My main, number one, burning hot issue with common
core, is the alienation of parents in the curriculum. The
"you can't possibly understand the intricacy of what we're
doing with your child" tone of the math roll out. But here's
the thing, if my fourth grader can understand this and
embrace it, why can't I?
Take the array. An array is simply a grid which is
colored in to represent mathematical situations.
The array is used in many different configurations in
this "new" math world. It can be used for multiplication,
division,fractions, square numbers, square roots, decimals,
and factors. Oh, there are more ways to use it than that,
but these are just from the top of my head. In short,
arrays are a simple but versatile visual math tool.
They can be expanded to larger multiplication problems to
demonstrate the commutative property of multiplication.
The purpose of the array above it to try and demonstrate
how more difficult multiplication problems can be broken
down to easier products, which are added together.
Is it successful? Well, that depends on how you learn.
No one-sized method fits all.
Here is an example of arrays being used to show
equivalent fractions. Again, a visual method to teach
what, in the past, was taught with numbers.
I primarily see arrays in elementary school, but they do
pop up in middle school. They can be used to demonstrate
the concept of square numbers and square roots, for
(There is a rather beautiful introduction to the Pythagorean
theorem which uses them. That particular example needs
a post of its own.)
Is it really the bomb? Meh. I have personal issues with it.
I like the visual element of teaching math, but I think the
curriculum spends too long on it, and not enough time
transitioning to number based math. I see kiddos in 6th
grade who want to draw arrays for fractions or
multiplication, instead of using numbers, and honestly
there is a time when the array holds you back. It is also
slow, and that can be discouraging to kids who are ready
to move forward.
Arrays are a tool. I'm a woman who likes tools. They
don't have to be fix-alls, they just have to have a purpose,
and they shouldn't be mysterious.