Looking at Area the Old Way and the CCSS Way

Our school has designated next year as the yeard we are moving over to the new common core standards, but this year we are beginning the transition and are doing many things to start to get our kids prepared for this big change.  I am right in the middle of my unit on perimeter and area and wouldn’t you know it, we had a professional development session last week in which we talked about the old way of assessing area vs the new way of assessing area.  And while I already knew that the common core assessments will be different, and I have spent a lot of time looking at the smarter balanced example problems, the fact still remains that my teaching is going to have to change, as will my assessing.  These kids will just not be ready if we keep doing what has been ok in the past.  After our PD session, we had time to examine the new standards and work with them for a while.  I went back to the smarter balanced site and looked at the example problems they had again and found one that fit exactly with what I have been working on and assessing the kids on today. 

Old assessment-

Find the area and circumference of the circles. (Then I gave them several circles with the radius or diameter labeled.)

Skills needed:

          1. Knowledge of formulas for area and circumference

          2. Difference between radius and diameter and what to do if diameter is given.

          3. Ability to substitute a number into the correct formula


New assessment- (From the Smarter Balanced site)

An artist used silver wire to make a square that has a perimeter of 40 inches.  She then used copper wire to make the largest circle that could fit in the square, as shown.  How many more inches of silver wire did the artist used compared to copper wire?

Circle 2

Skills needed:

          1. Knowledge of the meaning of perimeter

          2. Knowledge that a square has 4 equal sides

          3. Ability/knowledge to divide the perimeter by the 4 sides to get the length of one side

          4. Knowledge that the length of one side would be the same as the diameter of the circle

          5. Knowledge that the “wire” in the problem would be circumference/perimeter not area

          6. Formula for the circumference of a circle

          7. How to find the radius after the diameter is found

          8. Ability/knowledge to subtract to find the difference between the numbers


Do the kids know all of those skills?  Absolutely!  And I showed them exactly this after I had them “take” the assessment.  We went through the entire problem and they all agreed they could do each of these skills individually.  The difference is that the common core wants them to all of this together. 

I refer to the students as “taking” the assessment because for most of them what they did was stare at the page for quite a long time, then picked their favorite formula for a circle- either area or circumference- and put the number 40 into the formula then solved it and turned it in.  Sigh.

Still, I am obsessed with this problem and I love what the kids have to do to solve the problem.  It will just take some hard work to get them there!  I think it is so much more valuable for the kids to do this kind of problem rather than being told exactly what to do.

What are you doing to get your kids ready for CCSS?



2 thoughts on “Looking at Area the Old Way and the CCSS Way

  1. We are transitioning next year too! I am trying to bring in bits and pieces of the CCSS this year. May I ask if your school has a textbook they will be using? Mine is 12 years old and many of the standards are not covered fully in the old text. Even the approaches are so different. I will need a lot of supplements yet our school is not ordering new text books. Has anyone found good workbooks/websites/etc with some decent supplements?

    PS – I love your blog!!!

    • We currently use Holt and I use course 3 in 7th grade. While I don’t think it is horrible, I do not think it matches to common core really well, but I also haven’t seen a lot that does match up from the examples I have looked at. I feel like what they do is they take the old text book and find a common core standard that kind of has some words that are the same, then it says they go together. And my other major concern is what this post is about- that the assessments that the textbook provides and the way the textbook sets up problems does not set these kids up to take the assessments they will be expected to take that involve so much more problem solving and thinking. I would love to get a good list going of what people have found that has good supplements. I will write a new post just on that topic in a minute and also put the word out on twitter and see what we can come up with!

      PS- THANKS!!!

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