Common Core Math Parent Handouts by Tricia Bevans and Dev Sinha

In the transition to the Common Core, we have focused more on supporting teachers and administrators, through tools to help improve their own understanding and to help work more fruitfully with their students.   But parents can also use help in this transition.  They have many legitimate questions and concerns such as having difficulty in helping their child with homework or wondering how the Common Core is designed to support their child’s mathematical development.    As parents ourselves we certainly empathize with others who are looking for clear, accessible knowledge.
We have written these parent handouts at the link below to help begin conversations which address these questions and concerns.  They are meant to be used for example at curriculum nights for parents.  We limit ourselves to one page of discussion and one page of an example (mostly taken from Illustrative Mathematics) at each grade, both for ease of use and so as to not overwhelm people with too much information at first.  Locally, we have been involved in discussions of deeper learning opportunities for parents, with these handouts as a starting point.
Click here for the document.
Edit:  Some people have asked for this document in a Spanish translation.  If you want to translate the document we would be happy to share the Spanish version here.
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Fall Virtual Lecture Series from Illustrative Mathematics

Welcome back to school! This fall Illustrative Mathematics will be offering our second Virtual Lecture Series, this one focuses on the theme:

Working with Number in the Elementary Classroom

The following lectures are scheduled in the series on Thursday nights from 7-8pm Eastern on Adobe Connect.  Watch them live with the ability to ask questions, or watch the recordings at any time:

September 25, 2014 Linda Gojak, Immediate Past President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Director, The Center for Mathematics Education, Teaching, and Technology, John Carroll University “Using Representations to Introduce Early Number and Fraction Concepts”

October 23, 2014 Dona Apple, Mathematics Learning Community Project, Regional Science Resource Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School “Supporting students’ conceptual understanding about number through reasoning, explaining and evidence in both their oral and written work”

November 20, 2014 Brad Findell, The Ohio State University

December 11, 2014 Francis (Skip) Fennell, Professor of Education McDaniel College, Past President NCTM “Fractions Sense – It’s all about understanding fractions as numbers (and this includes those special fractions – decimals!) – use of representations, equivalence, comparing/ordering and connections”

January 22, 2015 Susan Jo Russell, TERC: Mathematics and Science Education and Deborah Schifter, Education Development Center (EDC) “Operations and Algebraic Thinking in the Elementary Grades”

Sign-up here!

This school year we will offer two series. In the fall we are featuring “Working with Number in the Elementary Classroom” and this spring we will offer “Incorporating Mathematical Practices into the Middle and High School Classroom.” The intended audience for these series is classroom teachers, district and state mathematics specialists, and mathematics coaches. The five hour long sessions will include 40 minutes of presentation from national experts on Adobe Connect, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A. The sessions will also be recorded for participants that are not able to join in person. The cost to virtually attend each series is $150.

Here is a flyer to circulate among friends that might be interested or to post in the staff room!  Hope to see you there.

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Learning about the standards writing process from NGA news releases. Take 2.

About a year ago I noticed there was a lot of misinformation being spread about the process for writing the standards, so I came up with the brilliant idea of pointing people to the historical source documents that chronicled the process: the NGA press releases about the Common Core during 2009–2010. That will solve the problem, I thought; people will just read the press releases and figure it out. Boy was I ever wrong. In this post I’ll try to give a clearer timeline of the process. Along the way I’ll point out the involvement of testing organizations, since I think that one of the reasons the misinformation has survived for so long is a narrative, compelling to some, that the testing industry dominated the process. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t.)

First, here is the list, with an additional one from July 2009 that I missed last time (which has been the source of much confusion):

Notice that there seem to be duplicate announcements of the Work and Feedback Group and duplicate releases of the standards. What’s going on here is that there were two documents. First, in summer of 2009, the people listed in the July 2009 release worked on the document that was announced in September of 2009. That document, which was actually entitled College and Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics, was confusingly referred to as Common Core State Standards in the title of the September 2009 press release. If you take a look at it you will see that it is a draft description of what students should know by the end of high school.

Subsequently, as described in the November 2009 press release, a new process with new groups was started, to produce “K–12 standards.” These were to be a set of grade level recommendations that described a pathway to college and career readiness. For the K–12 process, there were about 50 people on the Work Team and about 20 people on the Feedback Group for mathematics, representing a wide range of professions, including teachers, mathematicians, policy makers, and one representative each from College Board and ACT … none representing for-profit providers of assessments. The members of this group are listed in a linked pdf in the press release.  This is the document that was released for public comment in March 2010, as described in the March 2010 press release, and released in final form as the Common Core State Standards on 6 June 2010, as described in the final press release.

As you can see from the list of members, I chaired the Work Team for the second document. Within the work team there was a smaller writing team consisting of myself, Jason Zimba, and Phil Daro (who had all been involved in the summer 2009 document, Phil Daro as chair for mathematics). We based the standards on narrative progressions of particular mathematical topics across grade levels that were solicited from the Work Team. We circulated many drafts to the Work Team, the Feedback Group, the 48 participating states, various national organizations such as AFT and NCTM, and, in March 2010, the public (see the March 2010 release). I personally made sure that we responded to and made considered decisions about all of the voluminous feedback we received.

When you hear people claim that “the standards were written by the testing industry,” they are probably referring to the first document, because of the greater involvement of College Board and ACT. Both organizations, along with Achieve, which was also represented, had conducted research into the requirements of college and career readiness. (All are non-profits, by the way.) The problem is that some people refer to the first document in a way that suggests they are talking about the second document (i.e., the actual K-12 standards adopted by states). That is an error and a misleading one.

The two documents are different in nature, of course, since one of them is just a picture of an endpoint while the other is a progression. Feel free to compare them. One influence of the first document on the second is that in the first document you can see the first draft of what became the Standards for Mathematical Practice. And the topic areas listed in the first document evolved into the high school conceptual categories in the second. All this evolution happened under the processes for the second document, with input from the various groups described above.

I think the second document is the work of the 70-odd people listed as the Work Team and Feedback Group in the November 2009 press release. But, just for fun, I put the teams for the two documents together and counted how many of them came from ACT and College Board (no other testing organizations were represented). It comes to a total of 81 people with 7 from ACT and College Board, about 9%. So even with this interpretation the claim that the process was dominated by the testing industry is false.

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Drawings in the Common Core

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the Common Core and drawings. I won’t get into the politics of that here—that’s for my other blog—but, politics aside, there is an important question of interpretation, and possible misinterpretation, of the standards here. Let’s look at the wording of standards that talk about drawings.

Continue reading

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6–8 Elaborations of the Practice Standards

Here is the grades 6–8 elaborations document for the practice standards. As usual, please comment in the forums.

[corrected version added 5/6/2014]

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Problem with RSS Feed for Forums Fixed

The link to the RSS feed for the forums (on the right of this page) was broken. I’ve fixed it now. You might not have noticed (I didn’t for a while) because it was simply not updating. So if you are using an RSS reader to follow the forums, you should delete your old feed and add the new url. If you don’t understand this message, ignore it!

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K–5 Elaborations of the Practice Standards

Illustrative Mathematics, with the assistance of Mary Knuck, Deborah Schifter, and Susan Jo Russell, has been working on developing grade band elaborations of the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Here is a draft of the K–5 document.

As usual, please comment by starting a new thread in the forums. I’ve created a new forum for the practice standards there.

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Virtual Lecture Series! (and we’re back from a rocky end of year)

Are you interested in engaging with national experts around mathematics education without the travel, hassle, and costs associated with attending a conference? Introducing Virtual Lecture Series, brought to you by Illustrative Mathematics. Virtual Lecture Series bring together top speakers from around the country for a series of talks, as well as time for questions and answers, giving you a chance to learn and interact with experts without leaving your classroom or office. Illustrative Mathematics will be offering a variety of Virtual Lecture Series on different themes.

Our first Virtual Lecture Series will meet around the theme: Preparing and Facilitating Engaging Professional Development for Teachers around the Common Core, on the last Wednesday of the month at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific from January through May. The intended audience for this series is district and state mathematics specialists as well as teacher leaders. The five hour long sessions will include 40 minutes of presentation from national experts on Adobe Connect, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A. The cost to virtually attend the entire series is $150 which includes access to the following presentations:

January 29th: Diane Briars, President Elect of NCTM, Topic: Effective Instructional Practices to ensure all your students are “Common Core Ready”
February 26th: Bill McCallum, Lead writer of the CCSSM, Topic: Preparing K-12 Teachers for the Pathway to Algebra
March 26th: Mary Knuck, Arizona Department of Education Retired, Topic: Math Talks
April 30th: Ashli Black, NBCT and Cal Armstrong, Math Teacher Leader, Topic: Involving Teacher Leaders in Preparing and Facilitating Professional Development
May 28th: James Tanton, Mathematician and Author of Thinking Mathematically! Topic: Instilling a Love of Mathematics

Also the blog is back from a rough time over the new year.  Sorry if you had trouble with any of the posts or forums, we were not as quick as we could be in renewing the domain.  Let us know if you continue to have trouble accessing anything.

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Task Talks

Are you interested in engaging with other educators about tasks for the mathematics classroom?  Illustrative Mathematics is starting a weekly conversation about tasks, called Task Talks.  Join the community on adobe connect every Monday night from 7pm Eastern to discuss the task identified on our Facebook and Google+ pages the previous Tuesday.  Use it in your classroom, use it with future teachers, or just ruminate on it throughout the week and join us for a discussion on Monday night.

This week we have chosen a fourth grade task about subtraction.  If you think you might join, please let us know here.

Hope to see you there!

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Zimba Zoomba

For extra added fun, the folks over at Edutron have created a popup version of Jason Zimba’s monster graph of the standards, so that when you mouse over a standard the text of the standard pops up (the mouse over effect doesn’t work in Preview on a Mac, you have to actually click on the standard).

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