# 1.OA 1: Keeping It Real With Real Life Word Problems (#95)

A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 95

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math.  Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”  And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.”

Why ambient?  A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.  Today’s post will begin looking at the Common Core Standards for Grade 1,  listed in blue and followed by their ambient counterparts.

Operations and Algebraic Thinking   1.OA
Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction.
1. Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.

Staying within 20 is perfect for a first foray into calculation.  One of the most crucial differences between mainstream and Waldorf education is introducing all four processes at once.  Calculations are kept under 20 for all, and a distinct advantage is being able to work with equivalency from the very beginning.  Word problems are taken from the story or play so they stay in context, rather than being abstracted by basing them on random situations.  (See the Peanuts cartoon at the bottom of this post.)  Unconnected word problems are alienating and therefore less motivating.  Situations can be widely varied as they fit into the context of the plays and stories.  Maniplulatives too should be anchored in the reality of the plays and stories, as the Math By Hand glass gems are.  Since they are considered as jewels used for payment, i.e., villagers trading with farmers, shepherds, and fishermen for their wares.  The Math By Hand calculation strips are color coded to fit each of the processes, with a white square used for the unknown number.  So at first no equation signs are needed because the strips are color coded.  Each square can be filled with a number of gems, with the white (or blank) square able to be placed anywhere within the equation.  Using the strips with the gems is a first step that can progress to using real numbers and operations signs on the strips, then to calculations with pencil and paper.

Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal.  Tomorrow we will continue with the Common Core Grade 1 Operations and Algebraic Thinking Standards along with their ambient counterparts.