All across the internet, I see stories of people bashing common core – saying that the math is ridiculous and obtuse. I’m here to publicly declare my love for these new standards.
I heart Common Core.
Just the other night I ran across the following post on Facebook:
Source: Tickld Mobile
Frustrated Parent is right. If anyone used the above process in their job, they would get fired. Adults don’t use that method to subtract every day, so why should kids?
When I was a kid, I was good at math. I attribute it to having a very good memory. I could easily memorize exactly what procedures I needed to do and I did them. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even understand why I was doing something. In fact, my math teachers encouraged this lack of understanding. Does anyone else remember the rhyme for dividing fractions? “You don’t need… to ask why… just invert and multiply.”?
As a fifth grade teacher, I had so many students who came into my classroom and were completely lost when it came to math. They believed that they were horrible at math. They said it didn’t make sense. My students were right. The ways that we were teaching them did not make sense. Whenever they would come to any sort of problem solving, many would use operations without any reason for using them. When I asked a student to explain why she multiplied in a problem, the student told me “I saw two numbers and since we are studying multiplication, I multiplied.”
So now, lets talk about that subtraction problem, the method that Jack used to solve it and why it makes sense to a student just starting to learn about subtraction. However, I’m going to change the numbers. Right now, Frustrated Parent is right that putting the larger number on top and subtracting down is easier. Kids would grasp that very easily. Instead, let’s try the problem: Think about what you do and what you have to know to solve this problem. You would probably do something like this:
Suddenly, its not so simple. Here is where kids get confused. When they are told to “borrow” (preferably called “regroup” now because you aren’t “borrowing” anything) from the digit to the left, most have no clue what they are actually doing. Especially confusing, is how that “10” appears in the middle.
Don’t get me wrong. Students eventually learn how to do this and what regrouping means with Common Core. They just learn how to do it after they grasp the concept of large number subtraction using a method that makes more sense logically from a kid point of view. Watch as I solve this using the number line approach that “Jack” used above:
With this method, the child learns to subtract groups of 100 and groups of 10. It’s meant to work as a strategy, meaning that the student does not have to follow a list of steps to get the answer. They can use it flexibly while they are making sense of math and how our number system works. It is definitely different than how I was taught math and as a teacher it took a shift in thinking. Once I saw it in action though, I loved it.
My hope is that others will love it, too.
What are your thoughts? For or Against Common Core? Or Undecided?
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