Here’s another useful radio story about how well the Common Core works when it’s allowed to:
…In Defuniak Springs in Florida’s panhandle, the third graders at West Defuniak Elementary are learning division. Specifically, 72 divided by six. Their teacher, Casi Adkinson draws circles onto the board.
Casi Adkinson, a third grade teacher at West Defuniak Elementary, listens to a student explain her work during a small group session. Adkinson says the Common Core standards emphasize that students explain their thinking in math and English language arts.
“I share my 72 into my six circles,”said Adkinson. ” Are we ready to do that together? Ready? 1,2,3,4,5…”
With the class counting along, Adkinson draws 72 marks, grouped into six separate circles.
“Ok, I shared my 72,” she said. “What do I do next? Alaya?”
“Oh! You count how many there are in the six circles,” the student responds.
By the time the lesson is over, the class finished only four problems.
“I know to some people, they might think ‘that’s not many problems, I’d want to cover 20.’ It doesn’t matter if you cover 20 problems if they don’t understand why they’re doing it,” Adkinson said.
The idea of ‘less is more’ has permeated West Defuniak Elementary since 2011. That’s when the school began to phase in the new Common Core standards with its youngest students. The standards lay out what students are expected to learn from kindergarten through twelfth grade. That’s led to big changes in this rural district. Students are reading more non-fiction, and must use evidence to back up written responses. In math, students have to learn more than one way to solve the same problem, and they must explain their methods.
“To solve it I drew one big circle and I put the number nine in it and I know we’re dividing by three so I put three groups and then I counted to nine and made them all equal and it equaled three,” says Ava, 8.