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A classroom display of math phrases in columns and color-coded

Common Core mathematics is a way to approach teaching so that students develop

a mathematical mindset and see math in the world around them. We are making

problem-solvers. No matter what your objectives, textbook, or grade level, the eight

mathematical practice standards are a guide to good math instruction. Here they

are in plain English with suggestions for incorporating them into your everyday

math class.

What it means: Understand the problem, find a way to attack it, and work until it is

done. Basically, you will find practice standard #1 in every math problem, every

day. The hardest part is pushing students to solve tough problems by applying what

they already know and to monitor themselves when problem-solving.

Own it: Give students tough tasks and let them work through them. Allow wait time

for yourself and your students. Work for progress and aha moments. The math

becomes about the process and not about the one right answer. Lead with

questions, but dont pick up a pencil. Have students make headway in the task

themselves.

Useful resources: The Georgia Department of Education has created critical-thinking

math tasks for every standard. The New York City Department of Education has a

set of aligned tasks as well.

What it means: Get ready for the words contextualize and decontextualize. If

students have a problem, they should be able to break it apart and show it

symbolically, with pictures, or in any way other than the standard algorithm.

Conversely, if students are working a problem, they should be able to apply the

math work to the situation.

Own It: Have students draw representations of problems. Break out the

manipulatives. Let students figure out what to do with data themselves instead of

boxing them into one type of organization. Ask questions that lead students to

understanding. Have students draw their thinking, with and without traditional

number sentences.

Useful Resources: Inside Mathematics breaks down each practice standard with

video segments, as does Illustrative Mathematics. The Mathematics Assessment

Project provides sample tasks for each standard.

#3 Construct viable

critique the

Common Core Talk

arguments and

reasoning of others

Moves

mathematical language,

work of others.

to support or oppose the

and make your students

class, either! Use "talk

discourse. Work on your

from day one so that it is

ideas.

mathematical vocabulary

use it not just in math

moves" to encourage

classroom environment

a safe place to discuss

Resources: Talk moves are a prerequisite to being able to achieve the practice

standards. Download some of the talk moves my co-workers and I use to print and

hang, read How to Get Students Talking! from Math Solutions to understand the

importance of talk moves, and check out chapter 2 of Classroom Discussions: Using

Math Talk to Help Students Learn for great examples.

What it means: Use math to solve real-world problems, organize data, and

understand the world around you.

Own it: Math limited to math class is worthless. Have students use math in science,

art, music, and even reading. Use real graphics, articles, and data from the

newspaper or other sources to make math relevant and real. Have students create

real-world problems using their mathematical knowledge.

Resources: DynaMath makes real-world connections fun and engaging for students.

Mathalicious.com is a paid service, but just browse the free sample lessons and

youll see the creativity. Teaching Children Mathematics features articles, lessons,

and ideas every month that model mathematics across curriculums. Model with

Mathematics Using Menus in Math

What it means: Students can select the appropriate

math tool to use and use it correctly to Girls Measuring

with Math Tools solve problems. In the real world, no one

tells you that it is time to use the meter stick instead of

the protractor.

Own it: Dont tell students what tool to use. Try to leave

the decision open ended and then discuss what worked

best and why. For example, I wanted my students to find

their height. They had measuring tapes, rulers, and

meter sticks among their math tools. Once everyone

found their height, we discussed which tools worked best and why. Leave math tools

accessible and resist the urge to tell students what must be used for the task. Let

them decide; they might surprise you!

Resources: Set your manipulative ground rules early to ensure classroom

management. The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives gives you every tool you

could ever want. A host of videos on the Teaching Channel show great math lessons

with valuable incorporation of tools.

#6 Attend to precision

What it means: Students speak and solve mathematics with exactness and

meticulousness.

Own it: Push students to use precise and exact language in math. Measurements

should be exact, numbers should be precise, and explanations must be detailed.

One change Ive made is not allowing the phrase, I dont get it. Students have to

explain exactly what they do and do not understand and where their understanding

falls apart.

Resources: NCTMs Never Say Anything a Kid Can Say offers some tough advice

for getting students to be precise while working through tasks. All Things Common

Core details what precision looks like in a classroom.

#7 Look for and make use of structure

Modeling with Fractions What it means: Find patterns and repeated reasoning that

can help solve more complex problems. For young students this might be

recognizing fact families, inverses, or the distributive property. As students get

older, they can break apart problems and numbers into familiar relationships.

Own It: Help students identify multiple strategies and then select the best one.

Repeatedly break apart numbers and problems into different parts. Use what you

know is true to solve a new problem. Prove solutions without relying on the

algorithm. For example, my students are changing mixed numbers into improper

fractions. They have to prove to me that they have the right answer without using

the steps.

Resources: Greg Tangs strategy of breaking numbers into the appropriate pieces to

make math easy is really what repeated reasoning is all about. Mathlanding uses

videos and examples that show that even the youngest mathematicians make use

of structure.

Creating Pie Charts in MathWhat it means: Keep an eye on the big picture while

working out the details of the problem. You dont want kids that can solve the one

problem youve given them; you want students who can generalize their thinking.

Own it: I heard Greg Tang speak a couple of years ago and he gave some advice I

think fits this standard perfectly. He said to show students how the problem works.

As soon as they get it, start making them generalize to a variety of problems.

Dont work fifty of the same problem; take your mathematical reasoning and apply

it to other situations.

Resources: Learner Express has video lessons showing repeated reasoning. Greg

Tang offers several resources for finding regularity through math games. NCTM

offers tasks aligned to each of the practice standards.

The practice standards are a lot to take in. They are the foundation for

mathematical thinking and practice in our classrooms. The Hunt Institute has a

great clip telling why these practices are so important. I know Im learning and

adapting just as much as my students in trying to implement them!

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