Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

View From the 5th Grade Trenches: Common Core Standards #3 - Break it Down - Math

The Common Core State Standards for math are sliced into two distinct halves: 
Mathematical Practices and Content Standards

Together they offer:
Explicit instruction on grade level concepts
Linking/extending previous learning and new information
Conceptual understanding/procedural skill/application

This is the kingdom of problem solving techniques. The practices are consistent across grade levels. The italics are my "translations."

Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
 Stick it out through all the steps in a mathematically sound way.

Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Use number sense, picture sense, charts and graphs.

Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Explain WHY and HOW you or someone else came to an answer.

Model with mathematics.
Equations, expressions, proofs  

Use appropriate tools strategically

Attend to precision.
Don't panic - be systematic

Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Patterns/Connections

Here are the strands for fifth grade. Strands may vary at different grade levels, especially in the early grades or when you cross over into middle school and beyond. 

This is where I am doing the happy dance. Have you ever tried to teach a ten-year-old to calculate the surface area of a rectangular solid with fractions and decimals, or to subtract negative integers in several permutations? It's no picnic. With Common Core the shift in concepts (pushing more difficult ones to older grades) is more in line with my students' developmental abilities. 

Operations and Algebraic Thinking - OA
Expressions, Equations, Prime Factorization, Order of Operations, Input/Output Boxes

Number and Operations in Base Ten - NBT
Whole number and decimal operations, Place Values

Number and Operations - Fractions - NF
Fractions and Mixed Numbers

Measurement and Data - MD
Charts and Graphs, Volume

Geometry - G
Two dimensional figures, The Coordinate Plane

Freak Out Alert - 
Many of my colleagues in the primary grades are concerned about the heightened expectations, especially in problem solving for the younger kiddos. 

Double Freak Out Alert - 
During the transition to Common Core, we teachers have to figure out where to fill gaps that may occur between grade levels to make sure students are ready to tackle certain concepts. 

Yes, it is going to be boatloads of additional work for we underpaid and overworked educators as we transition to Common Core. 

Is it worth it?
I think so.

This link chats about the technology tie in to Common Core. Scroll down to Page 2 for the quick list. Digital Literacy

This week's video is a speedy fly-by of Mathematical Practices.

Keep those questions coming. Have a great week.


  1. I'm seriously loving your attitude about this! I don't doubt it'll be a lot of extra work, but I definitely think it'll be worth it :)

  2. My head hurts just thinking about how you guys are transitioning this. But I'm confident it'll get figured out and implemented well.

  3. Oh my God Leslie Rose! I am studying for the GRE and I think the math is from 5th grade! Because I can't do it! Why does that wording all make it sound so hard? And Common Core should come with a pay raise!

  4. We have begun teaching to the Common Core this year and so far one of the hardest parts has been the background knowledge of students and what we need to fill in with the increased expectations. Plus, we are teaching units we have never covered before and lessons are not provided (just the 5 objectives for the unit). The students seem to be doing really well with working on problem solving and sticking with a problem no matter how long it takes! I have seen them make so much progress this year in that area.

    Best of luck to you. If you ever want to exchange ideas- I am up for it. From one 5th grade teacher to another. :)

  5. I always thought the Montessori strategies were great and what your video showed was exactly what happened in the M schools I was involved in. Lots of collaboration, testing of theories and in-context activities. Great video.

  6. It's nice to hear something positive from this switch. In my area, we're only hearing negatives. And I do wonder why in December my 2nd grader is still reviewing last year's concepts. There doesn't seem to be as much differentiation as there used to be, but maybe it depends on the teacher. On the other hand, my 5th grader is doing great!

    Cheers to you and all the teachers out there fighting every day to make a difference in our children's lives.


  7. Came back to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Keep up the great work in those classrooms.

  8. I took a common core workshop over the summer. I believe in the rigor and the end product in mind.

    Happy holidays.

  9. I'm doing the K12 5th grade curriculum (common core) with one of my daughters and I really like how it breaks down the math concepts. I've always hated math but I actually enjoy it with this program. Don't know if that's a result of the common core or just K12 though.

  10. Hey Leslie, popping in to wish you a happy, peaceful and productive 2014!
    Take care.
    Writer In Transit