" In this changing world, those who understand and can do mathematics will have significantly enhanced opportunities and options for shaping their futures. Mathematical competence opens doors to productive futures, A lack of mathematical competence keeps those doors closed....All students should have the opportunity to learn significant mathematics with depth and understanding."
Math looks different these days.
Math is about DOING. Doing mathematics means generating strategies for solving problems, applying those approaches, seeing if they lead to solutions, and checking to see whether your answer makes sense. Doing mathematics in the classroom should model the act of doing mathematics in the real world.
If you visited your child’s math class, it may look different from what you remember. For example, 2 apples + 2 apples still equals 4 apples, and learning your multiplication tables is still important. But, now you are likely to see your child solving real problems. Second graders might:
- Figure out how many apples they need for a classroom party.
- Determine the cost to buy those apples.
- Compare how much money they need to have in the class kitty.
Fourth-graders are learning not only that 7 x 8 = 56, but, are deciding when they should use multiplication to solve a problem. Educators want children to under- stand that math is not only useful out of the classroom, but in their daily lives too. We know that every child is capable of achieving in math topics such as geometry, data and statistics, and algebra—topics we’ve traditionally thought of as only accessible to some.
Math Classroom environments should look like:
- Persistence, effort and concentration
- Students share ideas
- Students listen to each other
- Errors or strategies that did not work are opportunities for LEARNING!
- small groups stations-strategy based
- Productive struggle
- students applying prior knowledge, testing ideas, making connections and comparisons and discussing them.
MY CHILD’S TEACHER SAYS THAT THE MATHEMATICS IS PROBLEM-BASED. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Teachers are now using activities that are connected to students’ real lives. Like mathematicians, students are now solving problems that may take them an hour, or perhaps, several hours to solve. There may be many ways to solve the problem.
Children think about mathematics in different ways depending on their prior experiences at home and school. Teachers want your children to understand how important math is and how it helps them solve every-day problems. By allowing students to think flexibly about numbers teachers encourage them to “own” the mathematics forever, instead of “borrowing” until class is over.
Parents can help out by showing their children when they use math. That may be as simple as:
- Helping your child estimate in the grocery store;
- Deciding together how many plants can fit into a garden and drawing a scale plan of your garden; or
- Discussing how the interest works on the mortgage.
MY CHILD TALKS ABOUT WORKING IN PAIRS AND GROUPS. IS THIS HELPFUL?
Research shows that students’ working together helps with understanding. It allows more time for all young people to talk about what they know and don’t know. During group problem-solving, teachers are actively listening to the students’ reasoning which, in turn, helps them better understand the students’ thinking. There is still time in the classroom for students to work independently, and teachers know how important that is. Business and industry leaders say that the three “R’s” are still important but that new employees also need good communication skills and the ability to work in a team.
MATH IS EVERYWHERE! LOOK FOR IT WITH YOUR KIDS.
Football—is it possible for a team to score 22 points? How many ways can they do it?
Is there an impossible score?
Driving to School—what does “miles per hour” mean? How does it help us know how long it will take us to get to school? What else may influence how long it takes us to get somewhere in the car?
Consumers—is it more cost effective to lease or buy a car?
How much paint do I need to buy to paint the front hall? Can you guess the amount needed or do you need measurements to figure out how much paint to buy?
In the cafeteria of your school? How much change will I get back?
At the grocery store- have students predict the cost of the items. Then have them predict the change you will get back? Is it better to buy a normal size item or the family size?
Classifying and sorting.
Do the laundry. Examine and talk about the different patterns and designs in fabrics with your child. Measure the detergent, and talk through the steps involved in the sequence of doing the laundry. Use terms like “first,” “next,” “then,” and “finally” to help your child sequence the actions.
Make patterns with coins. Expand simple repeating patterns such as penny, nickel, dime, penny, nickel, dime– to include growing patterns like penny, nickel, nickel, dime, dime, dime, etc.
Children love to have collections of objects from shiny rocks to trading cards, cars, or dolls. Sort these collections by different attributes, such as color, size, function, and design, depending on the collection.
Working with money.
Before going to the store, give your child a list of items to locate. Once at the store, read the signs above the aisles, and ask your child where they think the items can be found.
Older children can look at the unit prices or price per pound and calculate the costs.
Have an extra calculator? Kids love to use a calculator to add up the costs of items and figure out the correct amount of change.
Use the scale in the produce department to estimate and weigh fruits and vegetables.
Have your child open a bank account. Calculate interest, subtract withdrawals, and add deposits.
Cut a string in various lengths to equal one foot, one meter, and one yard. Challenge your child to find things that measure greater than, smaller than, or the exact length of the measurement string.
Estimate and calculate volume by filling measuring cups with rice, beans, or water.
Some foods are often divided into equal portions and come in a variety of shapes. Use graham crackers to illustrate fractions, waffles to explore area and arrays (rows x columns). Divide snack crackers in half to demonstrate symmetry, or divide crackers among several children to illustrate the concepts of multiplication and division.
Adding and subtracting.
Ask your child questions like, “If I give you 15 crackers now and 10 crackers later, how many will you have eaten in all?” or “If you ate a total of 25 crackers, some in the morning and 10 in the afternoon, how many crackers did you eat in the morning?”
Add different groups of items, and have children use the terms “more than,” “less than,” or “equal to,” to describe the relationships between or among the groups.
Adding math concepts to daily conversations helps children see that learning extends beyond the classroom, and is used in many ways on a daily basis. Applying what they’ve learned in an interesting and fun way throughout the day helps children practice what they know, form connections between old and new learning, and see the practical application of learned mathematical concepts.
Having fun doing math is key to helping children on their journey to become life-long learners.
Ideas to Increase Math Talk with Your Kids:
- Point out numbers in everyday life-on speed limit signs, on clocks, house numbers, sale signs in the grocery store, etc.
- Count things throughout the day-number of pretzels for snack, number of books read, number of blocks in the tower (or the number of Skittles).
- Talk about the time-the time you eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, how many hours until daddy gets home, how long naptime is, etc.
- Use a calendar-discuss how many days are in the month, see the numbers in order, talk about ordinal numbers, count the number of days until a holiday or birthday, or how many days in a week.
- Check the weather-talk about the high and low temperature for the day and compare the temperatures that week
- Observe shapes-look at the shapes around you, discuss what shapes things are made up of (kids are brilliant at this!) and compare shapes.
- Cook together-discuss the measurements as you cook, and count as you add things to the bowl
- Read math picture books (or read one of the Bedtime Math books!)
- At snack time-divide snacks and discuss how many each child gets (i.e. there are 8 apple slices and 4 kids, so how many do you each get?), or discuss subtraction-how many do you have after you eat 1? 2?
- Count syllables-as you’re working on reading and language skills, count and clap the syllables in words or phrases.
- Discuss directional words-discuss things in relation to one another (behind, on top of, across, under, between, etc.).
- Ask “How many?”-this is probably the easiest habit to form-simply ask “How many?” often. “How many pieces of candy do you have?” “How many fish are in the picture?” “How many girls are in our family?” etc.
- Dream Box - Information, resources, and engaging math activities for parents to support math learning at home
- Khan Academy- videos of different math skills
- Youcube - articles to help parents support their children in math
- PBS Parents- articles, online games, and math activities
- Discovery Education- STEM activities
- Math-U-See- make math worksheet at home
- Math.Com- shows you step by step how to learn a math skill.
- Greatminds- videos, activities, and articles
- EngageNY- New York state site for parent resources in math
- Mash Up Math- great videos and activities for parents and students at home.
- Bedtime Math app -This app (similar to the books) presents a story for parents and children to read together and then poses math problems related to the story.