Thursday, November 5, 2015

Math problems of the week: 3rd grade Common Core-inspired math problems

The predominant interpretations of the Common Core Standards appear to be reinforcing the growing displacement of exercises involving arithmetic concepts with those involving the classification of shapes.

Engage NY's 3rd grade curriculum, for example, has a whole unit devoted to polygon classification, culminating in exercises like this one:

Even Singapore Math is getting in on the game. Compare a question in its 3rd grade Common Core Edition placement test:

..with the corresponding question in its (much shorter!) 3rd grade 3rd and U.S. Edition placement test:

Extra Credit

1. Discuss how the Common-Core shape classification problems overemphasize labels over concepts.

2. For the purposes of preparing children for 21st century colleges and careers, are labels more important than concepts?


Anonymous said...

Well, that is why the Primary Math Common Core edition is a Common Core edition. Schools have to teach it, so to sell to schools, something has to be included on it. Hopefully without ruining it too much.

I find it funny that if someone wants Singapore Math, why do they also want it to be US Math. But they do. So how to make it both... That is difficult.

Anonymous said...

I think the kinds of people who go into education, math or otherwise, are communicators. So vocabulary and labels are important to them. I am not sure they understand that math can be understood without so much of the vocabulary or labels, or even classification. There is too much early emphasis by them on communicating - explaining in words how you solved the problem, explain how your friends solved the problem, explain why this one is wrong, talk, talk, talk, communicate. They think that learning cannot take place without turning the kids into little teachers themselves. They think that if you can't communicate it in words, then you don't understand it. They forget that math is symbolic, and a form of communication in and of itself without needing sentences and vocabulary and words. And that some kids can understand things perfectly well without verbalizing. And that having to verbalize all the time can inhibit learning for those kids.

GoogleMaster said...

Wow, the Singapore Common Core version is horribly worded! "A rhombus has at least one right angle." That makes it sound as though they are defining the term rhombus, but they aren't, because a rhombus is an equilateral parallelogram. I think a better wording for this question would be "What is another name for a rhombus that has at least one right angle?", to which the answer is "square".

Anonymous said...

The Primary Mathematics US edition is identical to the original Singapore edition except that some names of people in word problems were changed and US measurements and money were added. So, in response to Anonymous @ 11:03, that's why someone would want it. The Standards edition is identical to the US edition except for a bit of reordering and a few extra topics added in (which are strikingly less well developed than the original material). The textbooks are also in full color for grades 1-6 (as opposed to just grades 1-2) and they have a cumulative review at the end of each chapter. Those last two reasons were why we switched to the Standards edition.

I suspect that the reason the original Singapore math was so well worded is that it was developed for use with students for whom English was a second language.

I'm sad that the Common Core edition may have changed this.

lgm said...

Having a geometry strand in elementary is only new since nclb/full inclusion. Those types of problems were in the curriculum previously, Many parents of more than one child know that, and provided afterschooling in the years that strand wasnt offered. Its nice that common core is allowing more children access to learning the grade level standards.