Mathematical Monday {Common Core Math Do You Know the Answer?}

I am sure you have heard many arguments for and against Common Core, and you probably have already formed your own opinions of it too.  I am not going to get on my soap box for today's post, because I have seen both positive and negative impacts of common core in my two years of teaching it. My goal for today's post is to remove your teacher shoes and step into your student's and parent's shoes.

Over the past two years my state has implemented Common Core, we are flying the plane as we build it, especially in the first year.  As a parent of a first grader I can understand some of the parents frustrations out there. One night at dinner my son asked how much was two quarters.  My hubby told him to add 25 and 25, note he is not an educator just a normal parent. :)  My son talked out his mental math strategy aloud: 5 and 5 is 10, 20 and 20 is 40, 40 and 10 is 50.  My husband then said...what did he just do!?!  I replied...Common Core Math.

I think my husband expected our son to solve the problem the way we were taught...5 plus 5 is 10, carry the 1, then 2 plus 2 plus 1 is 5.  As educators you know that all my son did was demonstrate his knowledge of place value to add the two digit numbers.  However, think about the parents that aren't educators...they are frustrated because they don't understand this new math.  They don't see the big picture, heck sometimes I don't see the big picture and I am an educator.

I have seen the problems many parents are frustrated about.  I have also had to explain and teach the new methods of learning to some of my parents.  In fourth grade the most questions I receive from parents are about the area or box method of multiplication and the partial quotient method for division.  I don't mind explaining Common Core or these new methods to parents, but what I can't explain to parents is why their children are required to answer questions like this:

There was a question very similar to this one on a district assessment given to our students.  Do you know the answer?  If so how long did it take you to figure it out?  I will be honest, it took a teammate and I a few minutes of talking it out to finally determine the correct answer.

Here are some other images I found online from post were people voiced there frustration with Common Core Math.  I do understand many of them, and bet if I asked my first grader he would most likely be able to explain them to me as well.

I seriously don't get this one.  If you do please share your knowledge :)

I am curious as to what questions you have come across in Common Core that made you go "What!?!",  or if you wish to share your opinion of Common Core Math.


  1. I am 100% in favor of Common Core math. I like that we are expected to teach children the "hows" and "whys" instead of just the standard algorithms. This way of teaching leads to an understanding of the process rather than just a "do as I say" type approach. I have found so many tricks that would have helped me as a student through teaching these concepts!

    What we do need to do, though, is to teach parents how to help with math. One approach my school takes is to tell parents that these are concepts the children learned in class. Parents should have the role of making sure the work is done, but not to actually teach the concept. A note to the teacher works well if a child is completely lost. Another way is to find a YouTube video to learn the process or to go to KhanAcademy for a video. Finally, a basic process sheet or the textbook going home works, too.

    The bottom line: Just because we, as parents, don't understand something, that doesn't make it invalid. It IS proving that we were not taught the deep understanding of place values and other concepts that the children are being taught today.

  2. I think the idea that kids should think about math and not just do it is an important one. Much of the conceptual development in math looks very different than the algorithms we were taught as kids. There are going to be silly questions on any assessment but the Common Core is about understanding the concepts of math and not just following a procedure.

    The Math Maniac

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  4. Jess, Here's a link to a survey I posted on Facebook as a result of my frustration over the complexity and wordiness of the fifth grade released math items on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website. ~Stacy Jess, Here's a link to a survey I posted on Facebook as a result of my frustration over the complexity and wordiness of the fifth grade released math items on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website. Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? ~Stacy What's New in Room 202

  5. Sorry that posted twice like that. Hopefully, you can muddle through it to find the survey.

  6. Jess, this is a very thought provoking post. I agree 100% with the commenters who said students need to have understanding of mathematical concepts, and that blindly memorizing algorithms is insufficient. One major concern I have with the CCSS is in the implementation and assessment. If we view the CCSS as a checklist and try to teach skills in isolation, we will not produce the kinds of mathematical thinkers we hope for.


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