Back to: Module: Helping Students Do Math

This unit is one part informational and two parts practical. The informational part can all be found in the webinar. It’s the story of the Common Core—where it came from, and how it takes shape in Ohio. The information might help you participate more in discussions related to standards, but it probably won’t affect your work with students directly. The two practical parts might.

The first practical portion of this unit is the concept of learning progressions. When it comes to math, very few people can jump straight from Point A to Point D (see Figure 1). However, they can reach Point D by taking a small step from Point A to Point B, then a step from Point B to Point C, and finally a step from Point C to Point D. Occasionally someone may need an extra step in between two of these points. But the main idea is that almost any person can learn almost any math concept as long as he or she has the proper scaffolding. Ohio has published a set of learning progressions tailored for most of the content standards (it’s available for free online). But even beyond these specific progressions, keep in mind that students are great at learning things that are just one small step beyond what they already understand.

The second practical portion of this unit is the concept of practice standards. In addition to the content standards that recommend *what* math students should learn, the Common Core provides a set of practice standards that suggest how students should be able to interact with and use the math that they’re learning. The webinar goes into more detail, but here’s a quick summary of six practices that you might find helpful when working with students: Make sense of problems and don’t give up; go back and forth between math ideas and real objects; make and critique arguments logically; use tools to help you understand and solve problems; learn the definitions of math terms; and look for and make use of patterns.