Common core math, yes or no?

posted 3 months ago in The Lounge
Post # 91
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29 posts
Newbee

I’m a teacher who has worked in many educational realms over 25+ years, and I have spent many hours diving into and exploring Common Core, both through instruction and curriculum development. CC does seem to lend itself way to the ways people innately learn — interesting article on that here: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/learning-beyond-the-curriculum/ — but i think the issue of its effectiveness comes down to whether the proper foundations are laid early enough in a learner’s experience for it to be impactful. In my experience, students (and humans) by and large tend to learn best via an inverted pyramid approach in which summary information is given first, followed by thoughtful, segmented, relevant instruction, practice, and opportunities for enrichment. From what I have seen, CC often lacks the foundational component and jumps straight to the “Let’s etch as many neural pathways at once as we can” stage, often resulting in cognitive overload and overwhelming students.

CC was rolled out in such a way that students at all grade levels were expected to adapt to it, regardless of the structure or effectiveness of their previous years of learning. We might see much different data as CC makes its way through a few full cycles, but as it stands now, the data we do have is still a bit too new to be a reliable means of determining if the approach will continue to gain strength over the long term. I could definitely be wrong about that — this is just my own hunch.

I have three kids at three very different grade levels who are expected to do CC math, and all three find it unnecessarily frustrating. They would much rather learn the basics first, then make their own determinations and experiment with their own methods once they have a firm grasp on those basics. All three prefer to be presented with foundational information first so they can then pull from their previous learning (as discussed in the article I linked) to make connections and associations; without that foundational information, it’s very difficult for them to make sense of what they’re being asked to do and explain. They also have huge issues with teachers “teaching to the test”; my middle child especially frequently expresses how much more he would enjoy his classes if his teachers weren’t continually expected to cover X amount of CC standards before standardized test time.

So yes, I think in theory, CC is powerful. In practice, it needs some more TLC to be truly effective. Simply my opinion and in no way meant to discredit anything anyone has said in this thread (I admit I haven’t read the entire thing) or to be a voice of dissent.

Post # 92
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2541 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

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bluedanube :  Great read. Thanks for sharing! Yes, many people mentioned implamentation a as a big barrier and roll out. Many districts did a quick shift and kids didn’t have a framework from which to build. Neuroplasticity hasn’t been discussed but that’s a helpful note!

Question: What foundational information would you kids like to be presented with? How does this impact pulling from previous learning? I think I’m trying to understand if they are asking to be reminded of a similar skill/problem or if they are asking for the method/shortcut first. 

Post # 93
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29 posts
Newbee

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somathemagical :  That is a great question, and it’s one I was actually asking myself as I was writing my novel here. Ha!

In my kids’ case, and in the case of many of the students I’ve worked with, they simply need to fall back to something familiar before they can charge full steam ahead with a new concept or skill. In some cases, that might be a specific method/approach, and in others, a similar concept that gives them just enough information to make those critical associations.

Either way, it’s a concept I noticed is strangely silent throughout the CC standards. The undercurrent of previous learning and making connections is there, but it’s almost like it’s just beneath the surface and not always readily accessible, especially when the teacher’s primary concern is hitting so many standards a unit or a semester. CC is wonderful for cross-curricular instruction, but I personally feel that, as it is currently implemented, it falls short in the previous learning/association sphere. I picture it as an estuary of sorts; if there is no “mouth” for all those newly-etched neural pathways to feed into, it’s going to be difficult for a learner to be able to determine a viable direction, especially when a concept is new or otherwise unfamiliar.

I sure hope that made sense. LOL!

  • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  bluedanube. Reason: Spelling and grammar errors
Post # 94
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2541 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

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bluedanube :  yes! It did. There are sooooo many standards and add in the CRAZY amount of testing… teachers don’t have time or training on activating that prior knowledge. They try to rush through time “teach the standards” for the test. That’s literally the exact opposite of the point. But of course many in charge still want high stakes standardized testing involved so it gets so muddy. 

I love the standards and the practices without the new tests/pressure of PARCC etc. on top of SAT and the like. 

Post # 95
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29 posts
Newbee

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somathemagical :  Yes! I 100% agree. Let’s nurture CC for what it is and start to peel away the bureaucratic red tape that keeps teachers bound to the specific standards. Most teachers I know are going to be far more creative, innovative, and energized if they can simply focus on helping to develop their students into lifelong learners versus continually feeding the test monster. And if districts didn’t have to worry about critical funding being tied to test results, imagine what could be accomplished! I know we need checks and balances, but the ones we have now are doing students a major disservice, IMO.

Post # 96
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772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

As a Humanities educator who doesn’t use CC at the college level, I’m impressed by the thoughtful and learned responses of bluedanubesomathemagical, and 

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chelbell23. Keep the knowledge coming, ladies! 

Post # 97
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1739 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2019 - City, State

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emilyofnewmoon :  I’m so glad someone got something out of this! CC has problems, I’ll be one of the first to admit that, but it really doesn’t deserve the type of universal hate it gets. A lot of it is just fear of something new and having to change. We’ve got a long way to go to get CC to where it should be, but we definitely have come a long way from pure direct instruction and rote memorization.

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muppetbaby :  Getting nasty is exactly what she wants, so she can come back and accuse me of “being angry and trying to assert dominance.” Which she did anyway, but I’m glad that others have been able to confirm that my posts are not an attempt to assert my mathematical dominance over a true champion of education.

Post # 98
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1739 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2019 - City, State

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bluedanube :  Yes absolutely!

I think on top of teacher error, not all CC curriculum is created equal. (Is it weird to hava a favorite math curriculum? because I have a favorite math curriculum) Some just do a much better job of connecting all the dots and spiralling back and keeping continuity. But even my favorite curriculum is just…a LOT when you try to do it 100% by the book, and can be overwhelming for kids and teachers. Teachers need the knowledge and the permission to tweak the lessons and classroom assessments to fit their students’ needs. A lot of teachers lack one or the other, or both.

Post # 99
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29 posts
Newbee

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chelbell23 :  Yes, I absolutely agree. Teachers need the freedom within the curriculum to coach and guide students through the content, but speaking to the lack of knowledge and permission you mentioned, many find themselves constrained by administrative and testing requirements. What you said about connecting all the dots really resonated with me. There are absolutely ways teachers can facilitate those connections in the absence of a strong curriculum, but they often lack the time, resources, and support to be able to do that effectively and consistently. As coaches, teachers can help students to activate that crucial prior knowledge, regardless of the effectiveness of the existing curriculum. I make it sound like such a simple solution, and I know it’s much more complex, but I’d love a world where teachers are trusted to be the professionals they are. Students would absolutely thrive and teachers wouldn’t leave the profession in droves. Maybe I’m idealistic, but I truly believe it is possible. CC definitely plants the seed, but all too often, barriers raised by policies, regulations, and bureaucracy fail to water it.

All I truly know is how much I truly DON’T know. I appreciate the grace you are all extending me as I struggle to figure this all out myself! I really appreciate this thoughtful, insightful conversation and am learning so much from all of you!

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