Monday, November 10, 2014

Common Core and Mandated Process

So Jerry says that Common Core mandates how Teachers teach.  Of course, there is no source or proof provided:
"The problem comes in when the zealots start to mandate HOW we must teach these standards. I would wager I can teach addition without that cumbersome, mind-deadening drawing of squares that CC requires. I think teachers are smart enough to figure out how to teach and teach best when given that authority. If a master teacher or principal can evaluate and then guide young teachers into these "best practices" sooner, that's great. If through good student evaluation we identify better best practices, that's continuous improvement, and if those student evaluations help us to concentrate on those who are struggling or even modify our approach to do so, that is exactly what's needed so we have "no child left behind."

It was rather funny, a few days ago, when discussing some of the changes in the math curriculum, a teacher asked me, "what do we do about the tactile learners?" I had always smirked at the notion that there were different kinds of learners until I ran into (and eventually overcame) an extreme example at work, and so I now immediately relate when somebody tells me about children who are similarly hampered by some "one-size-fits-all" instructional technique dictated by some bureaucrat who doesn't understand that kids are not all the same "size." " Jerry
Ed Week Many Ways to Subtract
WP Common Core Math
Edutopia Visual Learning
Hechinger Report Math Problem
Common Core First Grade Math

I am wondering if people are:
  1. identifying real problems with common core
  2. trying to make mountains out of mole hills
  3. showing their personal resistance to change (sonny... it was good enough for me when I had to walk to school uphill...  both ways...)
Personally I am thinking 2 & 3 are the winners.  To me it looks like the Common Core describes what concepts children should know by what year.  The curriculum gives ideas regarding how to accomplish this, however it seems both leave how that is accomplished to the Teachers.

Thoughts?

12 comments:

Laurie said...

people complained about not understanding/liking the "new" math curriculum back when my kids were young 15 years ago.

I think some people are inclined to complain about national standards and curriculum no matter what is included.

I am still curious about whether states will continue to make their own math and reading assessments or if there will be common assessments used by many states.

jerrye92002 said...

"of course"??? Really, is my credibility that low?

Perhaps you want to phrase it differently, but when the textbooks are changed for CC, when the tests are solidly CC, then does that not dictate that teachers must teach using that methodology, and to those results? It's simple common sense, and where CC is implemented in a way that defies common sense, like in math, States are [correct in] rejecting it.

John said...

Jerry,
I am absolutely certain that you believe the facts are as you interpret them to be, just as all of us do.

The challenge though is that all of us interpret the facts differently, therefore we enjoy seeing the sources of the stated belief whenever possible.

You have a tendency to state things as fact or common sense without including any sources.

John said...

Laurie,
I sure hope not, the idea that we have been spending money in every state and most school districts to identify what academic success looks like and how to measure it is just silly.

I mean the SAT and ACT tests are national tests and they seem to work just fine for our post K-12 institutions.

John said...

Of course, there are a lot of bureaucrats, administration personnel and others who would need to find a new role in education if this happened.

jerrye92002 said...

I have sources, I just forget where they are while remembering the salient facts. To those who insist that NCLB was a terrible failure because teachers were "teaching to the test," why is it not problematic that CC implementations dictate the test to be used? And if that isn't a problem for you, then do the tests not dictate what the curriculum must include, and even, in some cases, the methodology of teaching it?

John said...

The tests have multiple choice answers and no one is grading the method as far as I know.

The students/teachers can solve the problem however they choose. They just need to fill in the correct bubble.

As for standard curriculum and methods. Are you advocating that every teacher should be free to teach whatever they like in any way they choose?

If not, what makes individual district level curriculum and content choosers anymore effective than national level curriculum and content choosers?

jerrye92002 said...

Here's a 5th grade test question straight from CC:
"Use an area model to explain
the product of 4.6 and 3. Write the product in standard form, word form,
and expanded form."

I don't recall using "area models" to do multiplication, so it appears that the teacher must "teach to the test," which means using the methodology dictated by CC. I'm not necessarily making judgments about whether or not the methodology is better, but I think it's at least arguable. The one thing CC may do well-- maybe-- is to bring some higher standards to some schools that need them. Whether that alone improves achievement I seriously doubt, especially if the new mandated methodologies are just a faddish "new new math" that nobody really understands.

Here's a reasonably balanced report: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/11/12/12cc-overview.h34.html

It's not the standards that are problematic, it's that they are mandated and that they are enforced by curriculum and testing. It tends to leave local school boards, teachers, students, and parents out of the decisions over what and how the kids learn.

R-Five said...

If we took the CC approach to reading, we'd be diagraming every sentence to precisely frame the subject and predicate etc. And we'd therefore need to spend hours just reading a newspaper.

Math ultimately has to be instinctive, that 4x6x3 is 72. We might get there different ways (4x6)x3 or 6x(4x3), but the true core of arithmetic is good old rote, tables and drills. You have to be able to look at an answer, say that looks about right, go back if not.

Same with algebra & trig, you have to get comfortable with the basic equations like sin(a+b)= sin(a)cos(b) + cos(a)sin(b). And true, you can then derive sin(2a) = 2sin(a)cos(a), but better still you just know it when doing calculus integrals.

Math skill is about fluency, and like language you must have a working vocabulary.

R-Five said...

Forget those area models. Want to make 4x6x3 interesting? "Suppose you get paid $3 per toilet cleaned in a 6 story office building with 4 toilets per floor. How much money did you make?"

jerrye92002 said...

R-five, you're right on both counts. Nothing wrong with teaching place value, it's absolutely fundamental, and little tricks like using pennies and dimes or drawing squares can help some kids grasp the concept. (Me, I just add little zeros to the numbers, like 3(00)4(0)2 for 342. Then the multiplication gets pretty easy. Just like reading, the more quickly the student can move past the phonics and the reading aloud and the moving lips and get to the "whole word" form of reading, the better off they are. You need to get past all the crutches and get to the symbolic manipulation based on rote memorization. I teach kids their "timeses" and "gazintas" by pointing out the patterns on a 10x10 chart. That makes it easier to memorize.

And I can relate to that problem in math, too. I wasn't much good at "pure" math, but relate it to something real and I'm a whiz. It took me quite a while to realize that those homework problems, silly as they were, were helping me cement the concepts in my head. Once I truly had the concept, rather than simply thinking I had, I didn't like doing any more of them.

John said...

Ed Week CC Overview