Shifting to the Core, part 1

Martha Ruttle

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics prompt teachers to significantly change both what they teach and how they teach it. In a series of posts, we’ll address the three characteristics of the new content standards likely to have the biggest impact on the way you teach math—tighter focus, greater coherence, and increased rigor.

Finally, we’ll cover the other area of significant change, and one that may bring most apprehension to teachers—the CCSSM’s emphasis on Mathematical Practices. In each post, we’ll review the changes on their way and suggest some ways in which you can prepare.

Shifting to the Core

Tighter Focus

The CCSSM are probably more tightly focused than the standards you’re used to. The standards identify between two and four critical areas of focus for each grade level K–5. Taking the following steps will help you feel better prepared to focus your instruction.

  1. Read the standards  overview for your grade level to get a sense of the big picture.
  2. Identify which domains (topics) and clusters (collections of related skills) are already comfortable for you. Then identify those that are less familiar or that you expect to be more difficult to teach.
  3. Spend some time reading the standards in their entirety and discussing the more challenging topics with other teachers.

We’d love to hear about your experiences teaching to the CCSSM. Has teaching to the critical areas for your grade level changed your focus, or are they similar to what you focused on in the past?

This post is part of a series that addresses the characteristics of the CCSSM likely to have the biggest impact on the way you teach math: tighter focus, greater coherence, increased rigor, and an emphasis on Mathematical Practices.

Martha Ruttle is managing editor for MLC.