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  • So math in some ways is like baking. And math used to be taught as a recipe, as

  • a series of steps you do, and then you get a result.

  • And what you understand if you're a cook or a baker is that you add things in certain

  • proportions for a reason. And that, you know, your cake has to have

  • this percentage of fats to this percentage of flour in order to work.

  • And what Common Core tries to do is to do the same thing with math.

  • Sort of developing what they callnumber sense,” and number sense is understanding

  • more or less why we do the things we do.

  •  Common Core is taught in a way that most people

  • over 20 don't recognize. “We find ourselves tearing out our hair at the new math.”

  • It's the same thing I do when I get a check at a restaurant: Draw a bunch of shapes

  • and tell the waitress to find my error.” “Parents taking to twitter, posting unbelievably

  • complicated homework assignments.” These math problems circulate that just seem

  • really nonsensical. Which is really frustrating. If you have a

  • kid who has this simple problem that looks like it's being made way too complex for

  • no reason, it's totally understandable why people would say: this recipe that I learned

  • is the quick and easy way to do it. Why aren't they just teaching kids to do that?

  • So for example, we all learned to borrow when we subtracted,

  • but this doesn't really show you what you're doing. It doesn't really show you what borrowing

  • is. And so one of the ways the Common Core tries

  • to explain this is with a number line because subtraction is really about finding the distance

  • between two numbers. You start with the number you're subtracting

  • and you take little hops up to a more round number. So you go 10 between 90 and 100.

  • So you've sort of broken down the distance and you add these numbers together.

  • There's another method called the counting up method, and this is also for subtraction.

  • Count up from 38 to 40. Then from 40 you want to go up to the next big round number, which

  • is 100. Then you need to go from 100 to 300. And then

  • from 300 to 325. So that's the distance between 38 and 325

  • are these numbers that i've circled. You get this idea in your head that numbers

  • are flexible things made up of other numbers. 40 is a 38 and a 2

  • The standard algorithm is the easy and quick way to do it. Students absolutely still have

  • to learn to do it that way. But the idea is that this gives them a better

  • understanding of what they're doing. And that there are a lot of ways to do this.

  • There isn't just one right way to find the solution to a math problem.  

  • You read through the standards and they seem like really reasonable, good ideas. The most

  • important thing is how they're taught. Teachers understanding what's expected of

  • them, having the resources to teach it well. Because otherwise you do end up with

  • math problems that don't seem to make any sense at all.

  • And in some cases that's just the parents not understanding it.

  • But it some cases it probably is a bad lesson plan, a bad textbook, a teacher who doesn't

  • quite understand what they're supposed to do differently now.

  • There are definitely bumps in the road.

So math in some ways is like baking. And math used to be taught as a recipe, as

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Why Common Core math problems look so weird

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    Samuel posted on 2018/01/30
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