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September 14, 2012 / Jeff d.

Finding the Good in the Common Core

In general, I don’t like the Common Core State Standards (#standardizethat), but today I think I may have found a use for them.

I was looking for a student-friendly reading on what makes a good mathematics learner.  My plan is to run a Socratic seminar prior to developing class norms and beginning our real mathematics work (we don’t start school until after Labor Day, and spent the first week and a half building school-wide culture…so we won’t even be starting “math” until Monday).  I felt like my search was coming up short.

Then I remembered the Standards for Mathematical Practice within the CCSS.  As it turns out, that part is not too bad – although it is a bit lacking on some things I consider important, like learning from mistakes and risk-taking.

I re-phrased, re-worded, and deleted my way to what I think will be a decent, short read for learners leading into a text-based seminar.  Here it is…I’d love to hear what you think (is it still over a ninth-grader’s head? will it help spark meaningful discussion?  is it just garbage warmed over?).

(the formatting is a little screwy…I think because I wrote it in Pages).

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5 Comments

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  1. Tyler / Sep 14 2012 7:09 pm

    Interesting idea. A few thoughts:
    It might be difficult for students to jump right in, particularly if their primary reference point is a (perhaps procedural) problem they did before summer break.
    It could be interesting to start with a really meaty problem – students work on it in groups, evaluate themselves according to a (slimmed down?) version of this document, and discuss.

  2. Sue VanHattum / Sep 14 2012 7:36 pm

    They might be *able* to read it, but I think it would be hard to *use*. I like Tyler’s idea. Also, you might want to look at Avery’s Habits of Mind.

  3. Jeff d. / Sep 16 2012 4:31 pm

    Thanks for your input…feedback typically tends to reign in my crazy expectations (which is a good thing sometimes). I think I’ll find a different article for my current purposes, then use your ideas with this document a little later on. Thanks again.

  4. Cal Armstrong (@sig225) / Sep 16 2012 4:36 pm

    The Mathematical Practices don’t just lie within the Standards… they are far more critical to the mathematical success of students than the grade-specific standards most people equate with the Common Core. If there’s a cart & a horse, the MPs are the horse.
    “Risk-taking” and “Learning from mistakes” may not be explicitly written in the Practices there are aspects of MP1 that lend themselves to them: “Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution.” and “They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary.” .
    I don’t think we should equate “not in the Standards” as something not important… but what is written in them certainly is. And if we can agree on them as a starting point, together we can go a lot farther than deciding to strike out on our own with our own maps.

    • Jeff d. / Sep 16 2012 5:01 pm

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.
      I completely agree with you that the MPs should drive the bus. My biggest issue with the grade/course-specific standards is that they are simply too numerous and often too specific (i.e. minutia), especially at the upper levels. I’d be satisfied if the MPs *were* the standards…but this is a whole different discussion than the purpose of this post in the first place.

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