Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Common Core Math Bashing

I do a very poor job of staying informed about current events.  I'm typically unplugged and clueless, but even I have noticed the bad rap Common Core Math is receiving these days.  The bashing I've seen on Facebook actually hurts my heart.  It feels personal, as if my own philosophy of teaching is under investigation.

Some very hurtful things are being said about math instruction, and the tone is an angry one.  I know it's because society wants the best for this young generation of mathematicians, and that desire brings out the passion.  I'm passionate about my mathematicians too, but I believe the changes I've been making to my math instruction, which actually began before I was even aware of CCSS, are not only beneficial but essential. 

The people, in essence, who are questioning what I'm doing to my mathematicians, grew up on a different method of math, as did I.  They simply don't understand yet.  They're coming from a place of ignorance, and the educational system is asking them to make a rather uncomfortable paradigm shift.  I believe we teachers have a responsibility to educate the public.  We can't leave it to the media or social networks.  I can't reach everyone.  My sphere of influence is a small one, but if we all educate our parents, we'll make a significant impact on our most important clientele. 

When I first began making significant mathematical shifts, I created a math wiki for parents.  I shared weekly pictures of math strategies that my students were creating, and I explained the strategies as well.  Last year, I stopped using the wiki, created a class website, and designed a page on my site specifically for the same purpose which I've continued using this year.  


Here is one example from my site.  If you're interested in more, click on the picture to visit my math page.  



I'm not insinuating that all of our Common Core Math issues can be solved by something so simple, but I do believe it's a step in the right direction.  I want parents to see that my students and I are not at the mercies of CCSS, being forced to submit to practices I don't believe in because a curriculum or test says so.  I want them to see that I'm willingly making shifts in the way I teach because I believe my mathematicians will be better off because of it.  If I don't repeatedly share this message with real live examples of student work, who will?  







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20 comments:

  1. This also turns Common Core from being a scapegoat to something *real* and complicated. Good for you!

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    1. SiouxGeonz, thank you for doing the conversation.

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  2. I've felt that same personal attack even though I know people don't mean it to seem like that. CCSS have brought changes to my teaching that I love and firmly believe are going to be better for my students. Thanks for posting about this and for sharing your math site.
    Chrissy
    First Grade Found Me

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    1. Chrissy, it's been such a great movement. I'm very thankful too.

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  3. This is a tough one for me, as my district has told us to follow a certain curriculum 'with fidelity.' I have frustrations with it, and so do parents. I think it's hard for them to separate the two.

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    1. Sara, your situation does sound tough. I'm so very sorry.

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  4. We need brave teachers like you to help us all understand what's really going on with changes in teaching. Bravo, my dear.

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    1. Laur, thank you for thinking I'm brave. :)

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. I am not a teacher, just a parent of a first grader. You are right in that I come from a different kind of math and I, honestly, view myself as being horrible at math, old or new. I get frustrated with it. I don't understand why you have to draw circles or pictures to be taught math. And why does she have to come up with a sentence to add 2+2??? The homework packets that come home are sometimes overwhelming for a person that isn't used to that kind of method. I feel like, since I don't understand it, how can I help her with it? Then will the way I explain it to her cause her to become confused? That's why I read teaching blogs to see if I can get even a smidgen of instruction on how to help her. It's a constant inner battle, am I doing more harm than good and then I get frustrated at CC. I have been against it for about a year now. I feel that more of the teacher's time is spent "teaching to the test" and you all seem to be evaluated on what kids do on these tests instead of what they actually learn in your class. I want my child to have teachers that she can look back one day and know that they loved teaching her. I'm rambling, I know. I had wondered what teachers thought about the new standards and, from anti-CC groups, you're told that teachers can't be honest about it all. So to read this does make me feel slightly better about it and I thank you for that. But I still don't understand what drawing circles has to do with learning math. LOL

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    1. April, thank you for joining the conversation. I'm not an advocate of "packets" and homework for little people in general. Also I can only speak for myself but my time is spent growing mathematicians who understand what they're doing and can talk about it too. I'm sorry that you have the sense that teachers are teaching to the test. That's not cool, and I don't believe that's at the heart of CC. I'm sorry that this whole new way of thinking is frustrating. I hope you can find some answers that help you and your young mathematician feel successful.

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  6. Tammy,

    Hooray Hooray for your blog post today! I believe the same way you do too! I reflect on the math I learned as a child and it had NO MEANING! Now we want students to be able to explain their thinking behind the work they are doing. In my state we have a lot of parents who put their child in Russian Math...it's the drill method of math!!! I think my own children are very lucky to be learning math with meaning and using tools that help them think deeply about numbers. Melissa

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    1. Melissa, yes I love the math conversations that brings deeper meaning!

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  7. I have never been confident in math. But bc of CC and the way the standards are written And the focus I have put into learning more...I am a much stronger confident math teacher. I am so thankful for my mind shift.

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    1. Em, I totally agree. We're learning how to be better math teachers. It's all good.

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  8. Great post Tammy. Since I'm a Canadian teacher I didn't realize the CC was under attack. That's really too bad! Luckily our BC math curriculum is strong on "making meaning".

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    1. Barb, you are fortunate that meaning is your foundation instead of memorization. :)

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  9. Wonderful post! I think you are right that it can be confusing to parents, but I think students will come out of this with a deeper understanding of math concepts and not just memorization of facts and formulas.
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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    1. Lori, I really do think they're going to understand what they're doing. Parents mean well. I'm hoping we can help them out.

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