One of the complaints about math Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is that teachers now feel like they have too much on their plate. After talking to teachers with this complaint, there was something I have noticed: they added but never subtracted.
Look at your common core standards, especially for math. There are not that many standards. In third grade there are only 11 in all. Eleven. How many standards did you have before? Probably around 20? Maybe more depending on your state. Many math books and teachers are now teaching what they used to AND then adding the 11 new standards. That makes 31 things you have to cover. No wonder everyone is stressing! Here are some tips to help you manage the standards in your lessons:
- Study the standards for your grade level and determine the lessons you won't teach anymore. I understand how hard it is to just say “I’m not teaching this anymore” but there are reasons standards have moved around. Something you may have focused on in the past may be a standard that is now taught in the grade above or below yours. Let them teach that, and focus on your standards.
- Keep the momentum going when you're teaching the standards. I know sometimes students forget and need review, but math builds on itself. Don’t be tempted to stop for a week to work on a skill the kids have forgotten. Simply connect it to the standard you are working on. For example, if you are focusing on fractions and noticing the kids are struggling with multiplication, give them fractions with the same factors and use the mechanics as they practice. Use class time for standards and send home review for homework so parents know how to practice this and it is not intimidating. Everyone wins!
- Focus on core concepts and build numeracy. In math the “spray and pray” method is never best. Hong Kong scored the second highest on the Science and Math tests (TIMSS), but only teach 25% of the test to their students; whereas the U.S. teaches almost 80%. Hong Kong focuses on building basic skills. Keep that in mind. Build a foundation of strong mathematics and build on top of it.
- Don’t forget to focus on the standards in front of you. Get rid of that other stuff. A great place to go when you are feeling overwhelmed is achievethecore.org. It has lessons as well as PD and deeper understanding of the standards.
CCSS was developed to cut down on all the extra, so don’t forget when you add, you must also subtract.
Amanda Dykes is a Science and Tech Ed/STEM teacher in Birmingham, Alabama. She has degrees in technology integration and speaks often on being a connected educator as well as using technology and PBL in the classroom.