Common Core Math Problem Solving

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My take is that the standards are in line with effective programs, such as Singapore Math, but textbook publishers and other curriculum providers are creating confusion with overly complex explanations, ill-written problems, and lessons that confuse pedagogy with content.

Many of the “fuzzy math” complaints seem to focus on materials that ask students to engage in multiple approaches when tackling arithmetic problems.

Second, publishers should emulate the clarity and precision of Singapore Math rather than reinventing the wheel and coming up with one that doesn’t roll straight.

If they fail in that quest, nobody should buy what they’re selling.

Here’s a puzzler: Why are the Common Core math standards accused of fostering “fuzzy math” when their drafters and admirers insist that they emphasize basic math, reward precision, and demand fluency?

Why are CC-aligned curricula causing confusion and frustration among parents, teachers, and students?

Third, Common Core supporters need to understand that even as opponents eagerly pounce on any mistake that anybody makes in the name of the Common Core, that doesn’t mean that we deny or ignore such failures.

Failure is an important part of innovation and a necessary step in the quest for excellence.

Take, for example, this middle school problem, also drawn from Singapore Math: Unfortunately—but perhaps predictably—as more publishers work to align their math programs to the CCSS, there is ample room for screw-ups. He also tweeted a few examples, including this one: 6 students are reading books for book clubs. In the model below, each box represents one student in the group.

They are reading one of the following stories: Story A: Matilda Story B: Magic Tree House Lions at Lunchtime Story C: Superfudge 1/2 of the students are reading Story A. Complete the model based upon the information above.


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