Common Core Math Problem Solving

Second, publishers should emulate the clarity and precision of Singapore Math rather than reinventing the wheel and coming up with one that doesn’t roll straight.

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Here’s a puzzler: Why are the Common Core math standards accused of fostering “fuzzy math” when their drafters and admirers insist that they emphasize basic math, reward precision, and demand fluency?

Why are CC-aligned curricula causing confusion and frustration among parents, teachers, and students?

Third, Common Core supporters need to understand that even as opponents eagerly pounce on any mistake that anybody makes in the name of the Common Core, that doesn’t mean that we deny or ignore such failures.

Failure is an important part of innovation and a necessary step in the quest for excellence.

Here’s another example drawn from Singapore Math, in which a drawing is used to help pupils make sense of an elementary subtraction problem: ?

– 7 = 5 In this problem, students are encouraged to draw the whole—which is unknown—and to show what they know. In this case, the drawing is used as a tool to better understand what the problem is asking.

Note, too, that the Singapore problems—typical of what I’ve seen in Singapore Math—are text-lite.

The emphasis is on numbers, manipulating numbers, and problem solving.

In grade 4, students should “fluently add and subtract multidigit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.” By grade 5, they are expected to multiply whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

And by grade 6, they are expected to divide whole numbers and to add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals, again using standard algorithms.


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