When I think of Common Core math,
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a teammate during planning. Our school
system had just begun the transition to Common Core, using Scott Foresman’s
“Investigations” series as a core curriculum. We were knee deep in base-ten
blocks, number lines and hundreds boards. She said –
and agreed – these “new” ways of solving problems were taking too long, and
kids just didn’t “get” it. More accurately – I didn’t “get” it.
fourth grade. A lot of us were even throwing out those number lines and teaching kids the
It took a while to convince me, but I now strongly believe we shouldn’t be throwing out the “new” ways of solving problems, just because they’re time-consuming – there are actually some really important
reasons why all these crazy strategies help kids in the long run. I
We used to teach kids directly. We said, “These are the steps. Follow
them and you will get the right answer.”
Just like we know that some kids
are stronger auditory or visual learners, and most are kinesthetic – kids don’t
all solve math problems the same way. They need a variety of different
strategies that they “get” without having to memorize a series of steps. Check out some of those options (there are SO many more than just the good ‘ole number line).
Of course, we’re living in the digital age. While we practice and practice so that we can use mental math and solve problems flexibly and accurately, it’s much more likely that our students will walk up to the cashier with the memory of their elementary teachers’ words in their heads and …
About the Author
Ms. BBZ is currently teaching second grade in Georgia, after teaching a Gifted and Talented immersion class at a Title I magnet school in North Carolina for several years. Her passions are conceptual math, integrated learning, and character education for students. You can find her online at her blog as well as her Teachers Pay Teachers Store.