By: Samantha Stainsburry
As the Common Core Standards get more and more attention, the Getting Smart staff knows there is a lot of speculation building around what that will mean for students. Here is a prediction from education writer Samantha Stainsburry on how the Common Core could change what is happening some classrooms.
Even outside of education circles, many people have heard of the Common Core State Standards for education. These standards represent a shift in philosophy towards higher standards for students. However, this shift in thinking brings a number of changes to the mathematics education that your child will receive. As a parent, it’s important that you understand these changes to help your child have the best success in her or his math education. Here are 6 major differences to be aware of.
Concepts Are Taught Earlier
In the past, many of the skills required of students were taught and memorized before the corresponding concepts behind the skills were introduced. So while children could understand how to do long division, they wouldn’t understand the mechanics behind the function that make long division work. This resulted in students floundering in upper level mathematics. Concepts like negative numbers are introduced under the common core as early as first grade giving students solid theoretical foundations upon which to build practical functions.
Traditional Methods Are Taught Later
Under the new framework, traditional methods for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are delayed. This is to allow students ample opportunity to build understanding. For example, mastery of long division is not expected until 6th grade while the principles underlying division are explained much earlier.
Homework Will Change Format
Since the emphasis is no longer on repetition to mastery for traditional algorithms to solve problems, homework will involve exploration and description. As a result, it can be frustrating for parents who are used to working out rows of problems with their children as these sorts of assignments will not typically be given under the common core system. This will also require investments by districts into common core training for teachers. Parents will need to work closely with these trained teachers to know how to best help their children with assignments.
Higher Level Math Comes Earlier
Due to the push for higher level math access, the typical sequence of math for K – 12th grade will look different than before. Students will experience Algebra and Calculus sooner in their career. For parents, utilizing online supplementation opportunities is a good idea to help you keep up with the new approaches. USU Online, for example, offers a variety of online mathematics courses that can keep you updated in your math skills so you can help your kids.
Students Will Talk More in Math
In the past, math class looked a lot like independent practice sessions. The topic was introduced, supported and then practiced at great length. Under the new framework, students will be required to engage with each other in debate and discussion to a much higher level than before. The intent is to help children engage with math on a variety of levels and grow to understand the reasoning behind it better.
Students Will Understand Math Better
The reason for all of these changes is that many students were failing upper level mathematics. Hopefully, this shift in focus from memorization and repetition will help alleviate that trend. By supporting a student in her or his conceptual understanding of important mathematical concepts at an early age, you will help him or her to be much more likely to experience success in math as adults.
The Common Core math requirements are certainly a shift from most traditional math education. As a parent, you may feel confused at times by the things your child is learning. Just remember to be patient and proactive in your student’s education, and you will still be able to assist in his or her math learning. The end result of the new standards should be a higher quality math education for our students, and parent involvement is necessary to make that a reality.
Samantha Stainsburry is a freelance blogger from Charlottesville, VA. She’s a major history buff, and loves living in Thomas Jefferson’s hometown. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and finding new music among other things. Her personal ambition is beat to Ken Jennings’ Jeopardy record with her vast trivia knowledge. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or G+.