Taken
from the New York State Testing Guide’s Educator
Guide to the Regents Examination in Geometry (Common Core)
Students will be expected to know
gradelevel mathematical content with fluency and to know which mathematical
concepts to employ to solve realworld mathematics problems. Students will be
expected to know gradelevel mathematical content with fluency and to know
which mathematical concepts to employ to solve realworld mathematics problems.
Upon
reading this statement I immediately became focused on the word “fluency”. Just to check my vocabulary, I went to http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/fluency
and found two definitions.
1) the
ability to speak easily and smoothly; especially : the ability to speak a
foreign language easily and effectively
2) the
ability to do something in a way that seems very easy

As a sample, this is from El Toro High
School in California:
Shifts in Mathematics


Shift 1

Focus

Teachers significantly narrow and deepen the
scope of how time and energy is spent in the math classroom. They do so
in order to focus deeply on only the concepts that are prioritized in the
standards

Shift 2

Coherence

Teachers carefully connect the learning within
and across grades so that students can build new understanding onto
foundations built in previous years.

Shift 3

Fluency

Students are expected to have speed and accuracy
with simple calculations, teacher structure class time and/or homework time
for students to memorize through repetition, core functions.

Shift 4

Deep Understanding

Students deeply understand and can operate
easily within a math concept before moving on. They learn more than the
trick to get the right answer. They learn the math.

Shift 5

Application

Students are expected to use math and choose the
appropriate concept for application even when they are not prompted to do so.

Shift 6

Dual Intensity

Students are practicing and understanding.
There is more than a balance between these two things in the classroom – both
are occurring with intensity.

Note these are
called “shifts.” The implication is that it is all new and different. Some are
not new, but some might be, depending on the meaning of the words used. What is
the meaning of “Teachers significantly narrow and deepen the scope of how
time and energy is spent in the math classroom”? I can guess at what
it is supposed to mean: fewer concepts so those dealt with can be handled
better. But does it mean that? I cannot
tell. I do know that the authors of that
statement did not display much fluency with it.
The more I delve into Common Core documents at the state,
district, and school levels the more I see a strange and unfortunate
gathering of words. Delaware even says “Mathematics is not a list of disconnected tricks or mnemonics.”
That can be found here.

Oops! Sorry Delaware!
That idea was previously written as “Mathematics
is not a list of disconnected topics, tricks, or mnemonics; it is a coherent
body of knowledge made up of interconnected concepts. Therefore, the standards
are designed around coherent progressions from grade to grade.” This
appears in Key
Shifts in Mathematics in the
original Common Core postings.
I
find it insulting that such a statement appears. Thinking it is fine, even
encouraged, but to find it relevant and meaningful enough to place in a formal
document is an insult to all the people who have been teaching mathematics. If
you need to insult some, so be it. But to insult all? That’s terrible.
Am
I against the Common Core? Absolutely not. Am I pleased with it as it is?
Absolutely not.
No comments:
Post a Comment