"Let's go over our math learning target for today," said Christina Spontaneo, Love Elementary School teacher, to her fourth-grade class. "Say it with me - I can determine that a digit represents 10 times what it would be in the place-value to its right." The class continues in unison: "Our fluency target is, 'I can multiply and divide by 10.'"
After repeating the learning targets, Spontaneo directed students to prepare for their math "sprints" to help build math fluency, or speed and accuracy. Students multiplied and divided by 10 during 60-second sprints. Each worksheet had a side A and B with the student's goal to improve between the two sides.
Spontaneo's class completed the math sprints as part of the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) math curriculum to help build students' speed and accuracy by practicing their math facts. Math sprints are one new way teachers will help students with the increased rigor of the math curriculum.
Love Elementary School fourth-graders Malachi Biles, Catie Tompkins and Kyneilis Fernandez sing a “skip counting” song during Christina Spontaneo’s class as an activity between math sprints. The singing builds excitement while practicing appropriate math skills. By moving, dancing and singing the practice helps retain what they are learning in the classroom into their long term memory.
To improve student learning, the math CCLS are different from prior learning standards. According to EngageNY.com there are five changes, or shifts, that parents need to know about:
Your child will work more deeply, or focus, on fewer topics. CCLS says it's OK, for example, to wait to learn about fractions until third and fourth grade instead of introducing them earlier because students can spend more time focusing and understanding addition and subtraction in first and second grade. By focusing on the basics, they can better understand fractions when they get to them in third and fourth grades.
Your child will keep building on learning year after year. In the past, students have always continued to learn topics, but now it is more intentional. For example, in second grade students would learn double-digit addition and triple-digit addition and review it in third grade. Now, they learn double-digit addition really well in second grade and then triple-digit in third grade. The strong foundation of addition in second grade makes third grade concepts easier.
Your child will spend more time practicing and memorizing math facts. Math sprints are an example of this change. But parents will also see math homework worksheets and should look for assignments that build on each other. Parents can help by being aware of concepts your child struggles with and help them move forward.
Your child will understand why the math works and be asked to talk about and prove their understanding. You will hear more math vocabulary, especially the "unit" of the value. There will be talk of "3"10s versus 30. Identifying the unit helps build the number sense that students need in more complex math.
Your child will be asked to use math in real-world situations. For example, students will be asked to find the number of feet of fencing they need to fence in the backyard. They are using perimeter, but the word is never stated in the problem. Help them by giving everyday activities like baking cookies a math slant. Ask them to figure out the recipe and explain how they got the answer.
"It is important for parents to be patient with teachers and their children. The CCLS will build a strong foundation based on 'why' math works. Students may not initially do math problems how you remember doing them in school, but they eventually will. CCLS requires that students better understand the 'why' and 'how.' To be able to do that, students need a lot of math background information. It is important that they can apply what they are learning in math to problem-solving strategies across any subject area," said Denise Pusateri, JPS math coordinator. "It allows students to become college and career-ready, which is the goal of the CCLS."