Designing Lessons Based on the Common Core State Standards for Math
When designing lesson plans based on the Common Core State Standards
, you must keep a couple of key things in mind. First, students are expected to gain these skills to prepare them for college or to enter the workforce after graduation. Second, the standards are about more than the skills they teach. They are focused on teaching students to apply the skills and use the skills to solve problems and think critically. For every lesson, you must consider how the skills/concepts being taught will play a role in your students’ futures and how the lesson will encourage students to use higher-level or critical thinking skills.
Making it Relevant
All of your mathematic lessons
should include real-life examples and application for the standards. At the lower levels, this may simply involve incorporating objects around the classroom into addition and subtraction problems or a discussion of shapes. At the middle and high school levels, you may be able to incorporate community problems or examples from jobs students may hold in the future. For example, students may use the Pythagorean Theorem to determine how far the base of a ladder must be placed away from the wall to rest a specific point on the wall.
Understanding Skills and Concepts
At the heart of the Common Core standards for mathematics is the focus on helping students build a thorough understanding of all that they do. They need to know why 2+2 = 4, not just memorize that fact. To help students understand the skills and concepts they are learning, you must provide students with multiple opportunities for discussion. Group students into pairs or small groups and allow them to individually solve the problem, then come together to discuss how they arrived at their answers. Require students to show all work when solving a problem. Occasionally ask students to write or share why they chose a specific method for solving a problem.
Encourage students to reflect as well. Math journals give students a daily opportunity to write down what they have learned and identify skills and concepts they struggled with. Since the focus of the Common Core standards for mathematics is to provide students with a thorough understanding of each skill and concept, the journals will also help inform your instruction and identify areas where students need to spend more time.
As students get wrong answers, encourage reflection as well. Do not simply give students the correct answer. Instead, tell a student the answer is incorrect and encourage him to try again. If he continues to be unsuccessful, provide him with the correct answer and guide him through the process of getting that answer. Then have him tell you why he got the incorrect answer and identify what skills he needs to focus on to get the correct answer the next time.
Doing it Themselves
You cannot follow your students to college or become their personal math assistant when they enter the workforce. When you design lessons related to the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, you need to allow extensive time for students to solve problems and apply the skills and concepts they have learned. While it may be frustrating to see students struggle to answer problems, the standards are designed to give them that time to struggle. By persevering to complete problems on their own and learning to identify where they went wrong and make corrections on their own, students begin to internalize the skills and concepts you have taught them. When you give students time to learn, discover, apply and think on their own, you build their confidence in their mathematic skills and they will retain and be prepared to use those skills in the future.