Allaying Older Sister’s Frustrations over Common Core Math Homework

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I saw this problem on Twitter with the caption: “My 9 year old sisters math homework with this “common core” %$#. WHAT ARE THESE DIRECTIONS.”

Dear Frustrated Older Sister,

The directions are confusing to someone who hasn’t read the Common Core standards and accompanying documents (which only people like me actually do).  So it makes sense that you are confused.  I would guess the confusing part of these directions are either “number bonds” or “skip-count.”

First I’ll talk about “number bonds.”  One of the shifts in the Common Core State Standards is towards conceptual understanding.  What used to be taught as a practice in memorization is now taught to understand the underlying concept.  “7+7=14 because… my brain told me” is no longer acceptable.  Understanding that 7 can be broken up into 3+4 (that’s what the number bonds are showing you) is important and helpful in understanding why 7+7 = 14.  You may ask, why 3+4 and not 2+5 or 1+6?  The reason is in the next step, we are taking the 7 and adding 3 to it to make a 10.  Then we have 4 left.  Putting it altogether, 7+7 is the same as 7+3+4 which leads to 10+4 which is the expanded form of 14.

If you are confused about the “skip count” part, we used to just call it counting by 7’s.  Similarly to how you jump over ground when skipping on the playground, you can skip over the other numbers when counting.  I believe the skip was added to make clear they are jumping over the numbers in between to differentiate it from regular counting which would mean by ones.
Thanks for trying to help your little sister,

Jim Town – Mathematics Specialist at ACOE Core Learning

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