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Conceptual understanding in math

What is conceptual understanding in mathematics?

Conceptual understanding is one of three aspects of rigor outlined by the Common Core. It calls for instruction that:

  • introduces mathematical concepts,

  • emphasizes sense-making over answer-getting, and

  • builds and refines students’ mathematical schema.

Teaching conceptual understanding

Different standards target different aspects of rigor—conceptual, procedural, application—and that means our teaching needs to adapt to meet those demands. Here are tools you can use to make sure your instruction is meeting the mark:

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