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Midland Park

Common Core Confusion: Help With The 'New Math'

01/28/2014 12:35PM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

Confused about your child’s math homework? You are not alone. The recent switch in curriculum to adhere to the Common Core State Standards has many parents scratching their heads. To help, the Midland Park Elementary Parent-Teacher Association recently hosted a math night for parents of K-6 students.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS)  were adopted in New Jersey in 2010, and mandated to be implemented in every school district in the 2013-14 school year. The move to Common Core has been a hot-button topic across the country, with criticisms ranging from its focus on standardized testing, to more unfunded state mandates and, in the extreme, a federal takeover of education.

Regardless of your opinion on the issue, Common Core has come to Midland Park, and many parents have asked for help understanding the new concepts in order to help their children with homework. 

The new math standards pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application, the presentation explained. (The slides from the presentation are available here). The scope of content taught in each grade is narrowed, while key concepts are explored in greater detail.

The curricula moves away from mile wide, inch deep learning, focusing instead on key areas and concepts, and different methods for solving problems. As a result, throughout the grades, students build upon the foundations of core content from earlier years as an extension of previous learning. 

While the "old math" focused on merely finding the answers to the equations, often through rote memorization, the new math is geared toward teaching students to understand concepts from a range of perspectives, ultimately tapping into each student's individual learning style. 

For parents who are used to solving problems one way, Common Core math and its new terminology, is understandably confusing, if not downright frustrating. Fortunately, homework help is available.  

Go Math Academy, by textbook makers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, offers handy video tutorials organized by grade, topic and subtopic. The brief lessons — about 5 minutes a piece — are designed to to help parents and students learn the basic concepts taught in class to apply to homework. The engaging tutorials feature age appropriate teaching styles, and can be viewed on computers, smart phones or tablets. 

A grade-by-grade overview of the new math curricula is available at these links: 

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