Curriculum focal points

I'm going to talk again about the new report released by NCTM, Curriculum Focal Points.

For each grade, it describes THREE focal points, and also explains to which other mathematical topics these focal points connect to.

By familiarizing yourself with these few points, you can see the basics of school mathematics unfold before your eyes. Knowing the basic goals is essential for being a good teacher.

By the way, these aren't the only things kids might study on a given grade. They are the focus areas. Many of the other topics would connect with these.

Go look at the pics at about the way textbooks and programs typically present the topics, versus a "VISION OF CURRICULUM" laid out by the Focal Points document.

On grade 1, the focus is on
  • addition/subtraction: basic basic addition facts and related subtraction facts. Learning to add and subtract two-digit numbers.

  • Understanding whole numbers in terms of tens and ones

  • Composing and decomposing geometric shapes

Measuring and simple bar and picture graphs are presented as applications of these.

On Grade 2:

  • Understanding the base-ten numeration system and place-value concepts at least till 1000.

  • Quick recall of addition facts and related subtraction facts and fluency with multidigit addition and subtraction.

  • Measurement: Developing an understanding of linear measurement and facility in measuring lengths.

Skip-counting is also included, and prepares children for 3rd grade and multiplication.

On grade 3:

  • Understanding multiplication and division, and strategies for basic multiplication facts and related division facts.

  • Understanding fractions and fraction equivalence

  • Geometry: Describing and analyzing properties of two-dimensional shapes.

Measuring using fractional parts ties nicely in with the second point.

So we get started on multiplication and division. Notice on next grade, one of the focal points is "developing quick recall", or basically memorizing multiplication/division facts.

On grade 4:

  • Developing quick recall of multiplication facts and related division facts and fluency with whole number multiplication.

  • Understanding decimals, including the connections between fractions and decimals.

  • Measurement: Developing an understanding of area and determining the areas of two-dimensional shapes.

Well, reading these makes teaching school mathematics sound almost easy to teach - compared to reading a big laundry list of objectives and thinking, "Oh well, I'm supposed to cover all that".

You can find the other grades at Curriculum Focal Points by Grade.
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