Make Ten

This tweet caused a bit of a stir among math teachers:

The replies are full of teachers defending this assignment and explaining why the “make ten” strategy is an important one that most people use without realizing it.

I agree that this is a good assignment, and is a good way to help students practice mental arithmetic and number bonds. But in my view it’s inappropriate as homework. I think too many educators were too quick to defend this. Just because it’s a good assignment doesn’t mean it’s a good assignment to send students home with. My stance is that homework should never require students to use a specific method or strategy. Homework, if it’s used at all in lower grades, should have as few restrictions as possible. Teachers need to remember that homework can be a fraught time for families. We should keep homework assignments as simple as possible to make homework a painless habit rather than a stressful minefield to navigate. I would absolutely give this assignment to students in lower grades, but in class where students have support to understand what it’s asking and connect this strategy to other strategies they are using.

Teachers should also recognize that, while this assignment is one of the good ones, there is plenty of garbage math that has gone home in the Common Core era in the name of “new math” or whatever. Parents have good reason to respond with skepticism. Math has a public relations problem right now. Sending home assignments that require a specific strategy which parents might not be familiar with exacerbates those problems. If you can’t do that, just don’t give homework at all.

Again, I support the assignment. But it should happen in class, and I don’t support giving this assignment or assignments like it as homework.

3 thoughts on “Make Ten

  1. John Golden

    I agree with no homework at this age, but if they’re not required, I like the idea of things kids can take home to share the math they’re doing with their parents. How do you communicate what your learners are doing with their parents?

    1. dkane47 Post author

      That type of communication isn’t something I’m good at, but I know teachers who send home a monthly newsletter or use Remind to share with parents what’s going on. If I want to communicate the strategies I’m teaching students, I think just telling families is better than doing it through homework.


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