While I really want to post about my classroom, I just have to put this little bit out there real quick. I recently had a conversation with a parent of one of the kids in my boyfriend’s band. She knew that I just got a job out here and asked how I was liking the Common Core. I said that I haven’t really been too affected by the change since I went to college learning with it and have been accustomed to it since the start of my teaching. She said that she had a friend that has been a math teacher in Illinois for many years and is absolutely hating the switch to the Common Core. She said that this math teacher disagrees with the philosophy.

I’ve heard criticisms of the Common Core, but usually it is because elementary students are learning a new method that their parents think is less efficient. I have never really heard anyone complain about the Common Core for secondary students. As far as I knew, there wasn’t much of a change except maybe the sequencing of topics.

I’ve only worked with a select few veteran teachers, and I really haven’t heard anything about the philosophy of the Common Core being different from what they had been teaching with before. Is there something I don’t know? I just thought the Common Core wanted to make sure that students learned the same topics, for instance, in 9th grade in Georgia as they do in 9th grade in Kentucky. I also thought the Common Core wanted to solve the whole “mile wide inch deep” problem and make sure students really understand the concepts instead of just regurgitating facts and then moving on, never to come back to them again. Is that really a philosophy? I just spent a long time searching the #MTBoS for activities that would be good to use to review factoring for my College Algebra class, thinking that I’d find them from someone’s Algebra I class, but I ended up searching through Algebra II and PreCalc and Math 2 and other named classes. Granted, I’m sure some of them were also being used to review just like I am *supposed to* be doing (I have ended up teaching most of these review topics to most kids and reviewing it with very few – I feel like there was a lot of summer slump here because they all say that they knew it at one point or that they’ve forgotten it – it’s really messing with my pacing – I feel like in the future I would much rather just review these topics when they are necessary for the topic we are doing…). I feel like the Standards for Mathematical Practice are just amazing and really hold kids to a higher standard, even though I’ll admit that there are some times when I’m really confused about how to assess them.

I always thought that I knew a lot about the Common Core because I have never taught with anything else in my head for standards. But maybe I just have more questions about them…But really, what’s there to disagree with in its philosophy, at least at the secondary level? I feel like I need to educate myself, but when I try to I just find political arguments, which just turn me off.

C’est frustrant de ne pas comprendre quelque chose que j’ai cru que je savait.

Hi Marissa,

Common Core is an interesting slice of educational history, philosophy, and research. Since I graduated in 2014, I also only know the experience of teaching with Common Core. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I researched the topic in depth for my capstone research project (2 years, 1 lesson study, and 65 pages later) I discovered that the standards really represent a turning point in math education. In contrast to many state standards that only recognized the recommended practices from NCTM standards, Common Core established the Standards for Mathematical Practice (critical thinking) from NCTM documents on equal footing with content standards. This change in focus is reflected in the myriad of content standards that emphasize multiple strategies and representations, while also opening the door for acceleration and earlier introduction of concepts.

For instance, linear functions (a traditional Algebra 1 topic) are now 8th grade material, while quadratics are the new focus of Algebra I with polynomial functions appearing, too. Part of the change is due to research, but part of the change is also the methods by which we want students to understand functions. An 8th grader might struggle with a purely algebraic approach to linear functions, but stressing the ability to think about functions with multiple representation (such as graphs and tables) makes the concepts easier to grasp. While a freshman might need a refresher on these ideas at the start of Algebra I, the idea is that the toolbox of representations is already in place for most students and we can start exploring more interesting functions like quadratics.

Sorry to be so long winded, but you hit a topic that I explored a lot as an undergrad and I also have to discuss at length with colleagues and parents. I couldn’t resist replying!

Thanks and have a great day,

Tom

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Thanks Tom! That actually is really helpful. You seem to really know your stuff! I’ll be directing my future Common Core questions to you!

And I guess I still don’t see the real harm in what the Common Core is doing…but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I wish I could have a conversation with that other anti-CCSS teacher to find out her real thoughts.

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