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Dutchess_III's avatar

What, exactly, are they trying to teach with common core math, and is it necessary?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42268points) December 9th, 2018

I’m finding myself in a unique position of trying to figure out what exactly the lessons want from the students, while simultaneously trying to teach it. By the time I figure it out, we’re on to a different subject.
I can see the concept…finding answers to math problems in different ways. It’s also getting a jump on Algebra, and I guess it’s fine, but is it really necessary? The kids who got it the other way get this new way just fine. The kids who didn’t get it the other way still don’t get it this way, and it makes it very difficult for parents to help with homework to boot.

What are your thoughts on it?

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43 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

The majority of us are probably too far removed to know about common core math.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, I guess so. Well, for one they have them factoring simple multiplication problems out. This is elementary school.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have not worked with common core math, but I read that it is intended to get students to understand the reasoning behind problem solution and not rote memorization.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And I can see that when I work the problems the way they want.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The “Why?” and “How?” Math works the way it does is behind common core . Explanation from US Chamberof Commerce three minute video.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you think it works in practice @Tropical_Willie? From what I see, the kids that “got” math before, “get” common core math now. The kids that didn’t get it before, don’t get it now.
I know that parents are extremely frustrated with it. They WANT to help their kids, but they don’t know how.

Is it really worth it, in your opinion?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I have been a math whiz since I was 10 when I corrected math quizzes for my aunt that taught college algebra for a penny a quiz (got to choose the pennies out of her penny jar, they included 1943 steel and Indian heads).

LostInParadise's avatar

Not to get too off subject, but after watching @Tropical_Willie‘s video, I was thinking that one way to teach subtraction would be to show how a salesperson could give correct change for a purchase without having the register do it. Even young children have had some exposure to money, so it is more concrete than working with numbers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve always been good in math too, but I’m concerned with kids who aren’t good in math. Do you think it’s helping those kids? Especially when you get such resistance from the parents?

@LostInParadise I love change-making lessons! Kids also learn to tell time on an analog clock, so there are many different mathematical applications through out the day. I’m asking specifically about the pencil and paper math. Is common core actually better than the old way?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Dutchess_III resisting Math by the parents is the kid’s blockage to learning Math. Parents maybe not be “average” in Math to start with so helping at home would be an issue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But the parents do want to help. They understand elementary math the way they learned it. They just do not understand the modern math problems or how to solve them. That isn’t their fault.
I told one parent, who was almost in tears, to have her son explain it to her first, and work backwards. That’s what I have to do when I’m trying to teach it. Get some brainiac up with me to teach it to me first. Really quickly!

JLeslie's avatar

Very interesting that the kids who understood math already can do the common core, and the kids who already had trouble have trouble with common core. I had never thought to ask that question, and I think it’s an important observation.

Nothing wrong with knowing how to approach a math problem more than one way, but I do hear a lot of parents frustrated with not being able to help their children with math. They say they wish the schools would give classes for the parents.

What I feel strongly about is at very very young ages, so k,1,2,3 I’m not very keen on word problems, or trying to incorporate more reading into math. Children lagging behind in reading comprehension can’t do math or reading if you make all math a word problem. Then the poor kids suck at everything! Let them be good at a subject. Reading is important, but some kids struggle with it, but are very smart kids.

I guess it would be worthwhile to see if children are doing better in math overall since we introduced common core. Another question I have is if the countries that excel in math teach math similar to common core, or do they use another program?

I was a math kid, and I didn’t always understand the math I was going, I just learned how to do it. Later the puzzle staretdd to fit together regarding the math and what the calculations really were.

A lot of math in the beginning can be done with memorization. Order of operations, times tables, how to carry a number. It’s formulas and practice. You don’t have to understand who subtracting a negative is a positive, you just need to know it is. I think kids get frustrated sometimes, because they are trying to understand rather than just accepting the rule. Sure, you need to understand some of it, but some math you can just do it. Or, I could anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Some kids get math, some kids get reading, some kids get art. It doesn’t matter what form it’s in. If they get it, they get it.

Math today is not the way you learned math @JLeslie. Just coming up with the right answer to 9 + 5 isn’t enough.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Even when I was a kid we had to show our work once we got into algebra, but I don’t even comprehend what they want the kid to do to show 9+5? Why isn’t 14 good enough? What do they have to do now for 9+5?

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s my point @JLeslie. it is not the way you learned it so your expounding upon it all was completely off the subject. It’s about common core math. This.

YARNLADY's avatar

My main issue with it is moving too fast. The lessons try to cram way too much information in all at once.

The charter school we receive our lessons from uses Go Math, which has all the information in short videos online. We can take as long as we need to understand it.

I agree with your assessment that learners either get it, or they don’t. However, when given lessons in small doses, and not moving on until they do understand it, even non-math people can learn.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I see your point, as a home school teacher @YARNLADY.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I think the pace is really important too.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Dutchess_III Good sample (above). Another sample would be the one that says lay out nine counting blocks, now lay out five counting blocks. now count all the blocks. How many are there?. Believe it or not, this a fourth grade lesson.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I did that in third grade I think.

Edit: wait, are you talking about addition? I did that in 1st grade. I was doing multiplication in 3rd grade.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Sounds more like a 1st or 2nd grade lesson @YARNLADY. It’s sure something I’d teach my 4 and 5 year olds at home.
I’m not sure that common core is succeding in its goal.

YARNLADY's avatar

The lesson is actually about one method you can use to find your answer.

It goes on to say lets start out with an easier way, called association. You know 10 plus 5 is 15, so take one from 10 and your answer is 14, or, (10 -1) plus 5 equals 14. So, 9 + 5= 14.

On the lesson review (we don’t call it a “test” any more) it asks, what does association mean and how does it work.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Was the original problem 9 + 5? I assume it was but it didn’t specify up front.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Cool. I developed my own math tricks that worked for me. That was one of them….work in multiples of 5 and 10 and anything ending in a 0 and the smaller increments are much easier to figure.
It’s a good idea, to try and teach all the kids what the kids who “just get it” do mentally.

Soubresaut's avatar

The specific work page you posted, @Dutchess_lll, is a way that a teacher is trying to help students develop number sense. I’ve seen number bonds used briefly (I didn’t like the way I happened to see them being used, it seemed to over complicate and not make the concepts clearer, but the number bond itself just a strategy to represent numbers). The idea in that worksheet you linked is to have students recognize a friendly number (ten) in the addition problems. You can know 8 + 7 = 15, and you can also know/see that 7 = 2 + 5, and 8 + 2 = 10 + 5 = 15. (This is the concept students are supposed to represent with the number bond).

The goal, from what I understand, is to have students see more relationships between numbers than just the one traditionally memorized fact. I think the idea is that this should allow them to work with the numbers more flexibly, fluently, and even creatively later on when the math gets more complicated. It also means that if a student forgets a memorized fact, they have more strategies for remembering/deriving that fact from other things they know, because their mathematical knowledge connected.

In common core, they really don’t just want the kid to know “9 + 5 = 14.” They want the kid to have a sense of what that means, what values those numbers are representing, how the numbers relate to each other.

I would add that Common Core isn’t a way of teaching math. It’s a set of mathematics standards describing the concepts students should know to be “mathematically proficient.” There are specific standards for each grade level, all of which are based on key Mathematics Practices that are grounded in educational research. There are certainly programs/methods/etc. that are “common core-aligned,” and teachers/schools/districts may implement those programs or methods as part of their curriculum, but that’s not Common Core itself.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

So do you think it’s a good thing @Soubresaut? Is it going to work like they theorize?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Remember @Dutchess_lll / @Dutchess_lll The USA is not the leader in Mathematics in the WORLD anymore (not because of common core but because they stopped Math because it was “Too hard ! !”).
Kids today in the USA are way and mean WAAAY behind the rest of the world.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Wait…what? What do you mean they “stopped math” @Tropical_Willie?
I agree we are behind in many ways but can you explain the “stopped math” thing?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

BOHICA (Bend Over and Here It Comes Again) https://www.businessinsider.com/the-10-smartest-countries-based-on-math-and-science-2015-5 !

The USA are in the top third (FAKE NEWS per the dictator in charge). We are not a top Math Science and Technology country.
We are consumers that are not innovators or leaders !

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I read that the other day, actually. That doesn’t answer my question. What do you mean ”...because they stopped Math because it was “Too hard ! !”....

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Dutchess_lll / @Dutchess_III The entire Math and Science process for dumber people, not world leaders therefore the current score. The current President is a firm believer in buy it (because I has da money) !
You don’t have to be a world leader just show up with money (and have Putin’s approval).

Soubresaut's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think having rigorous national educational standards that every state should at least meet, if not exceed, is a generally good idea. I also think the CC standards are well-sourced, and emphasize student comprehension more than many previous state standards. They also provide teachers more flexibility than many previous state standards. I think they’re well-designed goal posts for student learning, but they can’t work on their own. It’s up to teachers (and communities) to get students to that level of understanding.

JLeslie's avatar

@Soubresaut Generally, I am in favor of national standards, but where I get conflicted is when children are pushed along and really should stay longer at a lower level.

An example I can give you is a friend of mine after many years in the corporate world was laid off and decided to try teaching. She was hired as a 7th grade math teacher. In that school, a large public school in NC, all 7th graders took the same math. That is outrageous to me. She said it was awful. A significant percentage of the kids were below level, and of course for some kids it was too easy, and moved too slowly. If I can focus on the kids who were struggling, I would rather them be in a 5th grade level than barely pass with a D and never ever have a chance of ever liking or being able to catch up. I’d rather see a kid graduate with basic algebra and geometry understanding than worry whether he is moving along fast enough to be able to get through algebra two, forget trig or calculus.

I’m not sure how the two things get accommodated. I want the standard high, and I want the AL kid to receive the same educational opportunity as the WI kid, but I want the kids who struggle to not drop out or hate school so much it’s torture and kills their self esteem.

China takes the view that all children should be on level. If they are struggling they have to work harder. Finland views school in a much more liberal way. They start school at an older age, less homework, more Montessori oriented with more freedom. Both countries rank very high in education with completely different models.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@JLeslie Mediocrity is a not what we should be aiming for ! !

JLeslie's avatar

@Tropical_Willie It’s not what I’m aiming for. I just don’t want to have high drop out rates, and less learning in the end because we want more learning. It is ridiculous that a large high school in the United States with multiple math classes has only one level of math in the seventh grade.

I’m more worried about the kids that could excel in math being held back and bored at the seventh grade level than I am about the kid struggling with seventh grade math. Maybe the kid struggling is doing great in history or theatre or art or literature. Not every person needs to be great in math, everyone needs to be great in something. I’m not saying math doesn’t matter for that kid, I’m only saying I don’t feel everyone needs to be at the same level in every subject, but I do believe in minimal levels and I do believe in standards set forth with the expectation that it be what students should be striving for.

Are you saying the kids struggling in 7th grade math should be getting more attention to get the to grade level? How are you going to solve that particular problem?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@JLeslie Why aren’t Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Northern Ireland, Russia, Norway, Ireland and England kids struggling? ? These are the top ten countries for Math as of 2016.
In my seventh grade we had more then one Math level that was 60 years ago, remember Sputnik?

JLeslie's avatar

I had more than one math class in my seventh grade also. I actually was in Unified Math in seventh, which was a new program for children who were ahead in math.

In fact, when I hear that the US school system hadn’t kept up with the times, I actually wonder if we have gone backwards? That some of the old ways weren’t so terrible. Mostly, I think a lot of it has to do with what state you live in, and the particular school district, which is why I’m in favor of national standards, I just have my reservations about the national direction of how they are teaching math to very young children as I mentioned above.

To fit my stereotype, the school with only one math level was in NC, the South. The South historically doesn’t have great education scores, but of course there are pockets within the South that do. I don’t know what states score best in recent years.

I’ve read that if you take out a certain group from US math score stats our numbers are good. I just don’t remember which group? If it was income, or new immigrants or what? I’ll try to look for that.

We certainly should look at what other countries are doing and test it here. One state could do one program, another state another. I believe that testing different math programs can still be done at the national level using cooperating states. No matter how it’s taught, there would still be markers, basic levels of knowledge by certain grades that we can test for whether one state is teaching it differently or not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m going to ask a question about that @Tropical_Willie. It’s not just math that we’re abysmally behind the rest of the world in .
And that’s just the academics. We’re behind in the health care and every other freaking thing. What is wrong with us?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Tropical_Willie One reason other countries show better is they only allow good students to stay in school. Others are apprenticed out to trade schools, which we used to do when I was in school. Another reason is teachers are trained better and paid more.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@YARNLADY I like your second reason, yes other countries are trying to educate the youth.

The PISA score is for all 15 year olds; I don’t know/think they stop testing because the trade school kids are on a different track.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Slightly off topic, in my 5th grade classes, Einstein and E=MC2 was brought up. Just running with it, I wrote E=MC2 all the way out on the board. THEN it turned in to a challenge to solve C^2. Long hand. On paper with a pencil, showing your work, or, if you were one of the lucky ones, on the board.
It was pretty enlightening for the kids. There were several different methods being used. One kid, on the board, was using a matrix. Another appeared to be trying to “factor out” the numbers, I think it was common core.
But the vast majority were doing it the “old fashioned” way, by borrowing and stuff.
Out of 2 different classes, 3 of the kids actually solved it! It was much, much harder than they expected it to be, and they loved it.

Please don’t tell me nothing can go faster than the speed of light. I know this. I told the kids this. But it had nothing to do with the exercise. It was a SS class, not a math or science class.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

@Soubresaut I agree with rigorous National Standards. But everyone has to be on the same page to succeed. In Japan the parents are at least as strict in their expectations as the student’s teachers. They back the teacher’s play like they did when I was in school. Today, in America, all you hear are parents blaming the school system, blaming rhe teachers, but not getting involved themselves.
Also, Japan has a thousands years long cultural expectation of unquestioning obedience to whomever is in authority.

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