So What are the Advantages of Common Core Standards Anyway?
To start with, teachers working with common core have to ask themselves a very hard question: “What should students be able to do with the knowledge they’ve gained from this whole school thing?”
Students need to be problem solvers in their own lives. It’s great if they can understand the problems they work through in my class, but can they apply that knowledge outside of the classroom?
Students need the ability to break large problems down into smaller issues, because if they can persevere in the classroom, they will be much more likely to persevere through difficult problems in their lives.
My students frequently ask me the famous question, “When am I ever going to use this?”
And though it’s true they could be very successful life without ever simplifying trig identities or understanding logarithms, I often point out that successful people simplify problems rather than giving up on them.
This makes sense to them and me. But I’d rather present math in such an engaging way that this question doesn’t get asked.
Many sample Common Core problems deal with problem-solving that involves money and economics, which helps students feel like their work is relevant. And just like real world problems, the Common Core questions are not all presented the same way.
Setting up a Math Curriculum
Keep in mind that less is more—especially at the elementary grade level. The focus should be on multiple representations and deep understanding of concepts. It really makes me happy that Common Core requires fluency in bedrock math skills like multiplication, but also requires that students understand how these skills can be represented in many different ways outside of school.
If you are just getting started with the Common Core implementation process, the following Learning Playlist is a good way to start. It begins broadly with the official Common Core State Standards website and gets more detailed as it goes, finally finishing with two teacher-created examples.
Jeanette created algebra1teachers.com to help teachers understand and implement the Common Core into their algebra 1 classes.