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Home / Newsletters / November 5, 2017 GMLS Division Newsletter / Challenge Minds: Math in Focus

Challenge Minds: Math in Focus

Growing up in the US, many of us were taught arithmetic in school. But things have changed. No longer is learning arithmetic sufficient for becoming college and career ready.

At the heart of our math program, Math in Focus, is mathematical problem-solving. That means focusing on the development of children’s abilities to solve problems in many different ways – some of which may look unfamiliar to you as a parent. As students go on to higher level mathematics, the students will be equipped with a deep conceptual understanding of how numbers work and will be able to generalize this understanding to solve new and novel kinds of problems.

This approach to teaching math starts in the youngest grades and continues into the middle school (via the companion Go Math program). Take a look at this first grader’s math journal. It is a good example of how students must know and demonstrate different problem-solving strategies.

Given a word problem, the child used a number bond, a ten-frame, a number line and a standard equation (four different methods) to solve a math word problem. In a similar exercise, the child was given a picture from which she created her own word problem and then solved it in multiple ways.

It’s no longer good enough to memorize rules, such as “Change the sign of the subtrahend and add.” Students today must deeply understand why and how mathematical rules and procedures like this work. This type of higher level of mathematical learning stretches and challenges our students intellectually, while preparing them for advanced math in high school, college and beyond.

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