More on focus

I wanted to clarify something about my earlier post on focus and math teaching.

Focusing doesn't mean that you would focus on, say, addition only for a year, and then subtraction for a year, then multiplication for a year etc. No. Mathematical concepts connect together and so you need to study closely connected concepts fairly close to each other.

The idea is to focus on a few topics or themes.

For example, for 1st grade, the focus topics could be concept of addition, concept of subtraction, place value, and memorizing basic addition/subtraction facts.

Several of them connect together too: for example, subtraction/addition have a close connection. So do understanding tens/ones and concept of addition.

Measuring and geometry are needed, to some extent. The less important topics could be fractions and data analysis (if any).

When you are focusing on some topics, you should have a goal: you want the student to MASTER something. After that, you can move on to something else.

Maybe you have a goal for the first grade (or first part of first grade) that the student understands certain things about addition and subtraction, understands tens and ones, and knows by heart certain basic addition facts. You want mastery in those topics, so you concentrate on them.

Then, the next goals could be hundreds/tens/ones, and adding and subtracting two and three-digit numbers.

Then could come concept of multiplication, and memorizing the times tables.

You may have more or deeper goals -- you should check your state standards what they say also; these are just examples. I am NOT saying you should teach exactly this way or in this order. It depends on the child, on various standards, on the curriculum. For example I know some people introduce multiplication concept in first grade along with the other operations.

But focusing on a few closely connected topics, with the goal of mastery, is the idea.
Hope this helps.
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