In this literature review, HFOSS students were asked to review the education standards for New York State’s mathematics curriculae. This is in preparation for our final project.
The New York State Next Generation Mathematics Learning Standards reflect the mathematic standards of New York State. They are, “designed to support student access to the knowledge and understanding of the mathematical concepts that are necessary to function in a world very dependent upon the application of mathematics, while providing educators the opportunity to devise innovative programs to support this endeavor” (pp. 3).
Published by the New York State Department of Education, you can find the 2017 standards, here.
Another document focused specifically on the Grade 4 standards can be found here.
These standards were last revised in 2017.
For this particular review, students were asked to look at the overview for Grade 4 instruction. Essentially, the pedagogical focus of this section established focus around three areas:
- (1) Fluency with multi-digit multiplication and division.
- (2) Familiarity with fraction arithmetic.
- (3) Understanding of geometric figures and properties such as angles, perpendicularity, and symmetry.
The standards provide detailed definitions that plainly lay out expectations of academic progress for students. Examples are clearly presented beside each entry of mathematical content.
The nature of standards to be exact and precise lends itself to being verbose. While this might be useful for identifying what an instructor needs to include when creating curriculum for the classroom, it’s takes a moment to grab the important information. Sections, like the one with a note on procedural fluency on page 59, are written in ways that make the purpose unclear. You might end up halfway through a paragraph before realizing it’s a redundant passage or is simply offering a lengthy ‘precise’ definition for a term that should have been defined earlier in the standard.
This, however, is something that academia suffers from and is not unique to this mathematics standard. The language used is complex and can definitely be simplified, often feeling like a form of ‘legalese’. This makes the writing less accessible to people who simply want to know what type of math needs to be taught to grade schoolers.
What are some example problems that students would have to solve for a particular mathematical concept?
Are some problems more suited than others for teaching the subject at hand? As an example, are visual exercises with models and diagrams easier for students learning fraction arithmetic over word problems? Are both types necessary? If so, does the final product need to anticipate including them?
In this particular case, the take away is that Grade 4 students are expected to engage with fractional math and deal with multiplication/division arithmetic. For the final product, an activity on the Sugar platform that engages students with fractional math exercises may be a great choice of focus.
A visual representation of fraction multiplication and division might be one direction for an educational game. Another learning activity might deal with geometric properties and concepts. When coming up with a final project proposal for the course, referencing these mathematical practices will be helpful, making the standard an invaluable resource for that purpose.