Blogstitute: Got Common Core?

July 6th, 2015

Today’s Blogstitute post comes from Christine Moynihan, whose latest book is Common Core Sense: Tapping the Power of Mathematical Practices. In this post Christine introduces the GOLD framework that helps make the Standards for Mathematical Practice more accessible to elementary teachers. Be sure to leave a comment or ask a question for a chance to win 12 Stenhouse books! On Twitter you can follow along using #blogstitute15.

Got Common Core?
By Christine Moynihan

FC FINAL CommonCoreSense.inddSomething I hear from many teachers is that it is challenging to be up-to-date on everything that teachers should and must know in order to be effective practitioners. This is especially true for elementary teachers, who are asked to be content experts in reading, writing, grammar, spelling, science, social studies, and, of course, mathematics. Not only do they need to have expertise in these curriculum areas in terms of content, but they must also be experts in the best instructional practices that will support their students in learning in each of these areas. (I’m not even going to go into how they also have responsibility for social and emotional growth, health and wellness, behavior management, and the list goes on. . . . )

So, as a former classroom teacher, I get it. As a former curriculum specialist, I also get it. As a former principal, I most certainly get it. As a current educational consultant, not only do I get it, I hear it all the time—there is just so much to know, so much to learn, so much to do. As a result, when I ask a variation of the “Got Common Core?” question, many teachers respond that although they “get” the basics of the Common Core in terms of the standards for mathematical content for their specific grade levels, they believe that they have a somewhat light understanding of the standards for mathematical practice. Most teachers report that what they know about the MPs has been by way of an introductory look at them at a professional development session and/or staff meeting, with little or no follow-up.

My major purpose in writing Common Core Sense: Tapping the Power of the Mathematical Practices emanates from my desire to help teachers gain a foothold in understanding the MPs and how they can affect their practice. The book is meant to be a vehicle for making the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice more accessible to elementary teachers, for I see them as the core of mathematical proficiency. As I wrestled with how to do that, I defaulted to something that has always worked for me as a learner—to devise some kind of a framework, a mnemonic of sorts, to aid in understanding and then activating that understanding. Because I had been saying over and over again that “the gold of the Common Core really lies within the mathematical practices,” I constructed the GOLD framework to help teachers see some of the major components of each MP and then think about what they may look and sound like in classrooms, and what might need to be done to support the incorporation and implementation of the MPs into daily practice.

The Framework:
Go for the goals—What are the major purposes of the practice?
Open your eyes & observe—what should you see students doing as they utilize the practice? What should you see yourself doing?
Listen—What should you hear students saying as they utilize the practice? What should you hear yourself saying?
Decide—What do you need to do as a teacher to mine the gold?

I identified three major goals for each mathematical practice, fully aware that there are many more goals to be found within each. In the link you will find what I have identified as the second goal of Mathematical Practice #3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. What’s not to love about MP3? When you can analyze your thinking enough that you can clarify it, defend it, justify it, and represent it, you have learned something that will be valuable in all areas of life. In terms of mathematics, that ability leads you straight to the path of being mathematically proficient—a goal we all have for our students. I hope that the chart for the second goal I identified for MP3 can help in your work to make this MP come alive for the students in your classrooms.

Accept that viable explanations of mathematical thinking must be organized, reasonable, and justifiable/laden with proof.

Entry Filed under: math

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Teresa  |  July 6th, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    The GOLD framework is a great idea. Although I do not teach math, the questions can help me make sure my students are getting it and that I stay focused on student learning.

  • 2. Kelly Mogk  |  July 6th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I was just thinking this morning about what *real learning* is, as opposed to a grade on a paper, and how I can help my students understand that. I love what you’ve shared here about MP3 — the ability to construct arguments and critique in a reasonable, analytical way is a huge part of this. I like the GOLD framework and also like thinking about flipping it around to the students. If they can write or speak about each part of this framework, they can show their learning! Thanks for sharing.

  • 3. Cheryl  |  July 7th, 2015 at 9:02 am

    I like the idea of the GOLD framework as well. And it feels like something that can be incorporated into a variety of curricular area. Those four practices are elements of good teaching at any level with any content =)

  • 4. Rachelle  |  July 8th, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I’ve definitely struggled with how to integrate the mathematical practices into my teaching. The examples provided are really helpful, especially the ideas we should be listening for.

  • 5. Sarah  |  July 8th, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Firstly, I do not teach math. I tried once to help my little brother with his college algebra and quickly developed a healthy respect for math teachers everywhere. Second, I hear more complaints about the Common Core math standards than any other aspect (other than testing) of the CCSS and I have to say I am not entirely solid on what the fuss is all about. It seems people are concerned with changing the way things are taught? If this is the case, then any resource that redefines the Core into a more easily understandable and applicable concept is a good idea. Change is always uncomfortable, so if we cannot mesh the new with the old, meshing the new with common sense seems to be a great second (maybe better?) option.

  • 6. Tracy Mailloux  |  July 9th, 2015 at 7:50 am

    First of all, thank you Christine for your opening paragraph! I think that many people think it is easier to teach elementary grades because the kids are younger and the concepts seem more basic. So not true! Elementary and primary teachers are responsible for the foundation of all future learning! That’s a big load to shoulder! Thank you for acknowledging this.

    To the math practices, I have found over the last 3-4 years of CCSS implementation that it is the standards of mathematical practice that drive the content standards I’m teaching. When first published I thought, “Why are they putting more on our plates?” But with a closer look, and more experience with them, it is clear to me now that they do go hand in hand. A shift for many, I believe, is that students need to be able to plan, justify and defend their strategies. Not a bad life skill to have at all! I think some of the most vocal opposition to these practices have been from parents who don’t understand the importance of that reasoning. Not because they don’t understand it, but because it’s not the way they were taught. I think a great example of this is subtraction with regrouping. I teach second grade and see many adults teach children the traditional algorithm shortcut right away because it is “easier”. What they don’t necessarily see, that I do as the classroom teacher, is the struggle with doing this because place value concepts are not solidified for larger numbers yet, or students having no understanding of why that works. We need to remember that one thing builds upon another for a reason, and that includes the standards of mathematical practice.

  • 7. Dondra Parham  |  July 17th, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Mathematical Practice Standards address how students approach math and problem solving. These are the tools, the practices that students can use to mathematize their world. With students, we look at these practices for exactly the things you have charted: If we are doing these eight things, what will we see and hear in our work? Students become very adept at recognizing their use of the practice standards. Teaching with the mathematical Practice Standards in order to achieve the content standards has enriched our practice, and the benefits show in our students’ growth.

  • 8. FANG Qinhua  |  July 17th, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks Christine’s GOLD framework. I’m very interesting in this topic. How can I read the full text?

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