I am teaching math to 3rd graders and after doing an assessment of their math skills more than 75% of them could not understand subtraction using 2 digit numbers. When I posed a 3 digit subtraction problem they looked at me like I was a tourist from another land using a translation dictionary to ask where the bathroom was. I'm currently looking for other ways to try and pass the information over to them since I am new to this. However, I am dismayed and troubled over their skills. Shouldn't they understand this by now? or is this level of understanding normal? Thanks.

I would check your state standards for previous grades to see what they should know. In my state, multiplication isn't introduced until third grade. For the subtraction, give them manipulative such as base ten blocks. Have them build the first number and physically take away the second number. You will have to model this extensively at first, especially if the problem involves regrouping.

Great advice! CCSS. Doesn't hit multiplication until grade 3. It's ALWAYS best to check state and district standards. Regardless, we must teach our kids from where they are. A review of place value could be beneficial before moving ahead...this will tie into discussions of regrouping. Start with no regroup problems...when moving on to regrouping, place value blocks and modeling the regrouping by trading tens for ones could help...with the algorithm, rhymes such as 'more on the floor, go next door and get ten more' might help. Graph paper for keeping columns lined up. When you move onto 3 digit, work with regrouping in one place...then move onto double regrouping. After lots of experience with those, introduce subtracting across a middle zero.

This... eek. About half of my upper elementary kiddos have no idea what a noun or verb is. I've had to do a lot of scaffolding to be able to teach what I should be teaching. OP, what does your school require you to teach? If you have to teach a third grade curriculum still, and you likely do, it could be good to devote 5-10 minutes of your math block to reviewing things like subtraction. That way, they're not getting further behind, and you're still helping fill in the gaps that they have.

my district is switching over to Eureka Math (EngageNY) and it is an uphill battle, they don't have the skills to work in an NBT math environment yet. CCSS is the best way to check on requirements. ELA for third grade is something like 300- 500 site words. Exposure to 1 million plus words through reading a year, writing for 45 minutes at a time (300-500 word essays), write narrative, expository, and opinion, Math is knowing analog time (introduced in 2nd grade), multiplication, to including using zeros e.g. 0 x 8, 2x3 multiplication, etc, solving fractions, word problems.

We started using Engage last year, and it was TOUGH!! I teach 5th, so the gap was huge. I will say, now that we are in the second year, it is soooo much better! There really is a method to the madness, but it didn't make sense until I had taught the entire curriculum. Hang in there!

Yeah I'll be honest. I don't have access to the previous teachers (see my post in General Education). But thank you for your ideas about blocks and graph paper. I was trying to use that method through words and it just wasn't working. I just hope that there is in fact blocks and graph paper available. I think I will make up some scenarios and see if the information clicks or not. I was happy that I was able to pass on the information to 70% of the class since roughly that much is IEP students. Still I don't want to leave them behind either. I enjoy teaching math, probably due to my background and understanding of it (which is ironic because I HATED it when I was a kid). Thanks again for your help!

(This post is written in general terms not referring to any specific pre-third grade teachers). Most of my career has been in third grade. I wish students entering 3rd grade had familiarity with place value and arithmetic concepts, but in elementary math class, typically the students are told and shown place this here and put that there, then they are given algorithms to solve that match the day's lesson of putting this here and placing that there. I wish students entering 3rd grade had memorized addition/subtraction facts at least to a sum of 10; (so as not to be misunderstood, memorization can include strategies, such as counting on 1 more). Third grade typically emphasizes memorization of multiplication/division facts and catching up on previous memorization skills hinders this time wise. I wish pre-third grade students (not just the teachers) used manipulatives (I especially prefer base ten blocks), not only to visualize a lesson but to explore and develop brain connections in mathematics. This is messy, but I wish pre-third grade students also had time to play with base ten blocks (I especially prefer the wooden blocks); by play, I literally mean play as they might with Legos or Lincoln Logs, perhaps even combining the base ten blocks with other blocks. Indoor recess or pre-morning time are excellent times for this, and using mats as a base makes clean up a bit faster. This is not a waste of time since it builds important brain connections in place value. I wish pre-third grade math teachers taught mathematics as mathematics and not just as a fill-in-a-paper task; completing a curriculum's worksheets is not math: applying math to real situations is math. I wish pre-third grade teachers included a variety of mathematical activities, again, not just fill in the blank algorithms and simple story problems; (seriously, I'm not making this up, I know of one curriculum that emphasized not even reading the story, just looking for key words and the two numbers, then re-writing the numbers in algorithm form to match the key words. Not that key word recognition is wrong, it isn't, but in real life, you don't get such a neatly written story to solve)! In summary, rather than just a list of CCSS standards, I wish pre-third grade teachers included mathematical activities to promote concept development.