The “New” Math
Many parents have mentioned that they do not understand the math we are doing at school. The math, of course, isn’t new. But our approach to math has shifted from procedural to conceptual. Years ago, the emphasis on math was mostly procedural. We taught children the process - standard algorithm - for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We tended to skip over much of the conceptual understanding that builds number sense. Of course we still teach algorithm. But we want to build number sense too.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
999 + 999 =
Formerly, we would have the students stack these numbers on top of each other and use standard algorithm (with regrouping) to add them together.
Today, we would want students to notice that each of those numbers is one less than 1,000. Therefore, we would want students to think 1,000 + 1,000 = 2,000. Now subtract 2 (one from each thousand) for the answer: 1,998.
Here is another example:
25 x 29 =
In the past, we would have taught children to use algorithm to solve this problem. (And we still do teach algorithm.) However, with some number sense, this is a mental math problem (children can use what they know about counting quarters):
25 x 29 Think: that’s close to 25 x 30
Think 25 x 3 = 75, so 25 x 30 = 750
Therefore 25 x 29 = is one less group of 25
750 - 25 = 725
Today, virtually everyone carries a cell phone, and virtually every cell phone has a built-in calculator. While we still teach calculation, the truth is that it is less important in today’s world. What IS important is problem solving and the underlying number sense (and reading comprehension) you need to be a successful problem solver.
I will try to send regular emails explaining what we are doing in math and how we are doing it.