If you are tuned in to the Common Core debate, you probably have seen the videos, tweets and blogs from anti-common core advocates, criticizing “new math” techniques or holding out examples of homework questions that appear too convoluted or complicated for the average 5th grader. Today, Patti Zarling’s Greenbay Press Gazette article,
“New Math” Is Really Just New Approach, provides a thoughtful look at what is actually behind Common Core’s “new math” standards and the need for parents to learn the thinking behind these unfamiliar homework assignments. Zarling writes:
As school districts adopt curriculum and create lesson plans to meet Common Core State Standards, educators are moving beyond the strict memorization of multiplication and addition tables to ways aimed at helping students conceptualize math problems and how to adopt them to real-life situations.
Shifting to a more personalized way to support individual learners, Common Core inspires teachers to move away from “flashcards to help improve memory” to methods that really engage students to take the lead, Zarling explains. It’s hard to break away from what we all remember from our own elementary lessons, but this is the type of learning that we need and expect from our schools — instruction that supports individualization and materials that encourage higher-order thinking skills and problem solving. If it’s a choice, I am more than happy to throw away my flashcards.
Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post. Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to ...