Saturday, April 14, 2012

Common Core Math Standards

Teachers learn more about
the common core math standards

The learning objective of our professional development time this week was to begin to understand the common core math standards with an emphasis on seeing the vertical alignment of the domains in grades K-5.  We began our sessions with a short video that gave some background on the common core standards and why they were developed.  As a staff, we discussed our current Indiana State Standards in Math and how difficult it is to "cover" everything.  Reflecting upon that last statement, I believe the word "cover" says a lot.  In the past, we have tried to "cover" all of the requirements of our state due to the high demands of standardized testing and the weight those scores carry.  It became a race to see if we could make it "through the textbook" or "through the entire set of standards."  Unfortunately, with an exceptionally high number of concepts to teach, not enough time was given to develop a deep understanding of the concepts before it would be time to move on to the next standard on the checklist.  This has led to our instruction becoming more about how many standards/concepts we can teach during our 36 week school year versus how much our students truly understand the mathematical concepts before moving on to the next topic. 

Through the process of unpacking the common core math standards, it became apparent that many of the concepts we are currently teaching at each grade level will remain the same.  However, it also became very apparent that we are going to need to kick our instruction up a few notches.  As someone in the video mentioned, the way our past state standards were written, they led to us to teaching "an inch deep and a mile wide."  With the move to the common core, the goal is to slow down and spend the time to really develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts so that we are creating a solid foundation of mathematical reasoning.  We will need to focus our efforts on developing units of learning that will put more emphasis on the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

Each standard was written on a sentence
strip and added to our standards chart to
create a visual of the progression of
learning from grades K-5
We also learned that it is going to be important for teachers to not only collaborate with their grade level teams, but for teams to collaborate across grade levels to ensure that students are able to build upon their learning from year to year.  The level of understanding that is expected with the new common core standards has definitely raised the bar for all educators.  We look forward to the challenge of developing ways to take our students to the next level.  We also look forward to the challenge of taking our instruction to the next level as well.  It's time to slow the pace and deepen the knowledge.  We are all in this together!

Creating a visual chart of standards from grades K-5 and
having each team present their standards with an explanation allowed the entire staff to see the vertical alignment of each domain

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