Many teachers have become critical of the Common Core Standards for math, particularly fifth graders. Some have accused the National Standards as “neutritionally” based, and “reproductive” in nature. In other words, many believe that by using certain grades in math which are not widely used in regular classrooms, students will learn less-than-perfectly the concepts being taught. One teacher in particular has made much of this criticism, and it’s easy to see why many people are confused by her approach.
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Mrs. Hills, like most of the critics of the Common Core, starts by describing her own classroom situation: “We used to have students who were very poor at addition, subtraction, and multiplication. And it was getting so bad that I decided to take a look at my mathematics worksheets.” (Mrs. Hills is a math teacher at a middle school, so her problems may be somewhat extreme). After examining her math worksheets, Mrs. Hills noticed something troubling.
Most of her fourth graders had a poor understanding of both multiplication and division, and they struggled with both in their daily classes. Mrs. Hills found that even when she tried to help her students understand the concepts, such as denominators, decimals, and fractions, they had little success. So, how did these poor students do so poorly? Mrs. Hills thought it might be due to poor understanding of algebra, so she sought out to find out. What she discovered is that most of her poor fourth graders were doing so poorly because they were not using the appropriate math worksheets for fifth graders.
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According to Mrs. Hills, her students were using their Common Core Math Fractions Worksheets incorrectly, or not at all. Many of her students did not know how to use the book’s common fractions, like decimals and fractions of ratios. She also noticed that many of her fifth graders were not using common math worksheets such as fraction charts, or working with real-life problems using math analogies and visual images. Finally, most of her students were underrepresented in their math class, despite their stellar test scores. This made Mrs. Hills very worried about the performance of her students in both math and reading, on both tests.
Mrs. Hills and her husband drove to several local shopping malls, which had free printable grade 5 math worksheets. She selected a few different worksheets from each of the stores and then sat her children down to go over them. Her first concern was with her older son. He really enjoyed working on his math problem, but he did not fully grasp the concepts behind the worksheets. He really needed more practice in this area, and she felt like she had done a pretty good job preparing him for high school.
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Her other worries centered around her middle-school children. Both of their daughters were struggling in both mathematics classes. Their first problem was with the common core practice of sums. The girls could not understand why the sums always went to one end or another. Their second problem involved learning how to do a fraction problem. Their middle-school boys had similar problems, but their handwriting was a bit sloppy.
Each of these problems was getting better but still did not grasp the concepts behind the concepts. This is the crux of the problem; middle-school students are not well-equipped to learn many concepts in the core math courses, like subtraction, addition, and multiplication. They need more practice in doing even the simplest operations fractions. These activities are usually found on the common core worksheets, and are not part of the curriculum that is being taught in most states. These kinds of lessons in common math worksheets provide for an excellent opportunity for practicing and perfecting the operations fraction work.
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The other area where Mrs. Huntly’s children had trouble was with spelling. She did not feel that there was a great understanding of how words were spelled when they were just learning to write in the early grades. These kinds of Common Core Math Gaps also contribute to why many teachers are so frustrated in trying to teach this subject. If more parents and teachers understood these kinds of math problem worksheets, we may have a much easier time getting kids to truly grasp the concepts behind the work. These problems are the perfect place to introduce students to the math-common worksheets, and help them develop the skills they need to succeed in the high school mathematics classroom.
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