## Why My Son Needs Common Core

I know that there is a debate regarding the “new” math common core state standards. I understand parents are frustrated with children having to learn “new” ways to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. I understand that parents are frustrated with children having to show work and defend an answer, even when the answer is correct. I understand your frustration as a parent. I have a child who is off the charts in math. He consistently scores in the 90th percentile and above on all standardized assessments. He just “gets” math. (His mom is a math educator.) He is always frustrated when I ask him to defend his answer. His typical response is, “because I know it’s right.” I used to think common core was not written for children like him. He does not need to draw a picture or learn a “new” way to divide. I was wrong! My son needs common core.

A few weeks ago we sat down and worked several TCAP (Tennesse State Assessment) type problems for math homework. They were all division problems similar to the one below:

John has 12 apples. He wants to share them with 3 friends. How many apples does each person receive if John gets the same amount as all his friends?

My son was flying through these problems. After a few moments of watching him, I realized he wasn’t even reading them. I stopped him and asked him what he was doing. This was his explanation:

“Mom, the lesson is on problems with division. I just divide. The bigger number always comes first, so I take the bigger number divided by the smaller number.”

Something inside my math teacher heart died. I wanted to scream, “The bigger number doesn’t always come first!” and “What if the problem was multiplication and you assumed wrong?” and then I realized that our curriculum and check list standards have reduced real life mathematics to this.

A week later my son’s need for Common Core became evident. We were at Publix grocery shopping and we came to the juice aisle. Orange juice was on sale, 3 for $6.00. At Publix, you do not have to buy all 3 to receive the sale price. My son started to put three juice cartons in the cart. I stopped him and explained we only had to buy one. I then asked him, “If they are on sale for 3 for $6.00, how much is one carton of juice?” Remember, my son was in the 98th percentile last year in math and he “gets” it. His response, “$2.50? $3.00?” What?! We stopped in the grocery store and got out paper and pencil and I made him show me how he arrived at his answer. He drew a picture. Through this process, he realized his mistake. He told me he didn’t realize it was a division problem. He said, “Mom, I know 6 divided by 3 is 2, but I didn’t realize this was a division problem.” So yes, my third grade son sometimes needs to draw pictures. Memorizing his math facts is not enough. He needs to understand the situations that necessitate the memorized facts. He needs to be taught strategies to solve problems when they seem unfamiliar. He needs Common Core.

This is definitely worth a reblog! Thank you for sharing this story.

Reblogged this on Math Education Concepts and commented:

This parent/math teacher understands her son’s need for Math Common Core State Standards. Read more…

Ack! My daughter is in 3rd grade, too! And sounds just like your son. Anything that requires deeper knowledge freaks her out! She is so used to just doing worksheets.

We were gathering some data for a lesson study this year and decided to give a 7th grade Mars task about percents and sales. We gave it to 6/7 prealgebra,7/8 algebra, and 8th grade geometry students. They all did terrible. Students that aced the multiple choice algebra state test, failed the 7th grade task that required them to do some real life application. It was shocking.

I am excited about changing that…but if they are anything like my daughter, it is going to be tough.

Yes, Yes, Yes. Again, math is a .. language … whose total purpose is to … communicate … formulas for getting through the day. And if you … see the picture … then the formula becomes Art. Not just a way of thinking, more than a way of figuring .. a way of being. My entire being is a math formula,, equation, and solution that wants to be seen and recognized by the host universe.

If our children were taught to see math like they are taught to imagine a scene in a fairytale (also a formula in structure and intent to resolve a predicament), Wow!

This is a wonderful way to describe how even kids who seem to “get it” can benefit from multiple solution strategies! Thank you for sharing!

I love your insight! I could not agree more! Thank you!