Welcome to the World of Common Core Math

Welcome to October!

In this post, we share another magical math homework help book that really puts out the welcome mat for anyone entering the world of Common Core Math.

Even though the Common Core standards were released in 2010, for parents with young children, this may be your first encounter with the standards. So step in parents and teachers.  Don’t be afraid. Even though this book has Common Core stamped on the cover, I promise you will find no horror when you flip the page.

The Book

While I tend to cringe at the title of this Wiley Brand series, I do own many For Dummies books. The information is clearly organized and easy to digest.  Christopher Danielson’s Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies is no exception.

Common Core Math for Parents

Published in 2015, the book is divided into four sections:

  • Part I: Getting Started with the Common Core Math Standards includes a brief history of math education and the Common Core standards
  • Part II: Focusing on Elementary Math: K-5th grade
  • Part III: Moving Up to Middle and HS Math: Sixth through Twelfth Grade.
  • Part IV: The Part of Tens has 10 awesome resources and 10 or so proven ways to support math at home.

Christopher Danielson has a PhD is math. He is a father, teacher,  curriculum writer, and wizard of mathy amazingness.  He also wrote the magical books: a WODB Shapes book and a How Many? Counting book.  He writes about Talking Math with Kids on his blog and recently launched a website and project called Public Math (public-math.org).

In this book, Danielson’s clear, concise, compassionate and astute explanations provide the reader with a solid foundation to stand on as they navigate their children’s math path in school. A path that may be quite different from the path they took.  He shows how to leverage the perfect partner on this journey, your children. He shares questions to ask and ideas and problem to explore. This book is a must-have on any K-12 parent and educator’s book shelf, even if your school doesn’t follows the Common Core.

The Math

The Common Core state standards are a set of learning goals that outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. There are both goals/standards for understanding content, called Standards for Mathematical Content [An example in 1st grade: Students should be able to relate counting to addition and subtraction (e.g., by counting on 2 to add 2).]

There are also a set of eight goals/standards for understanding mathematical processes/practices, called the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Danielson condenses this list to a more manageable list of 4 practices. (See Chapter 3 for more).

  1. Asking questions (Why? How do you know? What if? Is it good enough? Does this make sense? What’s going on here?)
  2. Playing with Math (Experimenting with symbols, Building models)
  3. Engaging in Mathematical Arguing
  4. Connecting Ideas

“In a common core classroom, students’ ideas are center stage with a focus not on Common Core Math, but on student thinking. Teachers work every day to help students improve their thinking and to provide students with new ideas when they need them and when they’re ready for them.” [Danielson, p. 8]

There is still memorization of addition and multiplication facts in Common Core. But now, these are no longer rules without reasons. However, to support children in developing these reasons, your child’s math class and homework will look a bit different. This book is a great tool for understanding these differences.

The Magic (Help)

For busy parents and teachers, this book is designed with you in mind. Icons are used to point out Tips to make your life easier, summarized notes to help you Remember important ideas, and the Try This exercises to do with your child to understand the content and help your child.

To begin, I would recommend skimming Chapter 1 to get the Lowdown on the Common core. Then turn to the sections that match the grade levels you are interested in.  My children are currently in 1st and 3rd grade. I carefully read the Chapters 5-9 to get a sense of where they have been (K-3) and where they are going (4th grade).

I highly recommend reading Chapter 4 which outlines how to Understand Homework Assignments  and offers wonderful, thoughtful advice for supporting children while completing homework.

And the last section of the book gives great resources for engaging in math talk with children.  Some of the resources listed in the book are linked to on this blog in the Additional Resources section (e.g., Estimation 180, Talking Math with Kids, and Visual Patterns).

Like any math textbook, it is important to take time with math topics and then see how they play out with your children and in different contexts.  There are related videos to help you unpack the mathematical ideas in the book further (see page 4).  I hope you find magic in these pages as well. Homework time can be difficult, but I really think math homework time will be easier with this book. Maybe even magical.

See you next month for some more math book magic. Parents and teachers, be sure to check out our favorite fall magical math picture book from the library ASAP. I’m sure it will be in high demand. Or if isn’t, it should be!

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