The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice are becoming increasingly integral to school systems nationwide. While it has its critics, the appeal of having math curricula meet a uniform set of standards and practices does have valid merits.
The CCSS differ from concept-based curriculum standards. Each Common Core mathematical practice is designed to help students learn to think logically, which will help you (the educator) go beyond drills and work toward create young mathematicians.
There are eight total Common Core mathematical practices and each is vital to instilling proficiency in the standards. The following four tips will help you integrate each of these eight practices into your own math lesson plans.
1) Enhance and practice mathematical reasoning skills
When using the Common Core practices, students will be expected to analyze problems, learn to reason, and analyze the reasoning of others. Story problems are good candidates for this type of thinking. For students who respond to kinesthetic stimulation, offer manipulatives to help them develop the line of reasoning, as constructing a viable argument and using tools appropriately are Common Core standards.
2) Help students connect abstract math ideas to real-world situations
Numbers are abstract, and children must be able to make connections between the abstract nature of math and real-world situations. For instance, under the mathematical practices, students will be required to make the transition from thinking about subtracting three apples from a basket of ten to simply understanding and solving 10-3.
Students can begin in a real-world situation and connect the actions to abstract thought. For example, try problems (like ratios or fractions) where they identify the number of times they can touch their toes or do jumping jacks in one minute. Students can then use this number to solve or analyze a number of mathematical processes (ratio, percentage, rate, etc.). The physical action done by the student becomes less concrete and more abstract once it's put into math-sense, but the student will gain a better understanding because he or she was part of it every step of the way.
3) Adding real-world value to mathematical concepts and processes
You've probably heard students complain about the "seemingly-useless" mathematical concepts they've learned. You and I know they are not useless, but sometimes it may be hard for the student to see the value. The Common Core mathematical practices are designed to make the connection and value between mathematics and the real world transparent to both the teacher and student.
A great method to achieve this transparency is to tap into a student's interests, i.e. connecting the day's lesson plan and your student's desire for treats/candy by having groups plan a hypothetical party. Deciding the needed volume of sheet cake will be needed or how many pizzas to order to feed everyone will provide a real and exciting challenge. This will also help reinforce the Common Core mathematical practice of attending to precision, as mistakes in calculating the number of cake or pizza could leave the their fellow classmates food-less and hungry.
4) Don't forget the fun! Challenge and reward your students
The Common Core math standards can also be reinforced via optional enrichment activities. These fun activities help children see that math is all-around them and is required in the lifelong quest to make sense of the world. Present a challenging problem for discussion and extra credit for the student who can not only solve it, but explain their work in detail. For instance, try offering extra credit to students who can find the most parallelograms in the classroom or can find the shortest route from your desk to the door.
Critical thinking skill are a key part of the mathematical practices and can be developed and strengthened via the quick, fun activities. Looking for structure and order in the world is a function that will carry over into other subject matters and takes advantage of a child's natural desire to perceive order and patterns.
Developing reasoning and communication skills are at the heart of Common Core mathematical practice, and will prepare students for higher mathematics and for the skills required for innovative thinking in the 21st century.