The Different Standards Between Math and English

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) constructed standards for Math and English Language Arts with History and Science as subsets of the ELA Literacy. This is due to both of the subjects are different to each other. Or perhaps, that’s not the actual reason at all. Literally, national standards were created for both of the subjects because math and language are regularly and internationally assessed for accountability purposes. Upon further looking deeply in comparison on the standards of both subjects, it shows an important integration of previously different style of teaching practices.

The first comparison

we’re going to look at is how the content and foundational skills of math and language arts differ from each other. In mathematical instruction, it prioritizes on teaching mathematic skills over process. While in language arts, it focused on writing and reading process over such content. The Common Core State Standards Initiative have given equal importance to both of the subjects. As a result, the Standards of Mathematical Practice bears the same importance as all the ELA Standards regarding about writing, language, speaking and listening. The 3 subsets of reading standards has emphasized the essential ELA content. These are: Foundational skills, Informational text, and Literature. Reading skills of informational text had never been prioritized before. However, in math, foundational skills of computation, statistics, and probability was always noticed and had never been overlooked.

In our second comparison

there’s more to problem solving that goes beyond solving word problems. The Common Core State Standards Initiative has classified 8 different standards of mathematical practice. In language arts, the focus on teaching reading and writing has always been the priority of the subject. However, in teaching math, it requires the same level of attention on how to deal with mathematical processes or practice. The first standard of mathematical practice addresses how students deal with such problems: “First, by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem. Second, making conjectures about the form and meaning of a solution. And finally, considering analogous problems and special cases.” This is where math has a larger role in having not to memorize such math facts repeatedly, but it’s the mathematical equivalent of reading comprehension.

Let’s say for example, you’re teaching long division. One of your students had set up an algorithm for long division using the divide-multiply-subtract-bring down process. The real problem goes down when the student is having a hard time what number to write when dividing smaller numbers. In order to help your student, you can ask him/her “what division was expecting something about the opposite of multiplication or repeated subtraction.” After focused intervention on the key concept of division, the student was able to solve the problem and improve his knowledge of multiplication facts to a concrete modeling of regrouping. Math intervention can help students to effectively navigate such math problems and solve them easily by making them focus on the relationship between numerals and quantities.

Some students during middle school and high school may be resistant of using number lines or color chips when learning new computational skills. But it’s important to shape the student’s learnings from the beginning to help them identify such problems easily between abstract models of numbers and variables. A student may ask “Why can’t I divide by 0?” By using color chips, students can see that it is really impossible to divide a quantity by 0. Another student may ask you “Why does a negative number when multiplied by a negative number will result into a positive number?”. You can explain that the positive repeated addition of a negative number would remain negative and therefore the negative repeated addition of that same number would have to be its opposite and therefore positive. Some students may follow your way of thinking at this point, but some may suffer in the simplest explanations such as: “If love is positive and hate is negative, then if you love to love or hate to hate, you’re a lover.  If you hate to love or love to hate, you’re a hater.” This is a great example of several standards of mathematical practice as well as writing and language standards:

  • Model of mathematics; Look for and make use of a structure
  • Create viable arguments and critique each other’s different reasoning
  • Research to gain and present knowledge
  • Knowledge of language; Vocabulary and acquisition and use

Remembering mathematical rules that are connected to life is easier to remember because its connected to real life experience and understanding. What’s more important is that you can encourage students to build their own explanation to develop their way of thinking than passively consuming your own reasoning.

You may see math as mostly constructed by numbers, but math is also a language that’s learned the same way any language is learned. This kind of language can be used to accurately teach mathematical relationships. Teachers like you can help students build connections by teaching them metaphors such as factor trees and pie charts and root words such as commute, associate, and distribute. When reading the decimal 0.75, you can tell them the difference between “zero point seventy-five” and “seventy five-hundredths”. The former tells them how to write the number while the latter reads the number with its name.

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