Originally created 04/25/06

The new new math



Columbia County sixth-graders took a new state-mandated math test last week that favored concept over computation.

A new Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in sixth-grade math reflected the changes wrought by the first-year implementation of the Georgia Performance Standards. The more rigorous GPS replaced the Quality Core Curriculum math in sixth grade this school year.

"It's much more in-depth thinking and less superficial number-crunching," said Lakeside Middle School sixth-grade math teacher Dorcas Powell, who trained other sixth-grade faculty members in the system on how to teach the new curriculum.

"Our concern is that students really understand the concepts of math," she said.

"That's become more important than just being able to compute."

Current sixth-graders will face the new GPS math curriculum in seventh grade and then eighth grade. The new math curriculum will continue to be implemented at a higher grade level each until the GPS is fully integrated in sixth through 12th grades.

The CRCT and the Georgia High School Graduation Tests will reflect the changes to the curriculum as it is implemented into the higher grades.

Mike Lindsey, the system's director of middle school learning, said he is awaiting test results.

"We've heard it's a difficult test," he said. "We're anxious about it. We're anxious to see how they're going to do."

CRCT results for sixth-graders won't determine a pupil's promotion, as it will in the eighth grade. A poor showing on the CRCT, however, could jeopardize a school's ability to make adequate yearly progress as outlined by the No Child Left Behind law.

Despite such perils, Mr. Lindsey and Ms. Powell said the new math is a positive step.

"It's definitely the right way to go," Ms. Powell said. "It's just going to be difficult for the next couple of years as everyone has to change. For some teachers, they are having to learn new material."

Currently, seventh-grade teachers are learning the GPS curriculum.

Some fifth-grade teachers are also learning the new standards to prepare their pupils for the math challenges they will face in the sixth grade, Mr. Lindsey said.

Ms. Powell, a former teacher in North Carolina, said the GPS is based on curricula taught in Michigan and Texas. Those models, in turn, are based on Japanese methods of math instruction.

"A lot of what they're doing is what's called performance tasks," she said.

"Those tasks require them to read some very complicated information, decipher that information, analyze what's needed and then act upon that to answer a series of questions."

Mr. Lindsey said it's a new model for math instruction.

"Math is totally different now," he said. "We're answering the question: 'Why do I have to learn this?' We're putting it into a practical application."

Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 109, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

THE SCHOOL CARNIVAL TASK


The local elementary school is planning its annual fall carnival. You and your team members have been chosen to help in the planning process. You have been given several problems to solve in order to help the carnival committee make the event run smoothly. For each of the problems, be sure to respond to each item completely. Show all work where needed, and provide complete sentences in explanations. Partial answers will result in partial credit.

Question 1


The carnival committee needs to arrange a total of 36 booths for the event. If they want to set the booths up in the form of a rectangle, what are all of the possible arrangements the committee can make? Explain how you got your answer.

Question 2


There will be two cake walks at the carnival. Mrs. Blake wants to run a cake walk every 18 minutes, while Mr. Carter wants to run his every 24 minutes. The two cake walks begin together at 11 a.m.


a) At what time will both cake walks begin again simultaneously? How do you know?


b) When is the next time they will begin at the top of the hour? (beginning of an hour; e.g., 11)


c) If the carnival ends at 6 p.m., how many times will the cake walks begin simultaneously (including the 11 a.m. time)?


ANSWERS


1) Explanation: The possible arrangements are derived from finding all of the factors that multiply to get 36. Possible arrangements could be 1x36 2x18, 3x12, 4x9, 6x6.


2a) The cake walks will begin together again at 12:12 p.m. How do you know? Well, student explanations will vary, but most will use the least common multiple between 18 and 24 because they understand that the easiest. The way to solve this type of problem is to find the smallest number that both 18 and 24 will divide into evenly (72) and add it (as minutes) back to 11 a.m. Some students will make a list of times and stop when the times are the same. Any method used is acceptable as long as they explain.


2b) 5 p.m.


2c) Five times