MATH IN OUR CLASSROOM

Parents-   I know you have been hearing a great deal about the Common Core State Standards and the changes we are making to meet these new challenging expectations.  This article published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education nicely explains the changes you will see in Mathematics teaching as we switch from the Illinois State Standards to the Common Core State Standards.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  

Click the picture above to read the full article from the Harvard Education Letter.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD WITH MATH AT HOME?

The following is an article from familyeducation.com

Top 10 Ways to Help Your Kids Do Well in Math

by Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Mastering Math
Mastering mathematics is absolutely essential for future opportunities in school and careers. Your children will need to reach a certain level of competency in math to take many advanced high-school courses, to be admitted to college, and to have a wide variety of career choices. Here’s how you can help them maximize their math-smarts.

1. Make sure your children understand mathematical concepts.
Otherwise, math becomes a meaningless mental exercise of just memorizing rules and doing rote drills. Have your children manipulate objects to figure out basic concepts. For addition, they could add one, two, or more blocks to a pile of blocks and then tell you how many blocks are in the pile.

2. Help them master the basic facts.
Mastery of a basic fact means that children can give an answer in less than three seconds. Considerable drill is required for children to give quick responses. Use flash cards to help your children learn the basic facts. When they don’t know an answer, have them lay out objects to solve the problem.

3. Teach them to write their numbers neatly.
Twenty-five percent of all errors in solving math problems can be traced back to sloppy number writing. Improve your children’s number-writing skills by having them trace over numbers that you have written. Suggest they use graph paper to keep the numbers in problems neatly aligned.

4. Provide help immediately when your children need it.
Math is one subject in which everything builds upon what has been previously learned. For example, a failure to understand the concept of percent leads to problems with decimals. If a teacher is unable to help your children, provide the help yourself or use a tutor or learning center.

5. Show them how to handle their math homework.
Doing math homework reinforces the skills your children are learning in class. Teach them to begin every assignment by studying the textbook or worksheet examples. Then have them redo the examples before beginning the assignment to make sure they understand the lesson.

6. Encourage your children to do more than the assigned
problems.

Considerable practice is necessary for your children to hone their math skills. If the teacher only assigns the even problems, having them do some of the odd ones will strengthen their skills. The more time your children spend practicing their skills, the sooner they will develop confidence in their abilities.

Walt Disney Magnet School has provided your child with subscriptions to math practice websites. See “Homework Links” in the sidebar to connect. Student passwords are added to their red folder as sites are introduced.

7. Explain how to solve word problems.
Mathematicians have an expression: To learn to solve problems, you must solve problems. Teach your children to read a word problem several times. Also, have them draw a picture or diagram to describe it. Make it easier for them to understand the steps in a problem by teaching them to substitute smaller numbers for larger ones.

8. Help your children learn the vocabulary of mathematics.
They will never get a real feeling for math or learn more advanced concepts without an understanding of its vocabulary. Check that your children can define new terms. If not, have them use models and simple problems to show you they understand how the term is used.

9. Teach them how to do math “in their head.”
One of the major ways to solve problems is by using mental math. Kids should use this method frequently instead of using pencil and paper or a calculator. When helping your children with a problem, help them determine when it would be appropriate to use mental math.

10. Make mathematics part of your children’s daily life.
Mathematics will become more meaningful when your kids see how important it is in so many real-life situations. Encourage them to use math in practical ways. For example, ask them to space new plants a certain distance apart, double a recipe, and pay bills in stores.

Supporting Your Future Scientist

Parents-

llinois is among the 26 lead states that have worked collaboratively to update science standards, called Next Generation Science Standards, under the guidance of Achieve, Inc.  (source: ISBE) These internationally-benchmarked standards provide a new vision for K-12 science and engineering education and set the stage for a significant shift in how those subjects may be viewed and taught in Illinois and across the nation. The following is an excerpt from Scientific American blog explaining these changes that I thought you may find helpful. Click on the blue title to read the full article.

Why America’s Kids Need New Standards for Science Education

By Anna Kuchment | January 8, 2013 |

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a comprehensive set of K-12 student “performance expectations” for the areas of Earth and space science, life science, and physical science. They integrate concepts of engineering and technology and develop ties to the math and English “Common Core” standards.

Simply put, the NGSS will revolutionize science education for most of the country, at least for the states that choose to adopt them. Though they contain the latest and most up-to-date findings of science, their strength lies in incorporating the latest and most up-to-date advances in pedagogy and educational research. The NGSS move away from presenting science as a list of facts to be memorized and present science as a set of practices to be done. In fact, every grade-appropriate performance expectation, each sentence, ties together a particular science content with a science practice; you cannot pull the content out into a list of factoids.

The aim of NGSS is to identify what students can do, not what they know. After all, if you want to know how many planets there are, you can always look that up on the web. If you want to understand why they are important and how they function as part of a system, the solar system, then there are a set of practices you should do, which the NGSS identify as (1) Asking Questions and Defining Problems, (2) Developing and Using Models, (3) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, (4) Analyzing and Interpreting Data, (5) Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, (6) Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, (7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and (8) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD AT HOME?

The following is an excerpt from the National Science Teachers Association Parent Resource:

Set High Expectations

What you say to your child is important. But what may be even more important is what you don’t say.

Parents often convey their attitudes and expectations in indirect ways. If you tell your children, “I never liked science in school” or “I got my worst grades in science,” you convey the expectation that science classes will be boring or difficult, or worse, that you would accept low performance in science. On the other hand, if you say, “I wish I could do that experiment with you” or “I’m so glad that you are having opportunities that I missed,” you will open doors for your children.

Not every child, of course, is destined to seek a career in science. But every child should be able to become a scientifically literate adult, and all children should know that if they choose science as a career, they can succeed. Parental expectations can encourage positive attitudes and personal best.

Don’t forget, too, that girls are every bit as curious as boys are about science. Buy your daughter that tool kit. And remember that science is often “messy.” Recognize the difference between clutter that comes from enthusiastic activity and the sloppy piles that result from neglect.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Encourage your child to take things apart! Old toys, clocks, and household appliances are great lessons—and don’t worry about putting them back together!
  • Don’t forget about safety. Supervise young children as needed.
  • Discuss science and technology careers. When you encounter people in science-related careers, encourage your children to ask questions about these jobs and the training needed for them.
  • Explore informal education sites. Science centers, museums, and natural science institutions give children the chance to make independent discoveries and participate in scientific processes while having fun.
  • Check out science-related library books and read them together. NSTA publishes a list of outstanding children’s science trade books for kindergarten through 12th-grade students selected by a book review panel appointed by NSTA and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).
  • Encourage children to explore awards programs and competitions that bolster science learning in the classroom.

Click the picture above to visit the NSTA website and to read more about helping your future scientist.