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NYC Helpline: How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

How to Implement the New Math Standards, Part II
Arlyne LeSchack

The three components - conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and problem solving - that I wrote about in the last article are not independent. Each of them is necessary for a student to become mathematically proficient. The components are related, they must be taught together and they should be part of every mathematics lesson.
 How to Implement the New Math Standards, Part I How to Implement the New Math Standards, Part II How to Implement the New Math Standards, Part III How to Implement the New Math Standards, Part IV

The New York State Mathematics Standards state that students will:

• understand concepts and become proficient in mathematical skills
• communicate and reason mathematically
• become problem solvers using appropriate tools and strategies

Meeting these standards will happen through the integrated study of number sense and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and statistics and probability. Mathematics needs to be viewed as a body of knowledge, not as a set of individual components. The New York State assessments, as required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal legislation, will provide data measuring student progress towards mathematical proficiency. These state assessments will measure conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and problem solving.

The three components are represented in process strands and content strands:

The Process Strands are:

1. Problem Solving
2. Reasoning and Proof
3. Communication
4. Connections
5. Representations

These show that students are acquiring and using content knowledge. These process strands help us to see mathematics as a discipline rather than a set of isolated skills, they giving meaning to mathematics. Students engagement in the content of mathematics is accomplished through these process strands. An example of a lesson that emphasized the process strands would be students reading a table and creating their own graph. Students will gain a better knowledge of mathematics and be able to retain their mathematical knowledge longer as they use it to solve problems, reason mathematically, prove mathematical relationships, make mathematical connections and model and represent mathematical ideas in a variety of ways.

The Content Strands are:

1. Number Sense and Operations
2. Algebra
3. Geometry
4. Measurement
5. Statistics and Probability

This the content that students should learn. The mathematics curriculum taught in each school and each classroom should include this content. It should be taught in an integrated fashion so that students see how various disciplines are related within mathematics and to the real world. Examples of lessons that emphasize the content strand would be skip counting, computation, alegebra equations, measuring with a ruler etc. Further, the instruction should engage students in construction of this knowledge and integrate conceptual understanding and problem solving as well.

In Part III I will discuss the Performance Indicators. In the meantime if you have any questions about implementing the new mathematics standards, please contact me at aleschack@aol.com.