One of the points discussed was that mathematics instruction looks very different from when you or I were in school. The majority of our experiences in mathematics were focused on getting the right answers. Very little thought or attention if any were given to "the how" or "the why" we arrived at a correct answer. The depth of understanding of the math concepts we learned was very shallow. Today, we see that our students are being asked to do more than just get the right answer; students are being asked to understand how and why math concepts work. Math is now approached as a science rather than a discrete set of skills. Students are expected to go deeper with their understanding and apply mathematical processes to real-life situations in meaningful ways.
You may be asking why has the instructional approach to mathematics changed. To put it simply, the old approach was not working for the majority.
- 50% of adults are math phobic because of their poor experiences in learning math as well as their current lack of understanding. (Jo Boaler, 2012)
- The United States performed below average in mathematics in 2012 and is ranked 27th in the world. (PISA 2012 results)
- "A major challenge facing students as they pursue a postsecondary degree is a lack of academic preparedness for college-level math, evidenced by high rates of referral to developmental math and low rates of college math completion." (Michelle Hodara, 2013)
The changes in the methods of instruction can be uneasy for parents who want to help their children but are unsure of how to provide support because these methods may be new to them. It is difficult to imagine how something that we as adults do not understand could possibly lead our children to that shared vision that I mentioned earlier of wanting our students to be successful in mathematics.
Below is a video that I shared with parents during our discussion. I highly encourage you to take a moment to watch Phil Daro speak about the rationale for this shift in instruction.
For those of you who not able to attend today's "Coffee with the Principal" forum, I hope that the resources that I have provided in this write-up will give you some insight as to why math instruction looks different than you may be accustomed to. If you have general questions or concerns regarding math instruction in our district please do not hesitate to contact me. Any specific questions about your child's progress and/or class assignment/lesson should be directed toward your child's teacher who would be best equipped to provide you with that information.