or
ganizers that contribute both to reading mathematical problems and to addressing
problem solving. A graphic organizer is a visual representation of concepts, knowl
edge, or information that can incorporate both text and pictures. Examples include
such things as: Venn diagrams, brainstorming webs, mapping, and flow charts.
Graphic organizers allow the learner to visualize undiscovered patterns and relation
ships.
Examples of graphic organizers from the Access Center include the following:
Hierarchical Graphic Organizer
The following organizer shows different types of polynomials and provides both ex
amples and nonexamples:
POLYNOMIALS
MONOMIAL
(polynomial of one term)
BINOMIAL
(polynomial of two terms)
TRINOMIAL
(polynomial of three terms)
5 5a + 5b 5a + 6c +12d
x 10h + 10i x + 2x
2
+ 4x
3
5b 10 + 12i x
2
+ 3x
2
+ 6x
(nonexample)
1/5 7y 2x 3 + 4x + x
2
10/2 3x 4x (nonexample)
5a + 5a
Sequence Charts
This type of organizer shows the order of a sequence or process. The following is an
example of a sequence chart showing Polyas FourStep Problem Solving Method:
POLYAS FOUR PROBLEMSOLVING STEPS
1. Understand the Problem
(What is the goal? Draw a representation.)
2. Devise a Plan
(Is there a similar problem I can relate to this?)
3. Carry Out the Plan
(Carry out plan and check each step.)
4. Look Back
(Check the answer for reasonableness.)
Adapted from Polya (1954)
Graphic Organizers
for Problem Solving
Chapter 7Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning 78
Compare and Contrast or Venn Diagram
This type of graphic compares and contrasts differences and similarities across sets
of information. The following compares and contrasts prime and even numbers. It is
important that adequate space is provided for students to write.
Brainstorming
This is a useful strategy for developing a highly creative solution to a problem. Brain
storming is a lateral thinking process. It asks that people come up with ideas and
thoughts that may at first not seem to connect to the problem. However, brainstorm
ing can be particularly useful when students need to develop new ways of looking at
things. By developing a web design, students increase the richness of solutions ex
plored. They can then take these ideas and change and improve them to be useful in
solving a problem. The following is an example of a beginning template for a brain
storming web:
Adapted from The Access Center at:
http://www.k8accesscenter.org/training_resources/mathgraphicorganizers.asp.
Problem
2
0
0
5
K
e
y
C
u
r
r
i
c
u
l
u
n
P
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e
s
s
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C21
A P P E ND I X C : L E S S ON P L A N 2
Developing Data and Graph Literacy:
What Is the Story in the Graph?
Esther Leonelli, GED Math Teacher and Adult Numeracy Consultant
Identified Skills Gaps of GED Candidates
yMaking transitions between text and graphicsincluding translating graphics into text and text into graphics.
yInterpreting and comparing graphical dataincluding reading and interpreting graphs with and without scales or
detailed units of measure; distinguishing rates of change represented on a single graphic; and comparing rates of
increase/decrease for two or more plots of information.
yInterpreting and selecting tabular data for computation.
GED candidates must be able to examine a problem and select the correct process to solve it. This includes reading
and extracting information from graphs, charts, and tables. Candidates must have the conceptual knowledge to com
pare and contrast graphical representations and to recognize, interpret, and apply graphical representations to con
crete situations. Finally, they need to be able to apply graphing concepts and principles to model solutions to
problems.
In the content area of Data and Statistics, one of the four domains assessed on the GED, candidates must have the
capacity to interpret and use data presented in different formats and to solve problems or make predictions. This
means that a candidate must understand statistical concepts such as line of best fit; be able to construct, interpret,
and compare tables, charts, and graphs of statistical data; and be able to compare and contrast data sets.
Content Area/Theme Identified by GED Testing Service Data Analysis
Reading and Interpreting Graphs and Tables
NCTM Standards and Expectations
PROCESS STANDARDS
yBuild new mathematical knowledge through problem solving.
yMake and investigate mathematical conjectures.
yCommunicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others.
yCreate and use presentations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas.
NUMBER AND OPERATIONS
yUnderstand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.
DATA ANALYSIS AND PROBABILITY
yRepresent data using tables and graphs, such as line plots and line graphs.
ySelect, create, and use appropriate graphical representations of data, including scatter plots.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C22
ALGEBRA
yRepresent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic
rule.
Time Required for Workshop90 minutes2 hours
This workshop contains activities to develop teachers thinking about the concepts that are important for GED candi
dates to know. The lesson provides more than one possible handout for several of the activities. Teachers should
select the activity that best suits the needs of the learners and retain the second handout for a followup lesson.
Objectives/Learning Goals
Participants will be able to:
yInterpret points on a coordinate graph, in a nonquantitative manner using qualitative descriptions.
yOrganize data, make a scatter plot, look for overall trends, and draw conclusions about the relationship between
the factors.
ySketch graphs, match graphs to scenarios, and interpret graphs by informally examining slopes and rates of
change.
Prerequisite Knowledge
Participants should be able to:
yCollaborate with team members to solve specific problems.
yRead a basic table or chart.
yDraw a sketch of a line graph.
yWrite complete sentences.
yUse a number line horizontally and vertically, including estimating intervals or midpoints and creating scales.
Content/Cognitive Skills
This lesson addresses participants skills in making sense of trend and functional graphs. Rather than emphasizing
the mechanics and formulas of graphing, the activities in this lesson approach graphing from a qualitative, non
quantitative perspective. This is accomplished by exploring the relationships among plotted points, examining scatter
plots, and by sketching graphs, matching graphs to scenarios, and interpreting graphs by informally examining slopes
and rates of change. The intent is to use visualization of the coordinate plane and narrative to connect graphs to text,
text to graphs, and thus be able to interpret and analyze graphs and tables of data.
Materials/Resources/Internet Sites/Handouts
yFlip chart, markers
yHandouts (6)Activity #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6
yTransparenciesHandout #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6
yColored dot stickers ( inch diameter)
yYardsticks (one for each table)
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C23
yOverhead projector
yGraph paper, rulers, pen and/or pencils
yPlain transparencies; graph transparencies; erasable transparency pens
yGED Practice Test Form PD
Activity Procedure
INTRODUCTION TO LESSON/ACTIVITY STARTER
Before starting the lesson, create the following survey questions on the flip chart with corresponding charts for re
cording answers:
yHow far did you travel (miles) to come to this conference and how long (hours) was your travel time? (2 separate
newsprint surveys, one for airplane, one for car/bus)
yHow many years have you been working and how many years until you retire?
yHow many years in adult education and how many years have you lived in your current residence?
As participants enter the workshop room, ask them to answer the questions. (If time and space are limited, divide
entire workshop into 3 groups and ask each group to answer only 1 question.)
Instructional Outline
ACTIVITY #1: INTERPRETING POINTS ON A COORDINATE SYSTEM (15 MINUTES)
Using the graphs of Handout 1, have participants in pairs interpret Point A in terms of Point B. For example, A is
more expensive than B and A is cooler than B. Then interpret Point B in terms of Point A.
After 5 minutes, ask for volunteers for possible answers and debrief.
Points to make or consider:
yDid participants have difficulty interpreting the graph without a scale?
yNote convention of increasing values as you go up the vertical and along the right on the horizontal.
yWhy might one want to state the relationship between two points using either point as a reference? (Making con
versions between measures in science or financesi.e., money exchange ratesrequires such flexibility in com
paring and relating measures.)
Pass out Handout 2, which explores connections among three interrelated graphs. Take time to debrief. Ask for a
volunteer or two to explain their graphs and their reasoning.
ACTIVITY #2: SCATTER PLOTS (20 MINUTES)
Using the survey question data collected at the beginning of the lesson, assign each table/group to plot the data for
one of the newsprint questions. Depending on the number of tables, two tables may be assigned the same data.
Each group should draw the axes on a piece of newsprint, label the axes, and decide on a scale for each axis. Or
dered pairs from the data tables should then be used to make a scatter plot, using the dots on the graph for each
ordered pair of data. Ask a member from each group to also draw the graph on a blank transparency.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C24
Post the graphs. Collect the transparencies.
Review concepts of positive correlation, negative correlation, and no correlation with the participants. Discuss line of
best fit. Then ask them to apply these concepts to the scatter plots created by each group.
Ask volunteers to use yardstick to sketch a trend line (line of best of fit) on the graph on the wall (or you can draw it
on the transparency).
Interpreting Graphs
ACTIVITY #3: COMMUTING RECORD (15 MINUTES)
In this activity, participants interpret and analyze graphs using Handout 3 OR 4.
Present the graph in Handout 3 to participants. Tell them that it represents a portion of the morning commute of a
worker to his job. Ask participants to explain what is happening in each segment of the graph.
Discuss with the learners what the graph looks like.
Ask questions such as:
yWhere is the graph steepest? Where is it flat?
yWhat does the graph look like when he is walking slowly?
yWhat does the graph look like when he is walking faster?
yHow is an increase in speed shown on the graph? What does the steepness of the line at different places tell us?
yWhat happens to the graph when he is stopped? What does a horizontal line imply about speed?
Point to make:
yInterpreting graphs that have no scale focuses attention on the qualitative relationships between variables.
yWatch for picture of the event misconceptions (see extension below)distance from home decreases.
Extension:
yAsk participants to sketch another hypothetical commuting situation in which an individual both walks and takes
the subway to work.
yHave participants continue the graph to sketch the return trip home
Present Handout 4. Ask participants to sketch an informal graph for The price of a chocolate candy bar has risen
steadily over the past ten years. Discuss learners graphs. Ask learners to describe why they drew the graphs as
they did.
Points to make:
yGraphical representation of a speed or rate should reflect whether the rate is constant or changing.
ySlope is not described.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C25
yHorizontal axis is used generally to represent time on graphs showing continuous events or data over time.
yNonlinear change is often indicated by the word gradual for slow rates of change.
ACTIVITY #4: DOES THE GRAPH FIT THE DATA? (30 MINUTES)
Present participants with Handouts 5 OR 6.
Ask participants to work in groups to complete Handout 5.
Points to note:
yThese graphs require one to differentiate between linear situationssome with a constant rate of change, some
with a variable rate of change.
yThere is no distinction between discrete and continuous data in these scenarios.
yDiscrete data are countable and usually graphed with bar graphs or pictographs. For example, number of cars
sold by brand and number of children in families are both discrete amounts.
yContinuous data are not countable by individual units and usually involve measurement such as time, tempera
ture, and length.
yDiscrete data often are inaccurately displayed using lines or line graphs.
yDebrief responses. Circulate and ask them to identify what characteristics or descriptions enabled them to suc
cessfully match the graphs and descriptions. Ask participants to explain their choices for each scenario to the
whole group.
Present Handout 6. This is a matching exercise in which participants need to match text to graph to tables of data.
Ask pairs or groups of learners to work together on the exercise, matching the news items with the appropriate table
of data and then with the appropriate graph. When groups have finished matching items, they should write a story for
the missing graph.
When groups have finished, ask for volunteers to share their solutions. Ask participants to explain why they matched
the pieces.
Evaluation
Using the Official GED Practice Test Form PD, Part I, examine questions 1, 2 and 12. These are samples of data and
graphing questions that might be found on the official GED test. Ask participants to interpret the skills needed to an
swer these questions accurately and relate those skills to the instruction that has been delivered in this session.
SCATTER PLOTS
yQuestions 1 and 2, Test Form PD Mathematics Part II, Official GED Practice Test
INTERPRETING GRAPHS
yQuestion 12, Test Form PD Mathematics Part I, Official GED Practice Test
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C27
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 1
Interpreting Points on a Coordinate System
Interpret Point A in terms of Point B.
Now interpret Point B in terms of Point A.
Do the same for the following graph:
Source: Partners in Change Project. (1997). The Partners in Change Handbook: A Professional Development Curriculum in Mathe
matics. Boston: Boston University.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
B
A
Temperature
C
o
s
t
B
A
Wealth
T
h
i
c
k
n
e
s
s
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C29
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 2
Interpreting Points on a Coordinate System
The following three graphs provide information about 2 cars:
Which of the following statements are true?
yThe older car is the slower car.
yThe larger car has a more comfortable ride.
yThe car with the better gas mileage costs more.
yThe faster car gets better gas mileage.
Place points A and B representing the two cars on the graphs below.
Source: Adapted from Partners in Change Project. (1997). The Partners in Change Handbook: A Professional Development Curricu
lum in Mathematics. Boston: Boston University.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
B
A
Speed
A
g
e
B
A
Size
C
o
m
f
o
r
t
B
A
Cost
G
a
s
m
i
l
e
a
g
e
Age
S
i
z
e
Comfort
C
o
s
t
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C31
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 3
Commuting Trip of a Worker
This graph represents a portion of the morning commute to his job by one worker.
Explain what is happening for each section of the graph.
Write a story that describes his trip.
Source: Partners in Change Project. (1997). The Partners in Change Handbook: A Professional Development Curriculum in Mathe
matics. Boston: Boston University.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
A
B C
D E
Time
Distance
from home
F
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C33
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 4
Interpreting Graphs
Sketch a graph showing the following ideas:
The price of a candy bar has risen steadily over the last ten years.
Weight has increased over time.
Source: Adapted from Partners in Change Project. (1997). The Partners in Change Handbook: A Professional Development Curricu
lum in Mathematics. Boston: Boston University.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C35
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 5
Does the Graph Fit the Data?
I. Match the following scenarios with the graphs below. Label the axes.
1. The football was tossed into the air then fell to the ground.
2. The number of troops rose faster before the Gulf War than soon after the start.
3. The population of frogs decreased as the pond became more polluted.
4. The diameter of the cocoon increased rapidly at first, then increased more slowly as the caterpillar prepared
to change into a butterfly.
5. The temperature of the oven changed after the oven was turned on.
6. The length of time it takes to paint the gymnasium changed as the number of people painting increased.
II. Make up a scenario for each of the other unused graphs.
Source: Partners in Change Project. (1997). The Partners in Change Handbook: A Professional Development Curriculum in Mathe
matics. Boston: Boston University.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C37
L E S S ON P L A N 2 : H A N D OU T 6
Matching Tables, Graphs, and Stories
Governmental policy is often designed to affect the behavior of consumers, particularly when it affects public health.
When the Massachusetts legislature decided to raise the price of tax on cigarettes in January 1993, there was a no
ticeable change in the number of packs of cigarettes sold per month in the months prior to the tax and the months
after the tax became effective. The following graphs, tables, and narratives tell the story of that change from 1992
and 1993. However, all of them have been mixed up.
Graphs 1 through 4 and Tables 1 through 4 represent the story of four periods (quarters) from 1992 and 1993. News
stories 1 through 3 tell the story of three of the data sets. Match the tables, graphs, and stories and write a story for
the missing quarter. Then put all of the graphs in order from 1992 to 1993 and label the graphs according to the clues
given below.
Cigarette Sales Stories
NEWS ITEM #1
In these three months, the number of packs per month dropped steeply over the
first month, then climbed sharply for a month dropping more steeply in the third
month.
NEWS ITEM #2
In this quarter, the number of packs sold per month remained steady for the first
month, rose slightly in the second month, and dropped slightly in the third month.
NEWS ITEM #3
In this quarter, cigarette sales dropped moderately, leveled off, and then showed
a very slow gain in the last month.
NEWS ITEM #4
You write the story for this graph and table:
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 2Developing Data and Graph Literacy C38
Cigarette Sales (Quarterly)
Table 1 Table 2
Packs/Month in Millions Packs/Month in Millions
40 46
35 37
35 54
36 41
Table 3 Table 4
Packs/Month in Millions Packs/Month in Millions
36 45
42 45
51 48
39 46
Number of Cigarette Packs Sold in Massachusetts, 19921993
Source: Many Points Make a Point: Data, Statistics, and Graphs, EMPower Draft Materials, TERC 2001. Used with permission.
E. Leonelli, Developing Data and Graphic Literacy Session, GED Mathematics Training Institute, August 2224, 2006, Washington,
DC.
Packs/
month
(millions)
Time
Graph 1
Time
Packs/
month
(millions)
Graph 2
Packs/
month
(millions)
Time
Graph 3
Time
Packs/
month
(millions)
Graph 4
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C39
A P P E ND I X C : L E S S ON P L A N 3
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context
Myrna Manly, Author, The GED Math Problem Solver and International Adult Numeracy Consultant
Identified Skill Gaps of GED Candidates
The strand of algebra is connected to many of the themes identified by the GEDTS as problem areas for candidates.
Using variables, modeling situations with tables, graphs, and equations, and reading graphs are all integral to suc
cess on the GED Mathematics Test. Furthermore, when analyzing the practice tests, we see how regularly these
topics appear in the items, especially those that ask candidates to model (write a mathematical expression that de
scribes) a situation involving an initial quantity and a fixed rate of growth (yintercept and slope).
Content Area/Theme Identified by GED Testing Service Data Analysis
Algebra, Patterns, and Functions
NCTM Standards and Expectations
ALGEBRA STANDARD:
Instructional programs from prekindergarten through grade 12 should enable all students to
yUnderstand patterns, relations, and functions.
yRepresent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols.
yUse mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships.
yAnalyze change in various contexts.
Time Required for Activity90 minutes
Objectives/Learning Goals
Participants will:
yUncover the algebra in a rich real situation involving the fuel economy of various cars and use it for three pur
poses: test preparation, learning a life skill, and deepening mathematical understanding.
yModel the functional relationship between quantities using words, a table, an equation, and a graph.
yShare techniques for fostering understanding of what operations do.
yAnalyze and generalize the arithmetic operations that yield the given values.
ySuggest additional inquiries into the topic to allow personal buyin from students.
Prerequisite Knowledge
Students should be able to:
yPlot points on a coordinate graph
yComplete basic calculations
Content/Cognitive Skills
yContent: Algebra: Functions and relations, Modeling, Structure, and Language and representations
yCognitive: Conceptual understanding, Application/Modeling/Problem Solving
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C40
Materials/Resources/Internet Sites/Handouts
yEach table: Paper, pencil, calculator, blank transparencies, and erasable transparency pens, Form D of the GED
math practice tests.
yEquipment: Two screens, overhead projector, LCD projector, and computer
yHandouts: PowerPoint note pages; copies of handouts 1, 2, 3
Activity Procedure
INTRODUCTION
(PPT Slides #27) Algebra is more than learning the rules about moving symbols around.
yUse sample GED items from practice tests, noting modeling and insight into arithmetic operations and concepts.
yDiscuss broader meaning of algebra used in both the NCTM standards and in the specifications for the GED Math
Test.
yDiscuss other relevant GED specifications for geometry, measurement, and number sense.
(PPT Slide #8) Use practice test examples to show items with linear equations and graphs: PA #19, PD #11
PART 1
Objective: Familiarize teachers with the mathematics involved in a real situation and make the connection between it
and the requirements of the GED math test.
(PPT Slides #9, 10)
yIntroduce the Fuel Economy situation, mentioning the gas price issue and the new technology of hybrid vehicles.
(PPT Slides #11, 12)
yShow Honda Civic Cost Comparison graph and data table on handout, overhead, and LCD.
(PPT Slide #13)
yForm pairs or groups of three. Ask, Imagine that these two make up the stimulus for an item set on the GED. In
your group, discuss what questions could be asked? Then share with all at the table.
yWrite one suggested question per table on a transparency.
Likely questions in response:
1. After approximately how many years does the Civic hybrid cost less than the standard Civic?
2. After 10 years, how much less money is spent with the Hybrid?
3. Which of the following equations represent the cost (C) of the Civic Hybrid after y years?
 Construct table to justify.
 Use the graph to validate the yintercept and slope of line for Hybrid
(refer to the classroom facilitation guide).
4. How many miles can you expect to travel on one tank of gas if you are driving the standard Civic?
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C41
PART 2
Objective: Develop methods to engage students in the mathematics underlying a real, current situation.
(PPT Slide #14) Further exploration of the situation, involving critical reading of media, an important life skill.
ySay, Imagine that the graph and table are part of a newspaper article that you bring to class. How would you en
courage further inquiry into the situation?
yAsk participants to discuss the question at the table and then to share with the larger group some questions they
might ask.
Some possible questions in response:
1. What element of the graph and equation would change when the tax incentive for purchasing a hybrid is no
longer offered?
2. What would change if gas prices changed significantly? In what way?
3. What would be the effect if most of your driving is highway driving? City driving?
4. What if you drive only 10,000 miles a year?
PART 3
Objective: Share strategies and questions that can help students analyze and model a real situation.
(PPT Slides #15, 16) Show copy of website on overhead and refer to it in their handouts. Focus on the annual fuel
cost number provided on the website. Write a formula for it, analyzing the process.
[A very important part of this exercise is to get participants to share the strategies they used to understand what is
required to answer these questions. This addresses an important need for teachers, who frequently need strategies
or questions to use with students to help them understand whether and why to use different number operations.]
Ask, How did the website authors get that number? How would you figure out how much you spend on gas for your
car in an average year? Write a formula for annual fuel cost (A =).
Form groups of two or three. In your small groups, analyze the process of finding a way to get that number (a for
mula). After smallgroup discussions, share your ideas with the larger group. Some questions to guide the discussion:
yWhat quantities are involved?
yWhich operations should be used in the formula and why?
Some likely responses and strategies:
yAre any of the numbers fixed, or can they all change? [Annual fuel cost (A) depends on three variables: miles
driven = d, miles per gallon = m, cost of gas = g].
yAn increase in which element will also cause an increase in the annual fuel cost?
yAn increase in which element does not cause an increase in the fuel cost?
yObserve patterns in a table using simple numbers to predict an answer.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C42
yAsk probing questions, like How many 50s are in 15,000?
yUse common sense based on the situationwhen one element goes up, how should the cost behave?
(PPT Slide #17) Reflection: Discuss possible variations and extensions of this activity for the classroom. Show copy
of web page on overhead and explain the options offered.
Discuss possible personal scenarios to explore. Consider reversing the order of tasks in the activity, so that the equa
tion and graph are the ultimate results.
(PPT Slide #18) Reflect on how this activity embodies the ANN Principles for Curriculum:
Some likely responses:
1. Uses a real rich stimulus to arouse interest in traditionally stale topics.
2. Focuses on concepts and reasoning while facilitating procedures.
3. Uses questions that allow students to do the thinking.
4. Ties together the topics from geometry and number with an algebraic insight.
5. Uses the Internet to find information pertinent to the question.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C43
L E S S ON P L A N 3 : H A N D OU T 1
Vehicle Cost Comparison Facilitation Guide
Introduction
Introduce topic by discussing current gas prices and hybrid vehicles.
Show graph and data, asking what story they tell about the costs.
Discuss the Graph
What points on the graph correspond to the purchase price of the vehicles? Which cost changes as time goes by?
How is that shown in the graph? Which one increases less over time? About how long does it take for the hybrids
total cost to be less than the standard? About how much money is saved after 10 years by owning the hybrid?
Discover an equation for each line on the graph. Groups of students should create a table that shows the total cost of
each vehicle for year 0, year 1, year 5, and year 10. As you fill in the values, notice the procedure that you are re
peatedly using. Generalize the procedure using mathematical symbols in an equation that could be used to figure the
cost (C) over time. Use numbers for the quantities that do not change and letters for those that do. Compare your
equation to others.
Annual Fuel Cost
Using words, tell how you think the annual fuel cost was calculated. Use a different letter for each of the quantities
involved and write an equation for the annual fuel cost (A =?). Explain how you knew which operation (+, , , ) to
use.
Go to the website http://www.fueleconomy.gov and find the information on a car that interests you. Use your equation
from above to figure the annual fuel cost for your car. (Choose numbers for distance and gasoline prices appropri
ate for your situation.) If you usually (e.g., 90%) drive in the city, how would that change your calculations?
Solve a problem with significance for you, e.g., should you sell the car you own and buy a hybrid vehicle? How long
would it take before you save money?
Evaluation
Use items in the available official GED practice tests that require the ability to write a mathematical equation or ex
pression describing a situation given in words or in a graph.
Extension Activity
Run the comparison between the Honda Accord hybrid vs. the Accord standard. Are the results similar to the Civic
comparison?
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C45
L E S S ON P L A N 3 : H A N D OU T 2
Hybrid or Not?
Cost Comparison Over Time
Data for Cost Comparison
2006 HONDA CIVIC 2006 HONDA CIVIC HYBRID
MSRP
(Manufacturers suggested retail price)
$18,500* $20,000*
Miles per gallon
(average using 55% city and
45% hwy driving. Source: EPA)
34 50
Average annual fuel cost
(based on 15,000 annual miles and
gasoline prices of $3 per gal.)
$1,300* $900*
Tank size 13.2 gal. 12.3 gal.
* Costs include available incentives and are rounded to the nearest hundred
Sources: http://www.fueleconomy.gov, http://www.autos.yahoo.com
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30,000
35,000
40,000
0 5 10 15
Years Since Purchase
Dollars
Civic Standard Civic Hybrid
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 3Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through a Real Context C47
L E S S ON P L A N 3 : H A N D OU T 3
Comparison
2006 Honda Civic 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid
Customize Your Gas Prices & Annual Miles Switch to Metric units
EPA Fuel Economy
Fuel Type Regular Regular
MPG (city) 30 49
MPG (hwy) 40 51
MPG (combined) 34 50
Fuel Economy Estimates From Drivers Like You
Average user MPG 32.0 46.2
MPG range 23 to 40 36 to 60
Number of vehicles 46 46
View Individual Estimates View Individual Estimates
DISCLAIMER: The average user MPG estimates above are based on data from Your MPG users. DOE and EPA do not guarantee
the validity of these estimates.
Fuel Economics
Cost to drive 25 miles $2.15 $1.46
Fuel to drive 25 miles 0.74 gal 0.50 gal
Cost of a fillup $34.81 $32.44
Miles on a tank 404 miles 554 miles
Tank size 13.2 gal 12.3 gal
Annual Fuel Cost $1,292 $879
* Based on 15,000 annual miles and the following fuel prices: Regular Gasoline: $2.93 per gallon.
You may customize these values to reflect the price of fuel in your area and your own driving patterns.
Fillup cost and the distance you can travel on a tank are calculated based on the combined MPG and the assumption that you will
refuel when your tank is 10% full.
Comparison as pictured on http://www.fueleconomy.gov on July 11, 2004 (modified slightly to fit page).
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C49
A P P E ND I X C : L E S S ON P L A N 4
Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci
Susan Pittman, President, ELearning Connections, Inc.
Bonnie Vondracek, President, Vondracek Enterpises, Inc.
This lesson plan is used often in mathematics classrooms. Building on the problemsolving tips, skills, and strategies
presented during this Institute, redesign this lesson to address the gaps identified by the GED Testing Service.
Identified Skill Gaps of GED Candidates
GED candidates must be able to perform arithmetic computations quickly and accurately in each of the content areas
of the GED Mathematics Test. GED candidates should be able to use computational operations, such as finding ra
tios, to more accurately compare and contrast figures, as well as to translate such information into graphical formats.
The GED Mathematics Test also requires that students distinguish pertinent data from extraneous information pre
sented.
Content Area/Theme Identified by GED Testing Service Data Analysis
Graphic Literacy and Calculation
NCTM Standards and Expectations
PROCESS STANDARDS
yBuild new mathematical knowledge through problem solving.
yMake and investigate mathematical conjectures.
yCommunicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others.
yCreate and use presentations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas.
NUMBER AND OPERATIONS
yUnderstand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.
MEASUREMENT
ySolve problems involving scale factors, using ratio and proportion.
DATA ANALYSIS AND PROBABILITY
yUse observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations
from which the samples were taken.
yRepresent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs.
ySelect, create, and use appropriate graphical representation of data, including histograms, box plots, and
scatterplots.
yPredict the probability of outcomes of simple experiments and test the predictions.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C50
ALGEBRA
yRepresent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible,
symbolic rule.
Time Required for Activity12 class periods
Objectives/Learning Goals
Students will be able to:
yExplore and identify relationships based on data collected from multiple samples.
yIdentify patterns from data collected from multiple samples.
yCollect and appropriately display data graphically using a table and graph.
yApply the correct mathematical operation for calculating ratios.
yUse the appropriate type of graph to display data.
yAnalyze data and draw conclusions based on those data.
yCommunicate their mathematical thinking and conclusions to the teacher and fellow team members.
Prerequisite Knowledge
Students should be able to:
yConduct basic linear measurements.
yCollaborate with team members to solve specific problems.
yComplete a basic table or chart.
yConstruct a variety of graphs (line, chart, pie).
yPlot information on graph paper.
Content/Cognitive Skills
This lesson develops students problemsolving skills by posing specific questions that are answered by obtaining
data, calculating data, and then documenting the data on a graph. Students are then asked to analyze and to draw
conclusions about the data collected.
Materials/Resources/Internet Sites/Handouts
yTwo measuring tapes (if not available, provide yardsticks and/or rulers for each team of students)
yString
yScissors
yAt least 2 different color pens per group
yData Recording Form
yGraph paper
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C51
Activity Procedure
INTRODUCTION TO LESSON/ACTIVITY STARTER
Begin the lesson by asking students how they know what size clothing to purchase. Most people know what size they
wear. Ask students if they have ever gone to a store and tried on the right size only to find that it didnt fit. Ask stu
dents whether or not they think that all clothing of the same size fits the same way. Ask students why they think dif
ferent manufacturers make clothing of the same size with different measurements.
Explain that students will be working with different measurements and will then use their data to construct graphs and
draw conclusions about the data.
Divide the students into teams of four to five and provide each team with:
yTwo measuring tapes and/or yardsticks and/or rulers for each team of students
yString (use yarn if string is not readily available, but remember that yarn may stretch and skew the measurements)
yData Recording Form
yGraph paper
If possible, have both males and females in each group.
INSTRUCTIONAL OUTLINE
Instruct the students to measure the height and arm span of each person in their group. Share with students that a
persons height should be measured without shoes for better accuracy and that arm span should be measured from
the tip of the longest finger on one hand to the tip of the longest finger on the other hand with the arms outstretched
horizontally. As they measure, they should cut a piece of string equal to the two measurements. This can be accom
plished by measuring first and then measuring out the string OR by using the string as the measuring device, cutting
it, and then finding the length of the string. Either method should result in two pieces of string per person and two
measurements per person.
Have the students compare the difference between the lengths of string as they note the exact linear measurements
they find. Have them chart their findings on the Data Recording Form.
Monitor the students as they work. Check for accuracy in their measurements.
As students work through their measurements ask:
yWhat do you notice about the relationship between your height and your arm span?
Students should respond that they are very similar or almost the same or equal. If students have drastic differences
between the two measurements, have them remeasure and check for accuracy in their measurements.
yDid you find the same type of relationship between height and arm span among all the team members?
Students should respond that there were a few differences, but nothing significant. Again, if there are significant dif
ferences check for accuracy in measuring or in recording of the measurements.
yDid you find any differences between the males and females on the team?
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C52
Students should find little or no difference between the data on males and females.
Once students have finished this section of the chart, have them develop a graph to display the data. Students should
explore different ways that the data can be graphed. Most students should discover that a line graph is the best dis
play to summarize how the two pieces of information are related and how they vary depending on one another (de
pendent and independent variables). Students will need to develop a legend that indicates height versus arm span.
They should use two colors when creating the graph: one for height and another color for arm span.
yWhat conclusions can you draw based on the data you have collected?
Sample answers should include that measurements of arm span and height are similar. Have students remeasure
those individuals where there is a large discrepancy in the measurements.
Say: Now that you have your data recorded, lets find out what the ratio of height to arm span really is. Can anyone
tell me what a ratio is?
Students may respond that a ratio is when you compare two things or that it shows how much bigger one thing is
than another.
Have students give you some examples of ratios that they see in real life.
Students may respond with things such as gas usage (miles/per gallon) or driving speed (miles/per hour).
Ask: There are three ways that we can write ratios. What are they?
Students may respond that you can write them like a fraction (3/4), or with words (3 to 4), or with standard notation
(3:4). If students have difficulty remembering one or more of the ways to write ratios, then provide them with the addi
tional formats.
Ask: Is it important which number goes first?
Students should respond that it is important, because you have to remember what you are comparing to something
else. For example, if you are setting up a ratio to show the number of miles you can drive in one hour, you would
need to put the miles first and then the hour.
Now, have students calculate the ratio of their height to their arm span using the correct mathematical operation. No
tice how students express the ratio. They may write a ratio as 1:2 or 1/2 or 1 to 2. Any of these notations is correct.
Ensure that students write the ratio in the correct order indicated on the chart. The order is very important to ensure
that the ratio is correct.
As students are completing their calculations, ask each group the following question.
yBased on the data you have gathered, what is the ratio of your height to arm span?
Students should respond that the ratio is approximately 1:1. Discuss as a group the fact that most measurement tools
that we use do not always produce an exact measurement.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C53
If the group has discrepancies in their calculations of ratio, pull the group together and discuss the ratios that have
been calculated. Example: Group 1 has a ratio of 27/28 versus Group 2 who shows a ratio of 28/29. Both groups
have an approximate ratio of 1/1 or, in other words, they are almost equal.
Additional Practice
Have students return to their groups and complete the additional practice examples at the bottom of the Data Re
cording Form handout. Monitor the students as they make their measurements.
Ask students what relationships they found between the:
yHeight and foot measurements.
yHeight and shoulder measurements.
Students should respond that their height is approximately 6 times greater than the length of their foot and that their
height is approximately 4 times greater than the width of their shoulders.
Ask: If you write a ratio showing the relationship between your height and foot measurement, which number will need
to go first in the ratio?
Students should respond that their height will go first because they are determining the relationship between their
height and their foot measurements. The same will also apply in height to shoulder measurement ratios.
After students have completed their chart and graphs, have them explore other possible relationships. As students
work through exploring different relationships, share with them that early mathematicians also believed in relation
ships. One such individual was Vitruvius, who in the 1st century B.C. developed a set of proportional relationships for
different parts of the body.
Have students share their results with the class. Have them use their data to support their answers to the following
questions:
yWhat was the conclusion your group was able to draw about the relationship between arm span to height?
Students should draw the conclusion that ones arm span is equal to ones height.
yThe great artist da Vinci used the proportions of the Vitruvian Man, the proportional relationships first developed
by Vitruvius in the first century. From the data you collected, what types of relationships did you discover about
different parts of the body?
Students should share the different relationships that they discovered.
yWhat did you discover regarding the differences in the data for the proportions of males and females?
Students should find few, if any, differences in the data. They should have seen a pattern in which the comparison
between the measurements was very similar. However, they may have had one in which measurements were a little
different from all the rest.
yWhat did you discover about differences in the data for the proportions of taller versus shorter people?
Students should find few, if any, differences in the data.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C54
Evaluation
Check students work as they are completing their measurements and calculations. Compare and contrast the differ
ent graphs to view the appropriateness of the graphics used as well as their accuracy. Have students document what
they learned from their investigation in their mathematical journal and then share their comments with the class.
Mathematical journals are an excellent method to assess students skills at communicating their problemsolving
strategies. For this activity, students have focused on finding out what the question is asking. Have students write a
short paragraph describing what the problem was and how they went about solving it.
Sample Line Graph
This lesson provides students with practice in developing line graphs, an essential skill required for the GED tests.
The following is an example of a line graph similar to one on the GED Mathematics Test. The graph requires students
to be able to read the information on each axis of the graph, interpret the data provided, and draw conclusions to an
swer the question. Students who can construct line graphs are much more likely to be able to apply the information
they know about graphs to new situations.
GEDType Question
The profit, in thousands of dollars, that a company expects to make from the sale of a new video game is shown in
the graph.
What is the expected profit before any video games are sold?
(1) $0(2) $150 (3) $250 (4) $150,000 (5) $250,000
Question provided by GEDTS (2005)
Profit in
Thousands
of Dollars
0 4,000 8,000 12,000
$0
$200
$400
Video Games Sold
$200
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C55
Extension Activity (optional)
Collect all of the data from the entire class. Have students create two sets of data, one for males and one for females.
Have students create a multiline graph that depicts all data and is colorcoded to show males versus females. Stu
dents should have four lines on the graph.
You may wish to have students complete another type of graph where more than one item is compared. Have stu
dents develop ratios for comparing certain body measurements, such as 6 to 1 for foot to height.
Da Vinci agreed with other proportional values that Vitruvius put forth in his treatise. Share with students some of the
following proportions and have the students provide mathematical evidence for why they agree or disagree with each
statement based on their investigation.
yA palm is the width of four fingers.
yA foot is the width of four palms.
yA cubit is the width of six palms.
yA mans height is four cubits (twentyfour palms).
yA pace is four cubits.
yThe length of a mans outspread arms is equal to his height.
yThe distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is oneeighth of a mans height.
yThe maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of a mans height.
yThe distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is onefifth of a mans height.
yThe distance from the elbow to the armpit is oneeighth of a mans height.
yThe length of the hand is onetenth of a mans height.
yThe length of the ear is onethird of the length of the face.
yThe length of the foot is onesixth of a mans height.
Have students brainstorm where else they may need ratios. Have them make a list of ratios that they have come
across in daily life. Students may include items such as batting averages in baseball, paint formulas at home renova
tion centers, recipes, etc.
To the Trainer
You may wish to share with teachers the following background information, which will assist them in guiding students
through the discovery of proportional relationships.
Leonardo da Vinci was not only interested in art, but he was also very interested in the mathematical concept of pro
portions. Da Vinci studied the proportions of the human body based on an early work of Vitruvius, a Roman engineer
of the first century B.C. Vitruvius influenced Leonardo da Vincis work both in architecture and in his drawings of the
human figure.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C56
One of Leonardos drawings is called the Vitruvian Man. It is based on a
model of ideal proportions that Vitruvius established. The drawing shows a
square inscribed inside a circle. Inside is a man with outstretched arms and
legs. In fact, two pairs of each, which touch both the circumference of the
circle and the vertices of the square. By viewing the drawing, the con
clusion can be reached that the length of a mans arm span is equal to his
height. In other words, the ratio of the Vitruvian Mans arm span to his
height equals 1. You may wish to find the drawing of the Vitruvian Man by
downloading the picture from Wilkepedia at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man.
It is important that students have the opportunity to obtain data that they
can then graphically depict. Share with teachers the importance of having
students develop their own graphs and interpret graphics developed by
others. Ensure that appropriate legends and labels are used to identify
important information on all charts and graphs.
This lesson was developed using information and ideas from the following:
yAlejandre, S. Leonardo da Vinci Activity. The Math Forum @ Drexel University. Retrieved May 12, 2006, from
http://mathforum.org/alejandre/frisbie/math/leonardo.html.
yConstant Dimensions. Illuminations. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Retrieved May 12, 2006, from
http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?id=L572.
yLeonardo da Vinci Activity: Art, Nature, Ratios, and Graphing. MSTE. University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign.
Retrieved May 12, 2006, from
http://www.mste.uiuc.edu/courses/mat764fa03/folders/jleel/Standards/da_Vinci_Teacher.html.
yLeonardo da Vinci: Creative Genius. EDSITEment. Retrieved May 2, 2006, from
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=624.
yHumans Are Square. NASAexplores. Retrieved May 2, 2006, from
http://media.nasaexplores.com/lessons/04065/912_2.pdf.
yVitruvian Man Ratios. NASAexplores. Retrieved May 2, 2006, from
http://media.nasaexplores.com/lessons/02032/58_1.pdf.
yVitruvian Man. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 6, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man.
yWelcome to Leonardo. Boston Museum of Science. Retrieved May 6, 2006, from
http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/.
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.
Retrieved on May 6, 2006 from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man.
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C57
L E S S ON P L A N 4 : H A N D OU T
Data Recording Form
Identify each person in the group and place their names in the first column. List the height and arm span in the ap
propriate columns. For the following measurements, measure each persons height without shoes. Next, have each
person hold both arms out straight, horizontal to the floor. Measure the arm span from the tip of the longest finger on
one side to that of the same finger on the other side. Record all measurements to the nearest centimeter. Once the
data have been entered into columns one, two, and three, calculate the ratio of height to arm span and enter the ratio
into the final column.
NAME HEIGHT ARM SPAN HEIGHT/ARM SPAN
Do you see any patterns in the data you have recorded? Write a brief description of the pattern that you see.
What do you think would happen to the pattern if you had more measurements?
Additional Practice
Is there a relationship between the length of your foot and your height? How about the width of your shoulders com
pared to your height? What is the relationship?
Do you think other relationships exist among other body measurements?
Extension Activity
Can you find other pairs of body measurements that show relationships? What are they?
Appendix C: Lesson Plan 4Charting Data: An Activity From Leonardo da Vinci C59
L E S S ON P L A N 4 : H A N D OU T
Graph Paper
Developing Geometric Reasoning
1
Developing Geometric Reasoning
Mary Jane Schmitt
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
Developing Geometric Reasoning
2
Slide 2
Geometry
The notion of building understanding
in geometry across the grades, from
informal to formal thinking, is
consistent with the thinking of
theorists and researchers.
(NCTM 2000, p. 41)
In a previous presentation, this quote from the
NCTM Principles and Standards introduced the
section on geometry and measurement. In this
session, we will focus more specifically on
what researchers and theorists tell us about
how geometric understanding develops. Then
we will explore some activities where the
theory becomes apparent.
Do you sleep on a rectangle, drink out of a
cylinder, eat ice cream from a cone, or have
meals at a square table? Then you have
experienced geometry. Geometry touches on
every aspect of our lives. It is important to
explore the shapes, lines, angles, and space
that are woven into our students daily lives as
well as our own. In fact geo means earth
and metry.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
3
Slide 3
Geometry and Measurement
How does geometric understanding
develop?
Similarity a big idea
How does this apply to the GED?
Developing Geometric Reasoning
4
Slide 4
Geometry and Measurement
You have four rectangles.
Order them by size of area.
Ask people to talk to a partner about this.
Then ask for ideas  write the ideas on
newsprint or an overhead transparency.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
5
Slide 5
The Van Hiele Theory
Level 1:Visualization
Level 2: Analysis
Level 3: Informal deduction
Level 4: Formal deduction
Level 5: Rigor
Present levels 
The work of two Dutch educators, Pierre van
Hiele and Dina van HieleGeldof, has given us a
vision around which to design geometry
curriculum.
Through their research they have identified
five levels of understanding spatial concepts
through which children move sequentially on
their way to geometric thinking.
There are four characteristics of these levels
of thought:
The Van Hiele levels of geometric reasoning
are sequential. Students pass through all prior
levels to arrive at any specific level.
These levels are not agedependent in the
way Piaget described development.
Geometric experiences have the greatest
influence on advancement through the levels.
Instruction and language at a level higher
than the level of the student may inhibit
learning.
Talk about starting with establishing amount of
surface covered (example of comparing
shapes)  then establishing the square unit as a
way to quantify  use example of a 5 by 10
rectangle.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
6
Slide 6
Level 1: Visualization
Students can name and recognize shapes
by their appearance, but cannot
specifically identify properties of shapes.
Although they may be able to recognize
characteristics, they do not use them for
recognition and sorting.
Students manipulate physical models,
e.g., lay one shape on top of another.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
7
Slide 7
Level 2: Analysis
Students begin to identify attributes of
shapes and learn to use appropriate
vocabulary related to attributes, but do
not make connections between different
shapes and their properties.
In the example of the area of a rectangle,
students can count the component square
units.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
8
Slide 8
Level 3: Informal Deduction
Students are able to recognize
relationships between and among
properties of shapes or classes of shapes
and are able to follow logical arguments
using such properties.
See the relationship between length,
width, and area for all rectangles.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
9
Slide 9
Level 4: Formal Deduction
Students can go beyond just identifying
characteristics of shapes and are able to
construct proofs using postulates or
axioms and definitions. A typical high
school geometry course should be taught
at this level.
Students usually do not reach Levels 4 and 5
until high school or college, but teachers
should be aware of these levels nonetheless.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
10
Slide 10
Level 5: Rigor
Students at this level can work in
different geometric or axiomatic systems
and would most likely be enrolled in a
collegelevel course in geometry.
The NAEP says most of the 4th, 8th, and 12th
graders are operating at levels 1 and 2.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
11
Slide 11
Reflections
If you were going to teach finding the
area of a rectangle to a group of adults in
a preGED class, how would you start?
What activities might help students make
the leap and connect from Level 1 to
Level 2 to Level 3?
How would you include the three levels
when finding the areas of other polygons,
circles, or irregular shapes?
The NAEP says most of the 4th, 8th, and 12th
graders are operating at levels 1 and 2.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
12
Slide 12
GED Item Writers Manual
Relevant Content Area Specifications
Geometry and Measurement
Model and solve problems using the concepts of
perpendicularity, parallelism, congruence and similarity of
geometric figures (includes polygons, 3D figures, and circles).
Use spatial visualization to describe and analyze figures.
Use the Pythagorean Theorem, similarity, and right triangle
trigonometry to model and solve problems.
Solve and estimate solutions to problems involving length,
perimeter, area, surface area, volume, angle measurement,
capacity, weight, and mass.
Use rates in problem situations.
Read and interpret scales, meters, and gauges.
Predict the impact of a change in linear dimension on the
perimeter, area, and volume of figures
Developing Geometric Reasoning
13
Slide 13
Similarity
One of the big ideas of geometry
Shows up on the GED and in real life
Making reproductions
Interpreting scale drawings
In ABE classes where students are preparing
for the GED, the teaching of proof is rarely
taught  the first three levels are the focus.
Developing Geometric Reasoning
14
Slide 14
Final Reflections
Can you teach for understanding and
teach to pass the GED at the same time?
How does an ABE program build a
developmental math curriculum?
In ABE classes where students are preparing
for the GED, the teaching of proof is rarely
taught  the first three levels are the focus.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
1
Developing Algebraic Reasoning
Through a Real Context
Myrna Manly
August 2224, 2006
Washington, DC
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
2
Slide 2
What is Algebra?
Functions and Relations
Modeling
Language and Representations
Structure
(NRC 1998)
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
3
Slide 3
GEDTS
Analyze and use functional relationships
to explain how a change in one quantity
results in change in the other quantity,
including linear, quadratic, and
exponential functions.
Recognize and use direct and indirect
variation.
What is Algebra?
Functions and Relations
Give examples of how the outcomes of each
strand are used by adults in real situations.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
4
Slide 4
What is Algebra?
Modeling
GEDTS
Analyze and represent situations involving
variable quantities with tables, graphs,
verbal descriptions, and equations.
Create and use algebraic expressions and
equations to model situations and solve
problems.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
5
Slide 5
What is Algebra?
Language and Representations
GEDTS
Convert between different
representations such as tables, graphs,
verbal descriptions, and equations.
Analyze tables and graphs to identify and
generalize patterns and relationships.
Means for communicating mathematical ideas
inherent in realworld situations.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
6
Slide 6
What is Algebra?
Structure
GEDTS
Create and use algebraic expressions
and equations to solve problems.
Evaluate formulas.
Principles, properties, procedures that
permit all possible transformations on
symbols
All four of these major ideas will show up in
the cost comparing activity that we will do
today. Watch for them.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
7
Slide 7
Other Relevant GED Specifications
Measurement and Geometry
Find, use, and interpret the slope of a
line, the yintercept of a line, and the
intersection of two lines.
Number, Number Sense, Operations
Select the appropriate operation to
represent problem situations (e.g., when
do you divide?).
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
8
Slide 8
Examples from Practice Tests
Form PA #19: Write an equation from a
verbal description of the situation. Note
the fixed cost and the cost that varies.
Form PD #11: What element of the
equation changes when the starting
distance increases?
PA #19 on overhead.
PD #11 at tables.
You will find many items in the other
practice tests that require similar abilities 
analyzing a situation and translating the
relationships into an equation. It appears to
be one of the main themes that occurs and it
also has been isolated in Kenns research as
one of the most often missed.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
9
Slide 9
Comparing Vehicle Costs
A dynamic activity that
Requires the use of high school math.
Reflects the kinds of problems that are
prevalent on the GED practice tests.
Builds on a context that concerns
students today.
Is rich with possibilities for extensions.
These are some features to look for when
looking for a real context to use in the
classroom.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
10
Slide 10
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Situation:
High Gas Prices demand that we try to
cut back on our use.
Hybrid Vehicles use a combination of gas
and electricity to save fuel.
Hybrid Vehicles are more expensive to
buy than standard vehicles.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
11
Slide 11
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Data for Cost Comparison
12.3 gal 13.2 gal Tank size
$900* $1,300*
Average annual
fuel cost
(15,000 annual miles and
gasoline prices of $3 per
gal.)
50 34
Miles per gallon
(average using 55% city
and 45% hwy driving.
Source: EPA)
$20,000* $18,500*
MSRP (manufacturers
suggested retail price)
2006 Honda Civic
Hybrid
2006 Honda Civic
* Costs include available incentives and are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Sources: http://www.fueleconomy.gov http://www.autos.yahoo.com
Cost of hybrid was $22,150.
Current incentives are $2,100.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
12
Slide 12
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Hybrid or Not?
Cost Comparison over Time
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30,000
35,000
40,000
0 5 10 15
Years Since Purchase
D
o
lla
r
s
Civic Standard Civic Hybrid
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
13
Slide 13
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Imagine that the graph and table make
up the stimulus for an item set on the
GED Math Test. What questions could be
asked?
1. Discuss with a partner.
2. Share with your table.
3. Write one question per table on a
transparency and select a presenter.
(5 minutes)
Turn on overhead so that the participants can
explain their questions.
Follow up on the questions about the
equations by constructing tables and noticing
the pattern.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
14
Slide 14
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Imagine that the table and graph
appeared in a newspaper article that you
brought to class.
What questions can you ask that will
encourage the students to explore the
mathematics of the situation further?
 How did they get
 What if
 How would that affect
What questions does it bring to your mind?
Encourage critical reading of mathematical
data that reported in media.
Engage students in the situation.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
15
Slide 15
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Focus on Annual Fuel Costs. How did they
get that number? How would you figure
your own costs? A = ??
General Strategy
What elements are involved?
What operations apply? How do you know?
Build specialized math knowledge that is
critical for effective teaching mathematical
reasoning that goes deeper than the process
of finding an answer and is different than
standard pedagogy.
A recent study by Deborah Ball and her
associates showed that this kind of teacher
knowledge made a significant difference in
student success even at the firstgrade level.
Show website page on overhead.
How did they get the annual fuel cost
number? How would you figure your own
annual fuel cost?
Facilitation:
Students report out using transparencies
and overhead.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
16
Slide 16
Comparing Vehicle Costs
In your groups:
Analyze the process of arriving at
the formula for annual fuel cost.
Share techniques and questions that
can be used to foster understanding
of modeling this situation.
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
17
Slide 17
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Variations and Extensions:
Go to the websites referenced.
Explore a personal scenario vary the
parameters to fit own habits or
compare costs when selling own
vehicle.
Reverse the order build up to the
equation and graph.
??
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
18
Slide 18
Comparing Vehicle Costs
Reflect:
What are the prerequisite skills that students
should have in advance of participating in this
activity?
What reservations do you have about
implementing an activity like this in your
classrooms?
How does this activity embody the ANN
Principles of Teaching and Learning?
Did we address both test preparation and deep
understanding?
Developing Algebraic Reasoning Through
a Real Context
19
Slide 19
References
Pendleton, Kenn, Item Writers Manual, Test 5,
Mathematics. 1999, GED Testing Service, Washington, DC
National Research Council, The Nature and Role of Algebra
in the K14 Curriculum: Proceeds of a National
Symposium, 1998, National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences Education Board,
http://www.nap.edu/catalog/6286.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov
http:www.autos.yahoo.com
Appendix DBiographies D1
A P P E ND I X D
Biographies
Steve Klein, Director of Preparation for College and Career at MPR Associates, Inc.
has a B.A. in biology and an M.S. Ed. in educational leadership from the University of
Pennsylvania, as well as a Ph.D. in K12 Educational Policy from the University of
California at Berkeley. He specializes in the use of data to support accountability and
program improvement initiatives, as well as in school finance reform. He conducted
the analysis of the GED testing data that formed the basis for the GED Mathematics
Training Institute. In his current work with the Office of Vocational and Adult Educa
tion (OVAE), U.S. Department of Education, Steve is examining performancebased
funding in adult education. He also is working with OVAE to refine state postsecond
ary performance measurement and standards systems to address new accountability
provisions, and he collaborated with staff of the Office of Safe and Drug Free
Schools, U.S. Department of Education, to create a common reporting framework for
correctional education programs offered in state and federal prisons. Before he came
to MPR, Steve was a secondary math and science teacher.
Esther D. Leonelli holds a B.A. in mathematics from Emmanuel College and a J.D.
from Northeastern University School of Law. She is an educational consultant and
GED math instructor with nearly 20 years of experience in adult mathematics
education. For the past four years, she served as program director of the Notre Dame
Education Center in Boston, MA. Currently, she teaches GED mathematics at the
Blue Hills ABE Program in Canton, MA. Her consulting work in numeracy has
included developing ABE curriculum frameworks and curricula for the Massachusetts
Department of Education; curriculum development with the Technical Education
Research Centers (TERC) in Cambridge, MA; and teacher professional development
workshops in Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Esther is co
founder, past president, and board member of the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN),
an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She moderates the
ANN Numeracy list, an electronic discussion for adult education practitioners
(numeracy@worldstd.com). During 199899, Esther was a National Institute for
Literacy (NIFL) Literacy Leadership Fellow, working on a project integrating
mathematics, science, and technology.
Myrna Manly, a mathematics teacher with experience at many academic levels, re
tired in 2001 from her position as professor of mathematics at El Camino College.
She also has been involved with the assessment of the mathematics proficiency of
adults in various roles: as the mathematics specialist for the 1998 version of the GED
test; as a member of the numeracy team for the Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey
(ALL); and as the numeracy consultant for a similar international survey to be used in
developing countries, the Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP).
Myrna is past president of the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN) and author of The
GED Math Problem Solver. She also works with states and programs facilitating staff
development workshops aimed at improving mathematics instruction for adults.
Steven G. Klein
Esther D. Leonelli
Myrna Manly
Appendix DBiographies D2
Susan Pittman moved from special education to adult education in 1985. Her experi
ence working with students with learning disabilities provided a strong foundation for
working with adult learners, many of whom face similar learning challenges. For 16
years, Susan worked as a teacher and then districtlevel administrator in the Palm
Beach County (FL) Public Schools. As a GED teacher and GED chief examiner, she
has worked in all areas of adult education and continues to be a strong advocate for
increasing accountability while ensuring that students are the top priority. In 1999,
Susan started her own educational consulting firm, ELearning Connections, Inc. In
2001, she was chosen by the U.S. Department of Education and GED Testing Ser
vice to be one of the national trainers for the implementation of the 2002 Series GED
Tests. Susan presently works with teachers and administrators in more than 20
states, including Florida, Texas, Michigan, Colorado, and New York, developing and
delivering highquality, interactive professional development and resources designed
to meet the needs of students, teachers, and program managers.
Mary Jane Schmitt holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University and has been an adult
educator for more than 30 years. She has taught mathematics in ABE, GED, and ESL
programs. She has worked in community adult programs and at the Massachusetts
Department of Education. Currently she is a project director at Technical Education
Research Centers (TERC) in Cambridge, MA, where she has worked on several ini
tiatives funded by the National Science Foundation. Mary Jane is the coauthor and
coprincipal investigator for the Extending Mathematical Power (EMPower) Project
Mathematics Curriculum for Adult Learners, published by Key Curriculum Press. She
is a charter member and cofounder of the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN).
Bonnie Vondracek moved from teaching music to working with severely disturbed
adolescents in 1981, beginning a career focused consistently on the challenges of
providing highquality education to students who have more often experienced failure
than success. During her tenure in the Osceola County (FL) Public Schools, she
moved from the classroom to administration, but never left the classroom far behind.
Bonnie established her own consulting firm, Vondracek Enterprises, Inc. in 1999, fo
cusing on the development and presentation of staff development and training. An
avid researcher, she ties her own personal experiences in the classroom and admini
stration to the latest research on best practices. She was chosen by the U.S. Depart
ment of Education and the GED Testing Service to be one of the national trainers for
the implementation of the 2002 Series GED Tests. At present, Bonnie develops and
delivers highquality, highly interactive training and a wide range of instructional re
sources for teachers and administrators in adult, alternative, and vocational education
programs in several states and through such government agencies as the U.S. De
partment of Labor Job Corps programs.
Susan Pittman
Mary Jane Schmitt
Bonnie Vondracek
Appendix DStaff/Team Members Contact List D3
A P P E ND I X D
Staff/Team Members Contact List
Steven G. Klein
MPR Associates, Inc.
10505 SW Hedlund Avenue
Portland, OR 97219
(503) 6756619
sklein@mprinc.com
Esther Leonelli
17 St. John Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 5247050
ELeonelli@aol.com
Myrna Manly
12865 Silver Wolf Road
Reno, NV 89511
(775) 8513186
mmanly@earthlink.net
Susan K. Pittman
ELearning Connections, Inc.
9590 Shepard Place
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 2045060
SKPTVS@aol.com
Mary Jane Schmitt
TERC
2067 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 5470430
mary_jane_schmitt@terc.edu
Bonnie Vondracek
Vondracek Enterprises, Inc.
dba Education and Training Connections
1671 SW 32 Place
Miami, FL 33145
(305) 4420788 phone/fax
bv73008@aol.com
Cheryl Keenan
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457810
cheryl.keenan@ed.gov
Ellen McDevitt
FourthRiver Associates
PO Box 101037
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(412) 4867288
fourthriver@verizon.net
Daniel Miller
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457731
daniel.miller@ed.gov
Lynn Spencer
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457767
lynn.spencer@ed.gov
Ursula Lord
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457734
Ursula.Lord@ed.gov
Diane DeMaio
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457841
diane.demaio@ed.gov
Presenters
(alphabetically)
OVAE
Appendix DStaff/Team Members Contact List D4
Megan Phaneuf
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457835
megan.phaneuf@ed.gov
Ronna Spacone
Office of Vocational and Adult Education
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20065
(202) 2457755
Ronna.Spacone@ed.gov
Kathy Chernus
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
kchernus@mprinc.com
Joy Johnson
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
jjohnson@mprinc.com
Laura Rasmussen
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
lrasmussen@mprinc.com
Ruth Sugar
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
rsugar@mprinc.com
Gina Tauschek
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
gtauschek@mprinc.com
Michelle Tolbert
2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 410
Washington DC 20037
(202) 4781027
mtolbert@mprinc.com
OVAE
(continued)
MPR Associates,
Inc.