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Parents Ask: Why Does Math Look Different These Days?

Math looks different these days

When you visit your child’s mathematics classroom, it may look different from what you remember. 2 apples + 2 apples still equals 4 apples, and 7 x 8 is still 56, but now you’re likely to see students counting real apples instead of just seeing them in a book. The math hasn’t changed, but how we look at it has.

We want ALL students to realize that math is more than adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. We want children to be able to connect math to their everyday lives. We know that every child is capable of achieving in math topics such as geometry, data and statistics, algebra, and measurement – topics we’ve traditionally thought of as only accessible to some.

My child’s teacher says that the mathematics curriculum is problem-based. What does that mean?

Teachers are now designing mathematical tasks that ask students to think deeply about math and how math is part of their real lives. The problems students encounter won’t be the two problems at the end of the lesson page that we all remember, but they’ll be “real” problems that use math in a “real way”. It may be a problem that takes the children an hour, or perhaps several, to solve. There may be multiple ways to solve the problem and it won’t have a very obvious solution. Mathematicians enjoy the challenge of solving hard problems. We want your children to enjoy this too.

My child’s homework is so different from what I did in school. How do I help?

Today’s homework is different, and the amount may be different too. Today’s teachers know that practice is still important, and students will continue to do that. However, we also know from research that students need activities and tasks that ask them to delve deeper into the concepts and content of mathematics. Because of this, there may be fewer problems assigned, but these problems will require students to think more deeply about math and make connections to math in their own lives.