The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) specify not only mathematical content, but also mathematical practices that students should acquire and master. These practices can be thought of as habits of mind that students develop and use when solving problems. With the adoption of the CCSS in my state, I have been educating myself on what I am responsible for teaching my 4th graders and looking for resources to help me understand these new standards. Today’s post begins a 2-part overview of the 8 Mathematical Practices found in the Common Core.
Mathematical Practices #1-4
The first four mathematical practices are:
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
Paradigm Shift in Math Instruction
As educators, in order to successfully teach a skill, we must first understand it ourselves. Many of us received math instruction that focused more on mass practice of basic computation problems. While it might have once been acceptable to have students solve 30 problems for an assignment, the new standards encourage more in-depth analysis, interactive dialogue and articulating mathematical ideas. This cannot be achieved with the traditional 30-problem assignment. The CCSS are forcing a paradigm shift in how math is taught in our classrooms.
Making Sense of the Practices
I’ve included a YouTube video that provides an overarching view of the mathematical practices. Today’s post is limited to the first four practices. The final four will be discussed next week. In the video, Mr. Almeida provides a brief explanation and an example problem.
I’ve also included links to two PDF documents that rephrase the practices into language students can understand. The first link was created by a lower elementary teacher and the other was created for upper elementary students. I like them both, and plan to share them (or variations of them) with my 4th graders.
Use them to begin teaching your students the practices and what they mean. Make them a part of your daily math instruction with whatever lessons you are currently using. You can also go to the Common Core website and read a more detailed explanation of each practice for further clarification. Now is the time for teachers to begin implementing the 8 Mathematical Practices.