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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Who struggles with Common Core math? Parents

Follow on Twitter as @ClassroomScoop
Cathryn Creno, Reporter, News writes, "Ahwatukee Foothills mom Elana Kaminski assumed it would be easy to help her son Trevor with math homework last school year."

Teacher Anna MacDonald teaches fractions during her third-grade class at Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary School in Phoenix on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. 

"I love math. It's my favorite subject," she said. "I like lining the figures up and being precise."
But Kaminski said the math problems her son brought home from third grade at Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary were anything but linear — or precise.

"There were all these pictures — circles, squares and number lines," she said.

"I did not get at all what they were doing. When I would set up a problem the way I was used to, he would say 'We can't do it that way.' "

Welcome to the world of Common Core math. Instead of memorizing facts and formulas, students today learn math by puzzling out answers and then exploring concepts that the formulas represent.

Kaminski and other Valley parents say the new approach to teaching math can be startling — especially for parents who excelled in old-style math during their own school years.

They advise patience and open-mindedness.

"My first thought was 'Oh my gosh I did not have to do this when I was young,' " said Vicki Landis, who has sons at Verrado Elementary and Verrado Middle School in Buckeye.

"Just watching them solving it differently than I was taught has been hard."

Landis said she finally figured out that the best way she could support her kids was by having them explain their methods for solving homework problems. That way she knew they were on track.

"I think all of us are resistant to change," said Francesca Thomas,mother of a Phoenix Arcadia High School student. "I've come to really like what the new standards are emphasizing — concepts rather than just memorizing."

Common Core arrived in Arizona classrooms starting in 2010 with the advent of the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards.

While Arizona's previous standards emphasized memorizing formulas, the new standards call for students to first learn the concepts behind the formulas. That's the reason so many kids are drawing pictures and working on number lines at homework time.
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Additional resources

Common core uses strategy and dialogue to solve math problems.