I went all the way through calculus in my K-12 education, but I must admit that I only came to a deeper understanding of mathematics when I had to teach it to second graders, which was my first teaching position. At that level, I had to really learn to break it down.
Fortunately, I was able to work with a master teacher on my grade level team who helped me understand both the procedures and the concepts, including difficult concepts such as place value.
It’s funny, because in reading, if a student can read a story but can’t understand what the story was about, we wouldn’t be satisfied with that student’s progress as a reader. We would say the student’s fluency is strong, but not their comprehension.
With math, though, there seems to be a persistent assumption that doing the procedures correctly and getting correct answers is good enough.
I’ve said this before, but at Kennydale, it isn’t good enough. Procedural fluency is important, but it doesn’t mean a student fully comprehends the math.
This is why we also challenge students to demonstrate their understanding in multiple ways, to talk about math processes, and to practice many strategies for solving problems. We want students to be able to apply math to real life situations, to use math to construct strong arguments, and to be able to think critically about the numbers swirling around us every day.
Because we are challenging our students in this way, you may sometimes struggle with helping your Kodiaks at home because, like me, you may have only learned procedures in school. Rather than get frustrated, I encourage you to connect with your child’s teacher for tips on how you can help at home so you can be a partner in our focus on math this year.