Common Core Math Standards: Guide for Teachers

What are the Common Core Math Standards?

The Common Core math standards consist of eight main principles. These standards can be utilized for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to enhance students' critical thinking skills and their ability to demonstrate how they arrived at a solution. The standards are briefly outlined below, but this overview reviews the Common Core math standards in detail.

  • Standard 1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them: Students will first analyze a problem, search for possible solutions, and understand that there can multiple ways to solve a problem.
  • Standard 2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively: Students must be able to consider the relationship between items and demonstrate a concrete connection.
  • Standard 3 - Construct viable arguments and critique the reason: With this standard, students will be able to explain their thought process of how they achieved a solution.
  • Standard 4 - Model with mathematics: Students will take the mathematical principles they learn and apply them to real-world situations.
  • Standard 5 – Use appropriate tools strategically: Students will utilize available resources and strategies when problem solving.
  • Standard 6 – Attend to precision: Students must be able to articulate to you and fellow students how they achieved a solution.
  • Standard 7 – Look for and make use of structure: Students will analyze a problem to determine if there is a structure or pattern to it.
  • Standard 8 – Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning: Students will be aware if they are performing the same calculations during their problem solving.

Common Core Math Explained

The development of Common Core math methods were a result of the United States' low performance when compared to other developed countries. The instructional methods utilized in the country were wildly varied. In addition, the standards and competency assessments used by states were also very different.

This disparity in the educational system prompted state governments and educational specialists to develop a universal set of standards to be utilized across the country. The goal was to provide the same instructional material and assessments to all students in preparation for life after graduation.

So what is Common Core math? The methods draw from the ideas of Richard Houang and William Schmidt in that students should conceptualize problems and also be able to utilize concrete principles to solve them. The eight math standards serve to provide educators with clear and concrete instructional methods as opposed to vague ideas.

The process of how to do Common Core math is straightforward. The standards provide a framework for students to build off each year as they gain more critical thinking skills. Educators will ensure students comprehend material by asking them to explain their thought process for solving a problem.

Common Core Math Example

In states who have adopted Common Core, educators must teach to standards and Common Core math problems specific to their grade level. With each grade level, students will be expected to perform more complex calculations. The standards for students in grade 5 will be more advanced than those for a 2nd grade student. Learning about the different grade levels may help you better understand the Common Core approach to math.

Students in 2nd grade will advance in four key areas:

  • Enhancing their knowledge of base-ten notation
  • Improving their addition and subtraction skills
  • Understanding how to utilize standard measurement units
  • Describing shapes

A Common Core math example for 2nd grade students would be a subtraction problem that asks them to illustrate two ways to solve it.

In contrast, students in 5th grade will focus on these three key areas:

  • An ability to add and subtract fractions, along with multiplying and dividing fractions in limited cases
  • Performing two-digit divisions and utilizing decimals to hundredths
  • Understanding the concept of volume

A Common Core math example for 5th grade students would be providing varying quantities of items and dividing them among a group of children.

Implementing Common Core Math Standards

Once you gain an understanding of the Common Core curriculum, it is essential to formulate your lesson plans based on the eight standards. This Common Core math lesson plan template could be a useful tool to help you get started. Your school district or state board of education may also provide sample Common Core lesson plans to aid you.

A comprehensive Common Core math lesson plan does more than list your instructional material; it illustrates how you will communicate the information to your students. All Common Core lesson plans will list the learning objectives, any resources to be used, background information, applicable Common Core grade-level math standards, instruction, differentiation, and student assessment.

Regardless of grade level, your lesson plan should align with the Common Core principles of coherence, fluency, focus, comprehension, application, and dual intensity. The goal of any Common Core math lesson is to encourage students to utilize their mathematical reasoning skills. One way to do so is to ensure your lessons include problem-solving opportunities for your students.

Along with encouraging students to use their problem-solving skills, teaching Common Core math also encourages students to discuss what they did. Students should be able to articulate their problem-solving process, including what steps they took to arrive at a solution. This could include verbalizing their steps or creating a visual representation of what they did. As students progress through grade levels, they could also utilize graphing software or other electronic tools to articulate their problem-solving process.

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