Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Advocating for the Common Core

I support the Common Core. In 2010, when I was first introduced to the standards, the geek in me was excited about diving in, making sense of what they said, and creating learning opportunities for students. I embraced the change because the new standards are better than what we had.

Here's a comparison.

Previously, students were to use linear functions and now they are expected to create linear equations. The change in verbs is a critical transition from the old standards to the new standards. The expectation of what students are to know and be able to do increased. When I noticed this difference in the expectations I began to seek a better understanding of the standards and what I really needed to get my students to do.

In 2012, I became a math coach and a large part of my job is supporting teachers to implement the new standards. One standard in particular is
G-GPE.6 Find the point on a directed line segment between two given points that partitions the segment in a given ratio.

What? I didn't know how to do this much less teach students how to do this. Thus, I began my journey into learning about partitioning. Did you know that students in elementary grade partition? Yep - it's true.
  • 1st grade: Partition circles and rectangles into equal shares.
  • 2nd grade: Partition a rectangle into rows and columns of same size squares.
  • 2nd grade: Partition circles and rectangles into two, three, or four equal shares and describe the shares.
  • 3rd grade: Interpret whole-number quotients of whole numbers (56/8 is 56 objects partitioned into 8 equal shares)
  • 3rd grade: Understand a fraction 1/b as a quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts
  • 3rd grade: Represent a fraction 1/b on a number line diagram by defining the interval from 0 to 1 as the whole and partitioning it into b equal parts.
  • 3rd grade: Partition shapes into parts with equal areas.
  • 5th grade: Interpret the product (a/b) x q as a parts of partition of q into b equal parts.
Now, in high school Math 2, students must partition a directed line segment.

I looked for resources and found examples of how (procedural understanding). I found a few examples of why (conceptual understanding) but they came from the approach of vectors (not a prior understanding for Math 2 students). I didn't find anything that built upon the previous standards (coherence). So, what did I do? I wrote an investigation which can be found here

This is the stuff I love - learning, creating, making sense of the things. The new standards have challenged me to think and that is a good thing. The new standards have prompted me to learn about how students are thinking about and doing mathematics in grades K-8. The new standards have introduced me to new concepts.

I am an advocate for the CCSS because of what it offers teachers and students - a focused, coherent, and rigorous mathematics education.

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