Many parents are in a quandary regarding helping their students with math homework. Since the instillation of the Common Core Math Standards everything seems to have changed. No longer do students come home with simple arithmetic problems to work out, now they have to write explanations for how they solved the problems (the process) and why they solved them that way (rationale). This is what the state is requiring from the students when they take the standardized test each spring. Math, thinking and writing are all part of the same test. No wonder parents are confused and often negative about Common Core.

What’s changed and why has it changed? Well, for a number of years U.S. educators have understood that we were the only first world country that taught math in a broad and shallow manner. Students were given multiple subjects to learn and not enough time to comprehend the concepts related to those subjects. Sometimes students would cover 30 to 50 math topics in a single year. That means they had about a week to learn that subject. Then they might not touch it again until the next year.

Other countries narrowed the number of subjects taught and increased the time for each one so it could be mastered. More and more students in the U.S. were falling behind. As the students progressed through the grades, they fell further and further behind. Another problem that was developing, was that American graduates had book knowledge, but little application. Companies were recruiting their employees from other countries like India and Japan. Our students were like the gentleman who could say horse or read the horse in five languages, but went out and tried to ride a cow. He had book learning, drilled and memorized, but no practical application.

Common Core is an attempt to level the playing field for our students. The problem is “the powers that be” started instigating this new curriculum across the board instead of preparing the students to work into it. Students need to be taught how to analyze, synthesize, and apply. That takes time and practice. At EZ Writing we have ‘Thinking Skills” segments as part of our middle school writing program that help students develop those higher order abilities.

In mathematical terms the higher-order skills students need to learn are the following eight practices:

- Comprehend problems and persist in solving them.
- Reason conceptually and quantitatively.
- Construct logical and sustainable explanations.
- Create models of mathematic concepts.
- Know how and when to use mathematical tools.
- Focus on being precise.
- Recognize and utilize mathematical structure.
- Look for patterns and repeated reasoning.

A new EZ Writing class will begin in the fall addressing each of these mathematical concepts and guiding students. Visit us online to sign up now!

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