A couple of days ago, my 3rd grade son came home from school. Rather than just commenting that school was "fine" and asking for his customary after-school snack, he grabbed a piece of paper and - failing to find a suitable pencil - a crayon to show me what he learned in math. "A know at least four ways to show 2 x 3 = 6", he proudly announced upon completing the drawing. Thanks to the Common Core Standards and his teacher trying to use EngageNY curriculum, my son sees multiplication as something more than a list to be memorized, and he sees it as a useful concept connected to real-life...
...which brings me to today's Math Elevator Speech:
HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: "Duane…come on…my kid’s homework looks nothing like when I was a student. Why do the Common Core Standards force my student to do math in stupid ways?"
My Elevator Speech: Great question. There is a big difference between the Common Core Standards and the curriculum schools are using to teach those standards. The “standards” are the carefully selected and arranged list of topics students are to learn each year, while the “curriculum” is the tool teachers use to make that happen. Since the standards are arranged such that students can spend more time on each topic, the curriculum now has a fighting chance to teach the concepts so that students actually LEARN. Instead of textbooks being filled with things to memorize, textbooks are now likely look different because they are trying to explain to students WHY math works the way it does. Some people are freaked out by this, but they should calm down and understand that the motivation for teaching differently comes from a good place. That being said, it will take a few iterations before textbooks finally figure to the best way to explain to students the WHY of mathematics. Give the educational community time to figure this out. In the meantime, our students will be fine…they will learn math better than in the past…and they will LOVE it.
To teach math better it will have to look different from the way way previously taught math.
What are your thoughts?