Second Grade Math

I have heard from many parents who are experiencing first hand the problems with math being taught as a concept to the young child who is cognitively not ready for concepts. Math class is no longer about knowing your math facts.

Common Core changes everything about education. The percentages and the letter grades of the past are gone. In the Sioux Falls school district as with most other districts in the country, they are now using a system of one to four. One being the lowest and four being mastering the concept. That’s important. We are no longer grading young children based on knowing their math facts.  It is not that important that they know math facts. It’s more important they know the why. 

A Sioux Falls second grader was doing her homework and became exhausted with the process of always “why” or “how”. She knew what the answer was. And in her mind, this is why the answer of 25-6=19. Notice she received the lowest grade possible, even though her answer was correct. This is the math that is aligned to the Common Core. 

I’m sure we can all imagine how this little girl felt receiving such a low grade in spite of having the correct answer to the story problem. I do have to wonder how teachers feel about having to grade using this new system.  

Tell me again how the Common Core is just Standards…

Update: October 2, 2013
The parents of this child have asked if they could add a statement to the story. I am more than happy to do that. Their statement is as follows.

We are the parents of the child who answered this math problem. What is especially frustrating is that we know it is pointless to speak with the teacher about this. In fact, we LOVE this teacher, and we don’t blame her in the least for the comment she made and for the score that was given. She was simply doing what the standards and the curriculum require, whether she believes it was the right thing to do or not. We also know it would be pointless to bring our concerns to the principal, the superintendent, or anyone on the school board, unless those conversations would somehow move us closer to convincing our state to abandon its adoption of the CCSS. Short of that action being taken, it has become distressingly apparent to us that all of us on the local level are, and will continue to be, powerless to affect any change in what our children are being taught and how they will be evaluated in math and language arts.

92 thoughts on “Second Grade Math

  1. derrick, we all understand your theory– but starting and in more abstract ways is not the way to fix this problem. You need to know how to add and subtract, multiply and divide, quickly. And the "why"s of advanced math are added as you get there. Your math kids struggle because (even before common core, but in the last 20 years) kids are getting to high school without a rudimentary understanding of the basics, with no where to build algebra and geometry on. (although our local high school teaches a class called geometry but it's really an integrated math class to prepare students for the test. no proofs are done. ever) One of my own kids struggles in Algebra– she understands the why, clearly… but she spends so much time trying to figure out the answer she gives up or "hates math because math is stupid" guess what she's missing. Her "human calculator" that makes everything else easy. She's practicing her facts every day now. At 17.Amy

  2. this kid is able to solve a math problem in her head because she probably goes to school everyday, does her homework, and pays attention in class…. then she is going get a low grade for not showing her work.. how about being prepared and knowing the answer was her work… the down fall of our youth

  3. Derrick, I just want you to know that I agree with everything you have said. I am a mother of five children that are now young adults. My children were naturally average to very bright students depending on the subject/child, but they are very successful (seriously) and very well liked and in the work force and in college they excel very quickly. I always believed that getting their homework done was important, but believed teach children how to think was more important! There are problem solving techniques that can be applied to any issue/problem/situation… That kind of teaching (in any area of life) takes time, discussion, seeing-the-whole picture, and self-awareness as well as reviewing the consequences and then noticing other like situations. This effort and focus is SO worth it overtime and during everday parenting (much like teaching methods within Common Core Math). Academics will come. However, a child that learns the why and how to think along the way also has the ability to be a flexible and creative thinker! Resulting in a mature, sound, and confident person possessing the endurance to stay with something that's hard because even if they don't quite understand the problem, they can begin the process of problem solving by applying creativity and proven processes/facts. I help tutor children at school through the resource program and I agree that Common Core Math is tough, but sometimes it's easy. I also see how one year's lessons lead into the next and bridges and connections are made and problem solving abilitites increase overtime. As parents, we were not taught the detailed steps of problem solving through math and often our brains are lost on the subject. Never-the-less, it's not mind control!!!! Just because math wasn't taught this way in the past doesn't mean it's wrong. When children receiving resource services have a hard time understanding concepts, it has to be further defined into logical and concrete steps (my job everyday). Common Core Math actually does that and we're not used to it. Often parents we feel uncomfortable when they don't "get it" and jump to exaggerated conclusions about it's purposes. That doesn't mean that overtime our kids can't get it and just maybe it will be to their advantage!

  4. OK so why don't all of you geniuses in support of this 'new thinking' tell us how you would answer the question. I haven't seen anyone give the explanation yet. As someone said earlier, the question only asked for the correct answer, not an explanation. I think the kid should have gotten 5 points. 4 for the CORRECT answer, and 1 bonus point for the excellent sketch of the 'brane.'

  5. Derrick Knight you are aware that this article is speaking about a 2nd grader. Do YOUR math and figure out how old this little girl is. 7 maybe 8. Do you really stop and think about how developed a 2nd graders mind is and how they cannot grasp concepts such as how they came to the conclusion that 25 – 6 is indeed 19. It is 100 percent irrelevant at the age of SEVEN the concepts behind math. She didn't need to know that. Hell I can't explain concepts behind math at 31 years old. That does not mean that I don't know them though. I borrowed 6 apples from Tim in 2nd grade too and it left him with 19 apples. There is nothing wrong with the way math was taught and 2nd graders minds simply are NOT developed enough to learn "concepts"

  6. I am agreeing with Bentley. Obviously this child has a "math brain" and the answers come easy for him/her. If the teacher wants the kids to know the whole reason why the answer is that way, that is their job to teach it and include in the question: "Show your work". Or ""Show how you come to that conclusion". Dear teacher: Show how you expect this child to read your mind.

  7. They still have 25 apples, six of them are in the Pie. Or was there a total of 50 apples to start with? Kira AND Franco had 25 apples, but it does not say if that was 25 apples each or total between the 2 of them. Then they used 6 apples to make the pie. But it says nothing about the apples that were rotten and had to be thrown away, or if more apples were still needed because the pie was not completely filled. And since they ask how many apples they have "now" does not give a time reference between when the pie was made and when "now" is. They may have gotten hungry waiting for the pie to bake (which is assumed, since no cooking instructions were given for making said pie), and they may have eaten some of the apples. "Now" could also be hours/days/weeks/months/years later. I am quite sure that they would not keep apples around for years. So this question can not be answered due to the lack of information required to answer it.

  8. A 1 out of 4 regardless the reason is unacceptable when getting the answer right. They should get atleast a passing grade… You can't really explain that one on paper anyway… They shouldn't have to explain them at this level or age… The concept should come later with harder questions that require atleast a couple more (possibly confusing) steps.. The whole point to explaining the step is to find out who's struggling/in need of help. If they get it right and have proven that they have no problem with it, they shouldn't have to explain it step by step unless they messed up and need to figure out where they messed up…

  9. Derrick Knight, exactly what is your career? You sound like one of these administrators or directors that tries to justify this new crap. How do you know they get stuck in algebra because they don't remember the so-called "monkey steps". People have been using those "monkey steps" for hundreds of years and they learned algebra just fine.

  10. Derrick is obvious you have no clue about teachers. It is plainly evident that you are one of these educational reformers but don't understand dick. I don't know any teacher that just passes out assignments without explaining or modeling the task at hand. In fact, you go into the average teacher's classroom you will see posters, graphic organizers, and such explaining how to think critically. Again, what is it that you do for a living? You are obviously not a classroom teacher judging by your lack of knowledge of teachers but you do sound like a brainwashed administrator that has no clue on how children learn.

  11. Linda, I went to the link you provided and I saw a woman who may be a professor at Illinois State since she's in Normal but I found nothing about Common Core. Please enlighten.

  12. As a fourth grade teacher, my Math TE once said: Imagine …. Picture …. for one lesson I was to teach the next day. The lesson covered finding parts of a whole.Example: What is 2/3 of 18? Find 2/5 of 20 and so on. The concept works great with whole numbers but what about an answer with "remainders"?The TE confused me, the teacher, with the explanation. Because I've always been a good Math student, the answers always just "popped" into my head. Even as I sat at my desk that afternoon, I was unsure how I automatically knew the answers of 12 and 8. With timed tests, it isn't always feasible to break 18 into 3 equal groups as the TE suggested and count how many are in two of those groups … espy cially if you're required to find 3/4 of 280. I realized I was dividing "in my head" by the denominator in the fraction and multiplying that quotient by the numerator of the fraction. but I knew the answer so fast, even as a kid, I couldn't have explained "how" I arrived at the answer.This appears to be the young lady's frustration, as well.My high school Alg I students were always amazed that I could arrive at many answers "in my head" before they had even taken the cover off their calculators. It is more important to THINK but if the skills aren't there in the first place, you are lost.Worst thing I heard from another Alg I teacher? A student went for his calculator when asked, for the sum of -3 + 0. Very sad.This is my first year in retirement. I never thought I would retire at 60. I expected to teach another 3-5 years ….

  13. In all fairness to the teacher, the directions to "Explain how you got (arrived at) your answer," would have been printed at the top of the worksheet.

  14. You are probably right…and I'm not blaming the teacher at all. The teacher has to do what she/he is told which is exactly why we need to stop this train wreck. I still haven't seen anyone offer the 4 point 'correct' answer. Math is math and facts are facts. Some students are better at it than others. This process seems to make it more difficult for the ones who are naturally good at math. I'm frustrated because I couldn't help my SECOND GRADER with his math yesterday. Not because the problems were difficult, but because the way they wanted it all broken down wasn't clearly explained.

  15. Derrick Knight – Please shut up, let’s not turn adding 5 apples plus 6 apples equal 11 apples into a major task for a second grade student. The child needs to know that if you add 5 and 6 you get 11. If you come up with any other answer, you are wring. If this child grows up and can’t add then they are in trouble. You are a perfect example of liberal so some one so in love with idealism that you totally live in denial regarding the negative consequences of your ideals. I have a child in 6th grade and I see this crap in her homework every day and it is ridiculous. If you haven’t noticed our education system is steadily going down hill despite, or rather because of liberal ideology. Common Core needs to be eliminated. PS, Derrick stop drinking the Kool-Aid

  16. Joey, choosing to support your opinion with crudeness isn't necessary. Besides, if your point is valid why attach the sarcasm? One person's opinion isn't any more important than another's because they are both opinions. Could the right way be a better blend of both ways? Obviously our educational system has been lacking for a long time so our past experiences in our country's educational system don't really qualify us to identify a better system. What and how are they teaching the children in countries that have thriving students? Do you have an opinion on that Joey or anyone else?

  17. From the Book of General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab)' of the collection of Sunan Abu-Dawud: 'Narrated Anas ibn Malik: I served the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) at Medina for ten years. I was a boy. Every work that I did was not according to the desire of my master, but he never said to me: Fie, nor did he say to me: Why did you do this? or Why did you not do this? 'It always dawned on me after learning about the above that if ever I said "why" it was always because either I was being conflicting or I didn't know at all. And to me, the Common Core method is specifically to learn how children think. But if they use their memory, then they're to be chastised. And attacking memory and forcing people into theory really hinders business thinking. When doing business, you need instant math. Theoretical math is not even numbers, but grammar, logic and rhetoric. Anyone who went to a grammar school would realise that.

  18. Well Derrick is missing the larger point in all of this which is, at the end of the day it doesn't matter what Derrick or anyone else thinks about what is or is not effective, once fully invested in Common Core all of this will be decided in Washington, by burecrats who most of which are not even educators.Derrick your local input and thoughts will not matter, becuase the people in Washington know better than you and everyone else in Sioux Falls and South Dakota how to educate our kids. So, you may agree with some of what CCSS is promoting today, but what about tomorrow?

  19. this teacher did not say she had to explain her work in words which i'm sure a 2nd grader couldn't do. She said show your work, this was homework, this teacher has no idea if the 2nd grader cheated and used a calculator if there is no work shown. No work shown no credit, that was the rule 20 years ago when I was in 2nd grade and the rule seems to have gotten softer not harder.

  20. i get it. explain your steps so we know that the child didn't just memorize a table of addition and subtraction. i used to get frustrated in high school because i was very good at math, but i would have points taken off in algebra if i didn't show every single step in a long equation, even though sometimes it was ridiculous little things such as distributing a negative sign into some parentheses. but it was only a fraction of points, because i still came up with the correct answer, so, yeah, i agree with yvonna simnitt. a grade of 1 out of 4 when the child came up with the right answer is unacceptable. what did they give a student who attempted to use "borrowing" and still came up with a wrong answer? a 4? and what does that teach them? it doesn't matter if you're right, as long as you try? one day, when that kid grows up and is working at a gas station, they're going to give me incorrect change and argue with me when i try to correct them. or, when my total is $9.96, and i give them $10.01, they say, "oh you gave me too much," and hand me back my penny and four more and don't understand why i'm an adult in my 30's, i don't use the borrowing concept anymore. my thought process is more like "how many more until the next set of tens? 5? ok that leaves me with 20 and still one more to subtract, so 19." if the 7 year old child in question thinks like this, it may be difficult to put that into words, but she still did it in her head because this is such a simple problem, like the steps i would skip writing out in long equations. if you want to see if she understands the concept of borrowing, give bigger problems. either way, i reeeeally don't think she has memorized an addition/subtraction table all the way up into the 20's, and i don't think a "1" was a fair grade. i also know from experience that giving extremely bad grades to a good student who doesn't deserve it will cause them to give up altogether

  21. yeah, that is what I expected and that is totally and completely fair. That is also not new, again we had to do that in 2nd grade TWENTY years ago. I really don't see why people are getting so upset, how else is the teacher supposed to know that this child understands the question. If I had given that answer in second grade I would have gotten a zero so a one was actually quite generous in my book

  22. The teacher is a servant paid for by taxpayers to serve the child. He/She works for the child. The child has no obligation to be probed or or faulted for giving the right answer. It's this fundamental point that all of you miss. Somehow, because you were born into this backwards system, you think children are pawns of the state that have nothing more interesting to do than sit in a chair and jump through hoops for blob workers.

  23. Why is "15 – 6 = 9" OK to do in your head, but not "25 – 6 = 19"? It's like borrowing 10 from the 25, just so we can put the 10 back a second later? I don't get that, and I don't think it's unreasonable for the 2nd grader to not get that either.

  24. There may be right and wrong answers in math (sometimes that's not even the case, though), but there is ever rarely a right or wrong way to do a problem. Generally speaking, there are several methods that will lead to a correct solution (if one exists) and there are infinitely many methods that will lead to an incorrect solution. The method any given student (or person) should use is the one that (s)he understands. Now, what does exist are eloquent and efficient solutions, which I always tell my students for which to strive. Telling a student the method (s)he should use to solve a problem takes all of the learning away from the student…IMO.

  25. What is really sad is that those taught to be educators believe the BS reasons for teaching it this way. They consider themselves the experts, even though the US system sucks and is at its worse in math.

  26. FYI: I am not supporting Common Core, I am supporting this type of math curriculum (which is identical or very similar to Cognitive Guided Instruction…look it it up if you haven't heard of it…I hadn't until my wife took a professional development class in it many years ago and I had a chance to try using it my remedial college math courses). CGI isn't some liberal thought experiment, it is backed by a great deal of research (unlike most of the "reform" efforts that go hand-in-hand with common core to privatize our public education system). I understand your points about lack of input in common core, though I think you are blaming the wrong Washington…..Bill Gates is far more in control of Common Core than anyone in D.C.

  27. Oh the irony (again). You speak of encouraging students to use their own methods to solve problems and condemn single-method teaching. So you really should be on board with this type of math for which there is no single "correct" method as opposed to "traditional" math in which "show your work" means "use the exact algorithm I taught you whether it makes any sense to you or not."

  28. I think the point is that the student has no obligation to prove himself to a probing government worker. It's a human rights violation, if you ask me…

  29. Probing the minds of students is practically the very definition of good teaching. If you want your kids to learn passively, sign them up for an on-line school. Nothing makes corporate reformers happier than replacing a teacher with a computer screen.

  30. And it continues in third grade. This is why we have parents, to assist their children with their math, science, and reading skills. It is great that children are finally learning the concepts of math, not purely doing math by using their fingers but not understanding the true concept of the equation. My daughter was in second grade last year and did very well with explaining her work, because I worked with her each night with her homework. Now in the 3rd grade, my daughter is doing algebra by finding the missing value, times tables and division and they she must show their work, which means she can do this by explaining how she arrived at the answer or draw it out with a diagram. I believe most parent don't like this because it forces parents to get more involved in helping their children.

  31. I'll take a shot. This is a base 10 problem. We have only 9 digits of any kind that I can count. I knew that I needed 4 units to get to 10. The difference between 10 and 25 is 15. Fifteen plus 4 = 19. I know I'm not a genius. I also know that learning the logic behind mathematics makes it easy for me. ;0)

  32. Because 6 is greater than 5, you need to take 1 away from the tens section, and subtract 6 from 15. This gives 9. Since the tens section is already reduced from 2 to 1, 25-6 is 19.

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