Saturday, August 10, 2013

Common Core Math? Yes! Alligators? No.

Have you been thinking about Common Core? Of course you have! I was just asking to see if anyone was paying attention! Ha ha!

We're all thinking about the Common Core Standards. The Common Core is bringing some big changes to all curricular areas. One of the big shifts in mathematics instruction is the focus on true understanding of mathematical concepts. Everything I have read, watched, and heard regarding math has said, "No more tricks."  That means no more shortcuts, no mnemonics. We should be giving our students adequate instruction and practice so that they understand the concepts without the tricks.

We have all used some kind of trick or shortcut over the years. Teachers of algebra use the acronym FOIL for first, outside, inside, last when multiplying binomials. The mom, dad, sister, brother mnemonic is popular among teachers of long division. For young children, many of us have used the "alligator" to help students learn to use greater than and less than signs.

Um... Well... Ugh... It feels a little awkward... and some of us are pretty attached... but it's time to say goodbye to the alligator. And goodbye to those cute alligator posters.

I've created a set of posters that present the language of each symbol. The file contains two different versions, so choose the one you like and heat up that laminator. And listen-up... if neither strikes your fancy, be sure to leave me a message about what colors you need. I'll do my best.

In the actual teaching of the concepts and symbols of greater than and less than, I have heard recommendations to teach just one of the symbols first. For instance, show your class "the greater" than sign. Have them practice the language, compare numbers on the whiteboard, play games that involve "greater than," and use handfuls of beans and compare quantities using "greater than." Give them all the "greater than" they can take. And then, only then, introduce "less than." This recommendation made a ton of sense to me. Rather than confusing children with arrows pointing both ways, let them internalize the use of one, and then teach them the other.

So here it is. Click for your free set of posters! Print! Tell your friends!

Greater Less Equal

It might be a bumpy road this year, if your district is implementing the Common Core State Standards (like mine is.)  But we will get through it, without the alligators. Alligators are a little scary, anyway!

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