Update on Char, Tara, and Kara
Have you changed anything in the unit to address the Common Core?
Tara: I’ve used it on and off since we wrote it. Depending on the group and the amount of linear knowledge they came to me with, some years I’ve used it, others I haven’t. I’ve leaned toward using it more with groups that do not have as much linear knowledge walking into eighth grade. I have kept the same stories but just updated the handouts to fit on one page, front and back for each day. Some years I’ve just done two of the activities, other years I’ve done them all. Sorry I don’t have one set answer, but I wait and see what my students need and go from there.
Char. The unit addresses many of the mathematical practices with Reasoning and Communication high on the list and also addresses important content standards related to linear functions. It was well conceived, helping students conceptually develop understanding of graphing, slope, and intercept through a familiar context. I use it successfully every semester with algebra students. I use an abbreviated version these days, but it still covers the same content in the same way. I’ve also used it for many years with my mathematics methods courses for middle school teachers.
What are your thoughts on the CCSSM?
Tara: One thing I like about the CCSSM is that it allows teachers across districts and states to do more collaborating. I’ve been able to share and “take” lessons and ideas from people all over the place and that to me is a win for math education! There are some topics I question why they are in the grade(s) that they are, like surface area, but overall, I feel things are age/grade appropriate at the secondary level. Kara: I actually teach in a private school that decided to use Oklahoma Academic Standards for Mathematics rather than Common Core. Many standards in Common Core contained a large number of concepts, which made it difficult with our current system to keep track of exactly what had been taught. For example, if we stated that students had “mastered” HSA.REI.D. 11, they may have mastered cases involving linear functions but not yet learned about polynomial, rational, absolute value, exponential, or logarithmic functions.
Char. It makes sense to have a common core of standards that are implemented in all of the United States. The content standards seem to be still in need of construction and connection. At present, with each content standard on its own, they are disconnected, sometimes overlapping, some address big ideas, and some address minutiae that makes one wonder the reason for inclusion. They were put together in a hurry and desperately need reconsideration and revision.
Charlene E. Beckmann Department of Mathematics Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI 49401
Lincoln Christian High School Tulsa, OK 74101-0770
Tara Maynard Creekside Middle School Zeeland, MI 49464