A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
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.
The CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice are meant to be used throughout the year, applied to all lessons and skills practices. The wording is pretty dense and unapproachable, certainly not child friendly and possibly not even teacher friendly. There have been attempts at translation, but the examples I’ve seen still tend to be somewhat dry. Well, I guess I’ve temporarily run out of steam here. You’ll find the CCSS standards listed in blue below, but not followed by their ambient counterparts, not today.
I came across an article called Common Core and the Death of Reading. Many of the points listed are similar to what I’m experiencing now. Here’s an excerpt that I found to be most compelling: “The Common Core approach to reading is like breaking a molecule down into individual elements. But as any science teacher can explain, once you break the molecular bonds that tie the atoms together, you lose all the properties of the original chemical. You now have hydrogen and oxygen, but you no longer have water. In Common Core students may learn skills, but they do not learn to love reading or to really understand sophisticated written material.”
I must echo this: in Common Core students may learn skills, but they do not learn to love math or to really understand its sophisticated, complicated beauty. Read the article here, and please allow me to simply say that true math is more than disjointed Common Core parts, along with endless testing to make sure that all parts are present and accounted for, but always sans math’s amazing, indomitable spirit. Here are the standards, along with the picture from the article that today expresses my sentiments, exactly.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
Mathematically proficient third graders consider the available tools (including estimation) when solving a mathematical problem and decide when certain tools might be helpful. For instance, they may use graph paper to find all the possible rectangles that have a given perimeter. They compile the possibilities into an organized list or a table, and determine whether they have all the possible rectangles.
6. Attend to precision.
Mathematically proficient third graders develop their mathematical communication skills, they try to use clear and precise language in their discussions with others and in their own reasoning. They are careful about specifying units of measure and state the meaning of the symbols they choose. For instance, when figuring out the area of a rectangle they record their answers in square units.
7. Look for and make use of structure.
In third grade mathematically proficient students look closely to discover a pattern or structure. For instance, students use properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide (commutative and distributive properties).
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
Mathematically proficient students in third grade should notice repetitive actions in computation and look for more shortcut methods. For example, students may use the distributive property as a strategy for using products they know to solve products that they don’t know. For example, if students are asked to find the product of 7 x 8, they might decompose 7 into 5 and 2 and then multiply 5 x 8 and 2 x 8 to arrive at 40 + 16 or 56. In addition, third graders continually evaluate their work by asking themselves, “Does this make sense?”
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow for a farewell post to Grade 3!