Barry Garelick is providing a great service to parents and teachers who have no choice but to navigate through the Common Core Math waters. Garelick has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Michigan and after retiring from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency he sought out credentials to teach secondary math in California.
He started in August a series of articles entitled “A Common-Sense Approach to Common Core Math” found at The Heartland Institute’s School Reform News. Right now there are three articles, but I’m sure there will be more on the way.
Here is an excerpt from his introductory article:
I believe that CC math, while not dictating particular teaching styles, has thrown gasoline on the ideological fire that has been raging for slightly more than two decades in education. I am referring to what is known as “reform math.” Reform math has manifested itself in classrooms across the United States mostly in lower grades, in the form of “discovery-oriented” and “student-centered” classes, in which the teacher becomes a facilitator or “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage” and students work so-called “real world” or “authentic problems.” It also has taken the form of de-emphasizing practices and drills, requiring oral or written “explanations” from students on how they solved a problem (besides showing their work), finding more than one way to do a problem, and using cumbersome strategies for basic arithmetic functions. Math reformers say such practices will result in students understanding how numbers work—i.e., math is about “understanding,” not simply “doing”.
CC lends itself to such interpretations because of the words “explain” and “understand” in their content standards as well as eight overarching standards called “Standards for Mathematical Practice” that embody “habits of mind” of mathematical thinking. On the surface and to those unaware of underlying concerns and issues, the SMPs appear reasonable. But they are being interpreted to force students into developing “habits of mind” outside of the context of the material being learned—which again feeds into the reform math ideology.
In part I he addresses some selected First and Second Grade standards. In part 2 he tackles Third Grade fractions. In part 3 just published Monday he discusses drawing diagrams for dividing fractions.
I encourage you to keep tabs on future articles as well.