Pottsgrove's New Common Core Math Program:
What it Means for Students
Schools nationwide have adopted new standards for Math and English Language Arts curriculum to better align the nation's schools. The goal is to ensure that all students in all U.S. schools are learning the same things at the same time in effort to prepare students for college and careers.
The Pennsylvania Common Core Standards for Mathematics consist of the Content Standards that describe "what" students will learn at each grade level and the Standards for Practice that describes "how" students will learn mathematics. The Standards of Practice guide the way students will learn math and will focus on the following elements:
K to 12 Standards for Mathematical Practice
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Attend to precision.
Look for and make use of structure.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
In Pottsgrove, the new Common Core State Standards for Math mean deeper, more meaningful learning for our students.
How is this different from what students have done in the past? The new standards will ask students to think more conceptually, and to think deeper and even more thoroughly about what they're learning. The new standards go beyond basic memorization to help students truly understand what they are learning.
Previously, students might have been given a word problem that required them to memorize a formula to calculate something like "area." For example:
Mrs. Brown's class has a rabbit pen that is 6 feet long by 6 feet wide. How much room do the rabbits have to run around?
Under the new Common Core Standards, a word problem will more likely look like this:
Mrs. Brown's class has 24 feet of fencing to build a pen for rabbits. They want the rabbits to have as much room as possible. How long will each of the sides be?
The first problem simply requires a calculation: "Area" is defined by calculating length times width (for a rectangle or square.) In this case, simply multiply 6 x 6. The second problem requires the same calculation, but requires much more in depth thinking. What is some of the knowledge and what are some of the questions that students need to know and answer to solve the problem?
What "perimeter" means (how many sides/combinations should they examine - should the pen be a rectangle, an oval, etc. and which would give the rabbits the most space)
How do you calculate the area of various shapes?
In order to solve this problem, the student may have to experiment with several formulas and concepts. They have to work through the problem. This process is referred to in educational circles as "productive struggle" or "brain sweat." This is the process of taking prior knowledge and working through the problem individually and then in small groups, during which time a teacher circulates throughout the class to help guide thinking pathways and conversations.
The workforce demands that children go beyond rote memorization and be able to solve real world problems. The programs selected by Pottsgrove staff and administration are aligned to the Common Core Content and Practices, create a cohesive K to 12 math program, provide "productive struggle", and challenge students at higher levels while providing more intensive help for students who need more time to learn.