This is the second installment in the series, What are we doing to ourselves?
Over the past several weeks parents, college educated parents, exasperated college educated parents, angry and exasperated college educated parents, have been asking, “What is common core?” and “Why am I unable to help my second grader with her math homework?”
The exasperation is the result of not understanding and therefore not being able to help their second grader with her homework. The anger comes after the parents talk to their child’s teacher and she can’t explain the second grade homework either.
Teachers are saying, “It’s this common core stuff! It doesn’t make sense, but that is how we are supposed to be teaching. I don’t get it either.”
I have a few suggestions, some do’s and don’t, for teachers about teaching and explaining the common core math standards to parents.
Do explain that the overarching goal of common core math standards is to get students to apply math skills and concepts to a variety of situations. In order to achieve this goal, students need to not only know procedures to solve problems, but they must have a deeper knowledge about how to choose the proper procedure at the right time. And in addition to the students being able to apply their skills and knowledge, the students should be able to explain, both orally and in writing, how the students solved the problems.
Isn’t that what a parent wants when it comes to the education of his children? For the child to be able to solve problems, apply what they have learned, and to be able to explain how they got an answer and why it is correct?
Do explain that part of the reason that common core standards were developed is that one or more generations of students learned shortcuts for solving problems but never really understood what they doing or why the shortcuts worked. The result of that are literally generations that do not feel competent in math and believe it is okay to say, “I’m just not good at math.”
Don’t blame the standards. It is not the fault of the standards, but it may be how the publishers are interpreting the standards.
Don’t blame the book. You are the boss of the book. Learn how to make choices about what parts of the book to use for your teaching and student learning that are in alignment with the standards.
Don’t teach lessons that you do not understand. The purpose of common core standards is to deepen mathematical knowledge, not to confuse.
If you are feeling frustrated because you do not feel your training has properly prepared you to teach common core standards, feel free to contact TESS Consulting Group. We will support you to successfully teach common core standards.