The Common Core State Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practices give every student the opportunity to become proficient. Instead of trying to teach 100 things every year, requiring that the teacher move quickly through the material, the Common Core State Standards have narrowed the curriculum to 25 to 30 standards each year.
For years math class has predominantly been “Show and Tell” by the teacher. The students have watched the teacher do several examples and then they use those examples to do many problems. Often students saw no connection between the concepts and many times saw no reason to “study this stuff.”
Common Core has changed that to “Think and Do” by the students. Math classes should now include some discovery activities using manipulatives and discussions that allow the students to determine what the process is and why it works. Teachers have time to help students develop an understanding of the concepts they are studying.
It is no longer a mystery as to why they add six or multiply by two. As the students learn to problem solve through understanding, they can transfer the learning to other concepts. Through the use of hands-on discovery, all students will gain an understanding of what they are doing. Watching the experts play a sport or a musical instrument has never made anyone a star. We learn by doing. When given an opportunity to understand, all students can become proficient on some level. Some students will still be better than others but no student should be left behind.