How To Help Students Meet the Common Core Standards for Math
By Cameron Pipkin
Many of you are probably familiar with the work of Leslie Texas and Tammy Jones, authors of the series Strategies for Common Core Mathematics: Implementing the Standards for Mathematical Practice. This series is widely used and I’ve heard high praise from educators who’ve applied it to help their students meet the Common Core Standards for math.
The books span work across every grade, but I found a simple infographic that sums up and maps out many of the instructional shifts highlighted by Texas and Jones. The infographic is adapted directly from the guidebooks and can be found on Routledge’s website (I’ll provide a link to the complete infographic below).
The main purpose of this infographic is to provide a quick, at-a-glance map of the general concepts in the Common Core math standards across grades K-12, and it does a great job. Here’s one other thing that stands out to me:
The emphasis on math strategies! As a person who knows more about the intricacies of Common Core policy than he does about the development of each math standard, the first module in the map jumps out to me because it addresses one of the most the controversial aspects of the Common Core—problem-solving strategies in elementary math. I’ve actually posted on this before, but some parents are upset their children are bringing home math work that they themselves struggle to understand. For example:
This parent’s frustration is understandable, but could easily be resolved if they learned the simple—albeit more involved—math strategy at play here. I’ve learned it and I nearly failed math my senior year of high school.
The problem is that schools have done a poor job of communicating the purpose of these strategies, and explaining that one of the central purposes of the Common Core is to help students develop efficient strategies for understanding and solving problems. Until the Common Core arrived, the “strategies” implemented in math class were efficient in that they produced correct answers quickly (as the “Frustrated Parent” highlights above), but did little to add to students’ understanding of the principles of math or problem solving.
The Common Core, by contrast, relies on problem-solving strategies that help students grasp underlying math principles as they develop efficient strategies that can be applied to both simple and complex math, and shows teachers how to help students meet the Common Core Standards for math. The first module in the infographic presents this concept very clearly when it says that, “Elementary students should begin to understand the need for efficient strategies, and they see how problem solving makes use of the structures of mathematics,” and then sets that statement within the context of middle school and high school math problem solving, with an emphasis on analysis and where to “enter” the problem. These concepts would be difficult to understand using the more traditional methods of math problem solving that most of us learned in elementary school.
To see the complete infographic follow this link, Common Core Math Infographic.
- Help Students Meet the Common Core Standards for Math