Question: If the CCSS indicates that Grade 2 students are supposed to be working with numbers to 1,000, why doesn’t this work begin sooner? Why are students still working with numbers under 20 and numbers under 100 for so much of the year?
Answer: The Common Core State Standards at Grade 2 include work with numbers up to 1,000, but it is important to look closely at what students are expected to do with these numbers. In Grade 2 students are developing efficient and accurate strategies for adding and subtracting numbers within 100. This is different than the work they do adding and subtracting numbers within 1,000, which the CCSS stipulates be done with models. (See Grade 2 Unit 8.) This is also different from the work with the composition of numbers to 1,000, which prepares them to use these numbers to add and subtract, in later units. (See Grade 2 Unit 5.) Throughout grade 2 —and in every grade — students work with numbers of varying size depending on the concept/skill being addressed. Students often work on these concepts simultaneously. This work includes:
- developing fluency with +/- facts to 20
- understanding number composition, place value, and the base 10 number system up to 1,000
- understanding the operations (Note: Sometimes this work is done with smaller numbers so that students can attend to the underlying property of the operations and not be distracted by the quantities involved. This work leads to generalizations about operations, e.g. in addition, numbers can be added in any order and the total remains the same.)
- developing accurate, efficient, flexible strategies for adding and subtracting numbers within 100, which are based on place value and an understanding of the operations
- using models and representations to add and subtract numbers within 1,000 (Note: Fluency with addition and subtraction up to 1,000 is a Grade 3 standard.)
Our perspective has always been that, in order for students to understand work with larger numbers, they must build on broad and firm foundations – steady and solid instead of earlier and faster. We are seeing impressive results in grade 1 and 2 classrooms where fidelity to the curriculum is strong; by the end of the year students have a solid understanding of the number and operations work that has been presented and benchmarked across the 8 units of the year.
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