For most people years removed from classroom math, geometry is geometry – whatever they might remember about it.
What’s changing is the presentation of geometry – as well as algebra and more – and how students can understand it with more proficiency and realize its place in the real world.
High school math teachers from Aiken County and neighboring school districts spent four days at USC Aiken for a workshop this week, exploring the new Common Core standards. The instructors were Gloria Allen, the professional learning coordinator at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, and Bobby Cue, a math specialist there.
Common Core is a new set of academic standards in all content areas that is revolutionary. Those standards have been adapted by nearly all 50 states – a process driven by states, not the federal government.
“It’s a good vehicle to move students to a much higher level of understanding, said Jennifer Dusenberry, a South Aiken High School math teacher.
The revamped standards and the process of teaching them are intended to move students even farther from rote answers on math problems.
Through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, teachers in grades three to 11 overall can see how effectively they are providing their students with extending thinking and solving problems.
“They can take those concepts and procedures to real-world applications,” Allen said. “The idea is that, eventually, all the students will be exposed to content that’s not just common (to South Carolina), but common throughout the U.S.”
Common Core was fully introduced in all grades in Aiken County a year ago – earlier than most other districts. The district will do so again in 2013-14 before students are formally assessed at the state level in 2015.
“Common Core is a documentation with breadth and depth,” Dusenbury said. “Our students can speak the language of mathematics and seeing that at an earlier age. They will answer the question of why they do it and how to apply algebra with geometry.”
Two years ago, the Aiken School District introduced Common Core to grades K to two before bringing in all grades last year. Allen acknowledged that the younger students will be exposed to Common Core for many years as they move toward high school. Current high school students didn’t have that opportunity.
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.