Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous

On The Common Core and the special ed fantasy

Anonymous said...
Our school decided that all classes are to be college prep. No exceptions. Our special ed. students can go to resource room with one of two teachers who both are about students getting passing grades, not learning--they give the kids answers (three students come back from taking test and every answer matches-even the short answer questions. I have two students in American Lit who are reading at 2nd grade level and whose ability to comprehend the material, to make inferences, to write a complete sentence are at that level or lower. I have begged special ed teachers to help me find age-appropriate material that is on their reading level to no avail. We are just expected to pass them along. It makes me burn inside every day that no matter what I do, I can't change this; my student load is 150 students, 4 different preps.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: GoogleMaster

On "Creative" application essays

GoogleMaster said...

Not only are these types of corporate interviews not new, they're not even being conducted anymore at the companies that made them famous. The book about Microsoft's interviews, How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?, was published over 10 years ago, and by then the practice had been going on for some time. Microsoft and Google have both stopped doing "puzzle interviews", because (a) they don't tell you anything useful about the candidate, and (b) many of the candidates have memorized the answers to many of the questions anyway.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: C T

C T said...
It's like they're trying to avoid teaching long division or something.... 
I just found out yesterday that on the Everyday Math website where they have videos of all their preferred algorithms, the link at the bottom to long division lessons returns this: "ForbiddenYou don't have permission to access /support_info.html on this server."

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Auntie Ann

On Is refusing to color today's "coloring outside the lines?" 

Auntie Ann said...

Here we are 2 years later, he's in 6th grade and again got marked down about 20% for only putting words on and not "decorating" a small poster. Changed an high A into a low B.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous, Auntie Ann and momof4

On Creativity vs. mere whimsy

Anonymous said...
Your son's assignments drive many kids crazy. Not everyone likes writing stories and one can be a well-educated adult without doing so. The ability to write clear, correct, factually accurate non-fiction is a big assent in any field and is often a perquisite for advancement. Please, no stories; let us write non-fiction and do correct for content, grammar and style. That's the old-fashioned way, before the creative writing mania hit. Keep creative writing as elective-only.
Auntie Ann said...
The crazy-making assignments are a staple across education these days.

Teachers seem to think that art projects or creative assignments are a way to make learning fun, but they do not take into account those kids who don't find them the slightest bit fun. What about them? Teachers don't seem to recognize that some of these so-called fun assignments are torturing a non-negligible part of their class. Our kid is highly fastidious, the slightest mistake in his artwork and he gets incredibly frustrated. Give him a dopey prompt, and he can't get started. Give him a research assignment and paper to write, and he's happy as a clam--but make him do a poster about it and he hits the wall.

We get very tired of taking trips to the art store every week.

The cynic in me says that it's much easier to grade 20 posters than it is to grade 20 papers, and that's why they get assigned instead. It's much easier to stress the creativity and content of a fiction story than it is to actually go through and mark the grammar and spelling errors (especially when many of the teachers aren't terribly strong at grammar either.) It's also easier to flatten the grading on a creative project than it is a research paper or essay. Check the right boxes on the rubric, and you can have an A. Doesn't matter if you actually learned something: is your lettering straight and tidy? Is your poster visually appealing? Do you have a good use of color? (Our kid was graded down because he really, really wanted a project to be in black and white and the teacher insisted he had to color it.) Very little of the grade ends up being actually learning or content based. 
momof4 said...
Exactly. Schools talk a lot about learning styles but refuse to acknowledge that some kids don't find artsy projects fun and would rather write a proper report. I've come to think that ES teachers (especially but now including many MS teachers) love them, personally, and aren't even aware that many kids hate them. It's playing school, not real academics. 

Favorite comments of '13, cont: C T, Kim, and Anonymous

On Math professors on making math fun

C T said...
Math Professor: "Everyone should LUUUURVE math as much as I do. Real analysis and differential equations are actually quite easy if you just get them the way I do!"

Everyone else: "Dude, you're a freak. Seriously, a statistical freak of nature."

Everyone else's future employers: "Please, can we just find some workers who can do basic arithmetic in their heads?"
Kim said...
Heres' the thing. I appreciate art because I understand what goes into it. I can barely draw a stick figure that looks like a stick figure, so when I look at a work of art I see the beauty in it and recognize the skill and imagination that it took to create such a piece. It's the same thing when I see a skilled dancer, musician, or football player. Part of appreciating what they do so well is recognizing how much work it took to make them the works of art they are.

The thing is - none of them - the artist, the dancer, the musician, the football player - not a single one of them became what they are just by observing and appreciating art, dancing, music, or football. They had to learn about it first. They had to learn how to hold a paintbrush, how to stand on their toes, how to play a note, and how to catch a ball. Lots of other people tried, just like them, but didn't have the gift they do. That's what makes their gift so valuable - the fact that not many of us can do what they do.

The same thing applies to math. You have to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide to understand and be in awe of things like pi.

And...just like artists, musicians, dancers, and football players are freaks of nature, so too are the gifted mathematicians who imagine that the swirling hexagon / decagon exercise would do anything other than give most of us a headache. Description: http://img1.blogblog.com/img/blank.gif
Anonymous said...
The difference is that incredible artists, musicians, dancers, and football players don't imagine everybody else could easily do what they do if they just followed their simple educational program.

Too smart by half, those math geniuses. 

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Auntie Ann, Anonymous and lgm

On Educational Technology and the Educational Industrial Complex

Auntie Ann said...

Form needs to follow function: technology needs to follow application. Effective applications need to come first and prove that they are better than the alternatives (great teachers and lots of iterative practice.) After that, the platform is immaterial.

Anonymous said...
Any program that starts with a stupid name is suspect. I used to work for a high-tech company that wanted us to use the slogan "1+1=3" on powerpoint charts -- this is supposed to mean something like "synergy". But you can't get a roomful of engineers to write that out.1:X -- what if X = 1, or 0? Why is this the same as "many" except because of functional illiteracy?

lgm said...
Around here writing instruction is only given in honors sections. 
Computer programming has been declared 'elitist' and cancelled, just like IB, honors math, honors science, Foreign Language IV and V, and other such classes that the 'wrong' students would like to have in their schedule.

Katharine Beals said...
Update on LA Superintendent Deasy: according to last week's Edweek, Deasy's previous employer was America's Choice, an education research company acquired by Pearson in 2010. Mr. Deason "angrily dismissed 'innuendos' that [this] had influenced the LAUSD's decision to select Pearson." 
Edweek also reports that Mr. Deasy may resign this winter--presumably (in what is often yet another blow to the accountability of our school superintendents) with a nifty severance package.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Auntie Ann and Anonymouses

On Does emotional processing in the classroom really lower anxiety and make us more successful?

Auntie Ann said...
What's rather shocking to me is in that in these scenarios it's the teacher who is bullying, forcing the kids to do things and talk about things that they don't want to, or are embarrassing, or will invite the ridicule of bullies when the teacher's back is turned, etc.

It's one thing to talk through fictitious scenarios--I see no reason why the teacher couldn't have used a made-up situation for this lesson--and it is quite another to force children, who don't have the rational mentality to know what to share and what to not share, and who easily are intimidated by adults, to divulge their own personal and private lives in front of all of their peers.

I find these snippets rather horrifying.
And another thing: how many social-emotional problems can be alleviated with nothing more than an hour of recess and free play every day.

Instead of looking for analytical and adult-based answers, maybe we should just let kids have more time to play.
Anonymous said...
Classroom teachers need to know how to prevent bullying (but not with discussion circles, please) and they need to be able to listen well if students need that -- up to and including asking students who seem troubled if there is anything they want to talk about, AFTER class. But there are very few teachers whom I would trust with the kind of dynamic you're describing for Ruler, and it's an imposition on kids who are emotionally stable to waste their time on this sort of activity. 
Anonymous said...
Play would teach any number of social and emotional skills, but the teacher wouldn't get to be involved at all. 
Anonymous said...
Play teaches lots of good social and emotional skills - if adults stay out of it and let kids sort things out on their own. Most adults today - both parents and school personnel - won't let this happen. Today's play is supervised and directed by adults. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous

On The decline of specialized education, continued

Anonymous said...

I think that, while IEP's are good at identifying the curriculum goals that children should attain, they often miss the boat on autonomy issues. I have a neighbor who, because she is in a regular classroom, has her every move monitored and her every action facilitated or brokered, by her aide. She is not retaining much of the curriculum, because it is way above her cognitive level.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous

On Why the "normal child inside" myth just won't die

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this. It's clear that "facilitated" communication is a sham. On the other hand, it's also clear that it brings comfort to struggling parents. The facilitator almost always types out messages of love and appreciation. The noncommunative child turns out to be wise and witty. It's easy the say that the truth will make you free. The reality may be that some people can't handle the truth.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: momof4, Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking, Anonymouses, and C T

On Edufallacies: correlation vs. causation

momof4 said...

I've been saying that the ed world is unable/unwilling to differentiate correlation from causation for decades. Eighth-grade algebra, Latin, modern foreign languages, debate team, algebra II/trig/precalc,and AP classes have all been cited as causative factors in higher performance on various measures, including SAT/ACT, HS graduation, college attendance and graduation etc. Such results have fueled the XYZ-for-all push. Unfortunately, such courses are simply correlation, not causation. In the real world, only the most able, prepared and motivated kids take these courses, which are a proxy variable for identification of such kids. It's idiocy, but that hasn't stopped schools/districts from pushing kids who can't do multiplication and division.

Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking said...
When an IT person was in the building, excitedly telling me about the new iPad cart they were installing, I had to stop myself from shouting "Our kids don't need iPads, they need FATHERS."

Anonymous said...
Don't forget the mother of all educational correlation / causation confusions: 
A school where students score low on standardized tests must have bad teachers, so they should be penalized and reshuffled frequently. September 2, 2013 at 5:42 PM Auntie Ann said... I don't get the shuffling thing! When an LAUSD school finally starts pulling itself together, when the head of the school shows talent and success; the first thing they do is move her to a different school! 
You'd think they'd let success stand, instead of trying to break it apart. September 2, 2013 at 8:42 PM   
Anonymous said...
Letting success stand would probably help the kids. But who wants praxis when we can have theory? When they penalize and reshuffle teachers at schools whose student body tests low, they are inevitably penalizing students for being poor and penalizing teachers for teaching poor students.'If you want to keep your job, don't teach poor kids' is the message they end up sending.

C T said...
Wouldn't it be nice if formal logic were taught? I think most Americans, if they even know the word "fallacy", think it just means "dumb argument". It's important to know WHY an argument fails; otherwise, it just looks like opponents of an idea are name-calling. With all the calls for teaching students to be "critical thinkers", why don't we see the education world turning to teaching formal logic? It seems the K-12 world mostly thinks logic is just for math.

Favorite comments of '13, cont: Anonymous, Deirdre Mundy, Auntie Ann, 1crosbycat

On One Test to rule them all, One Test to find them, One Test to bring them all and to the Standards bind them

Anonymous said...
One might worry that the common core spells the end to homeschooling. Once every school teaches the same curriculum, won't case law support insisting that the comparable thoroughness and efficiency of homeschooling can only be achieved by following the same curriculum?

I think it's the private schools that save our bacon here. They're not going to up and go common core. We have private schools here that are older than the institution of public school. They're not going to give up their traditions. As long as they hold the line on an alternative, we can fit in the spread somewhere.

The most frightening part, surely, is Coleman coming into the leadership of the College Board, where he intends to dismantle the SAT.

"Coleman’s most radical idea is to redesign the SAT, transforming it from an aptitude test intended to control for varying levels of school quality, to a knowledge test aligned with the Common Core."

I don't know how independent schools and homeschoolers will respond to that. Perhaps the SAT will fall by the wayside and we will use different tests. Perhaps the ACT will hold out and continue to measure aptitude rather than regurgitation.

The source article for the PJ column is very interesting.

It comes to some of the same conclusions I regularly support - we need more vocational education and preparation for different courses, not the one size fits all system of Common Core.

This battle isn't over, and, as before, we can expect support from unusual quarters.
Deirdre Mundy said...
Anon-- Reading the CCSI pages-- the Common Core isn't really a CURRICULUM. For instance, the Standards for Kindergarten literature include things like "Asking questions about a story. Describing illustrations. Identifying what an author does."

There's no book list. No list of works to be covered. Not even a "Works from X regions and Y time periods."

The CCSI appear to be a list of generic, vague 'skills' totally divorced from content. Which means there's still no 'national curriculum" and that schools and teachers will still vary.

It's all 21st Century skills in a new package. There's no there there.
Auntie Ann said...
Not all private schools are old-school. Many started in the 60's and 70's and had a modern flair from the start. I would guess, the further west you go, into the newer parts of the country, you have fewer and fewer of the old-school privates. There are plenty of non-academic, "nurturing" schools out there which will be more than happy to use CC.

This is actually a major challenge to many private schools. If they use, or don't even rise to the level of, the common core; and if parents can get the core for free at public schools, what are parents paying for?

One of our kids is in one that uses CC as only a guideline (which, in this case, means they don't even expect to achieve that level of competency.) The school really hasn't begun addressing its existential crisis yet.
1crosbycat said...
A friend of mine was extremely concerned when she discovered her private, Catholic school is aligning with Common Core and we discovered that the governing body for Catholic education in the U.S. is mandating it. So she started this website just a month or so ago. Here is a link with good info, some mainly Catholic related regarding social issues, but much good, well-explained info on Common Core and its impact. http://www.pghcatholicsagainstcommoncore.com/must-read-information

My private (non-Catholic) school will not willingly comply with Common Core, but when all the textbooks and standardized tests - not only SATs but the IOWAs and Stanford and others used by private schools - is aligning with Common Core already even before the public became aware of this, it is essentially coming down on every kid in America. And when CC does not prepare for college in areas like math and skip over the classics of literature, among many other things, you can see why federal control of education is and should be unconstitutional. Description: http://img1.blogblog.com/img/blank.gif
Anonymous said...
There's a fine line they're walking here. If they really align the SAT with Common Core, they may succeed only at making it irrelevant to colleges.