
Math Matters – Rhonda Jewell
Throughout my time as a teacher/coach in Polk County, I‘ve often heard family concerns regarding the changes in math, particularly in response to the “new” common core curriculum. The truth is that we have changed the way we teach because we have learned so much more about the way kids think, internalize information, and learn in general. The goal of the common core is to grow problem solvers and to deepen an understanding of math concepts as opposed to memorizing procedures. Below is an excerpt from an online forum. The article is titled, “A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Common Core Math” by Jennifer L.W. Fink.
“Think back to how you learned math in school. You probably spent a lot of time (and flipped through a lot of flashcards) memorizing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. When it came time to add and subtract bigger numbers, you learned to “carry” and “borrow,” and those basic concepts carried forward into multiplication and division. You wrote your math problems in neat little rows, filled out a lot of worksheets and spent a lot of time wondering, “When am I ever going to use this?” Pi and volume and algebra just didn’t seem all that relevant to the real world. “When you think about how we adults use math in the real world, we’re not doing it the way we learned math in the classroom,” says Laura Laing, a former math teacher who is the author of “Math for Grownups.” In the real world, we don’t break out pencil and paper and neatly line up and subtract numbers to figure out how much change we have coming after we purchase a coffee. We round up. We estimate. We play with the numbers in our heads in whatever way makes the most sense to us – and some of us are better at that than others.
The ability to manipulate numbers so you can easily work with them in real world settings is numeracy. What does it mean to be numerate in today’s world? “Numeracy is very similar to literacy,” Laing explains. “Literacy is not just being able to read; it’s being able to comprehend what you read, too. Numeracy is like that. It’s not just being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide; it’s the ability to understand and use numbers in flexible ways. Kids and adults who have good numeracy skills can do math problems in lots of different ways – not just the traditional algorithm way. Their capacity for exploring with methods is greater! They can apply mathematics to any situation they came across. “Common Core math, when done well, gives kids an opportunity to discover mathematical ideas and concepts – and that, the research says, is the kind of knowledge that sticks with kids.” (Joan Goldsmith/Jennifer L.W. Fink)
We are all on this journey, learning together how to cultivate our young thinkers into problem solvers with a deep understanding of numeracy that stems from being able to manipulate and comprehend numbers. We embrace this journey with you, as we learn to be thoughtful, organized, and deliberate mathematical problem solvers. 
