As a fifth grade teacher, I used to spend hours hunting for math materials and exercises. If I had to teach my math class a standard skill, like adding fractions with different denominators, I would flip through thick binders of exercises, maybe printing up a few. Then I’d search online, where I’d inevitably find an avalanche of teaching resources, including loads of useless resources. It took hours to winnow the mathematical wheat from the chaff.
Like most elementary teachers I know, I’m responsible for teaching all subject areas. That means more lesson prep work to prepare for each class. The work to prepare high-quality lessons day-in and day-out for all classes has only grown more challenging in recent years, particularly in English (ELA) and math. Most teachers nationwide now teach to Common Core standards.
In Connecticut, where I teach in a public grade school, we’ve had Common Core since 2011. This gives teachers a daunting to-do list for their math classes. For each standard, whether forming algebraic expressions or classifying two-dimensional shapes, we must find reliable teaching resources. To check out each offering, and vet its viability, a teacher often goes through the search results one by one. It’s a painstaking process, especially for a single subject that takes only one period of the crowded day.