kitchen table math, the sequel: in the land of steady habits

Friday, April 29, 2011

in the land of steady habits

(I learned the phrase "land of steady habits" from LG)
A math teacher, José Rios, used to take a day or two on probabilities, drawing bell-shaped curves on the blackboard to illustrate the pattern known as normal distribution. This year, he stretched the lesson by a day and had students work in groups to try to draw the same type of graphic using the heights of the 15 boys in the class.

“Eventually, they figured out they couldn’t because the sample was too small,” Mr. Rios said. “They learned that the size of the sample matters, and I didn’t have to tell them.”

In three years, instruction in most of the country could look a lot like what is going on at Hillcrest, one of 100 schools in New York City experimenting with new curriculum standards known as the common core.

Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have signed on to the new standards, an ambitious set of goals that go beyond reading lists and math formulas to try to raise the bar not only on what students in every grade are expected to learn, but also on how teachers are expected to teach.

A Trial Run for School Standards That Encourage Deeper Thought
By FERNANDA SANTOS
New York Times April 24, 2011
I don't recall the Common Core standards "expecting" teachers to spend three days teaching what they used to teach in one or two.

Unless I'm missing something, which I could be.


Richard Elmore on time

11 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

Something new and different.

Catherine Johnson said...

Do the Common Core standards say that teachers should stop 'telling'?

LynnG said...

Teachers attending a training session were asked to list the lessons they had learned. Teachers from the Bronx had an epiphany that "Many students are reading far below grade level" - a message they felt so important that they wrote it on a piece of cardboard to display.

I'm wondering how much time and money were spent on this training session for them to figure that out.

SteveH said...

Standards and curricula only mean so much. Our schools would screw up Singapore Math. What do schools do to ensure that learning gets done, no matter how it's being taught? The knowledge and skills gap widens starting in first grade, and everything becomes relative. Schools say things like "they will learn when they are ready", and they talk about engagement, discovery, and balance. The onus is completely on the child and parents. Many look at high school where the gap is obvious, but few trace it back to where it starts.

K9Sasha said...

Depending on how it's taught, the students looking at heights of students in the class could as easily argue that probability is not a bell shaped curve because that's not what their data show.

Catherine Johnson said...

Teachers from the Bronx had an epiphany that "Many students are reading far below grade level" - a message they felt so important that they wrote it on a piece of cardboard to display.

omg --- was that in the story??

Catherine Johnson said...

the students looking at heights of students in the class could as easily argue that probability is not a bell shaped curve because that's not what their data show.

that's the issue that's bugging me -- how, exactly, are these students supposed to know that the proper shape is a bell curve?

The only way they know that, it seems to me, is that the teacher 'told' them so -- then had them "figure out" that a small sample size skews results.

What's SOOOO frustrating about all this is the absolute faith that having students 'figure out' a concept as opposed to explaining and illustrating a practice well, is automatically superior.

I assume that it's probably a good idea to mix 'discovery' in with 'telling' -- but I don't **know** that it's a good idea, and, what's more, I know that I don't know.

In all of these articles & interviews, there is a near-total absence of what you might call critical thinking.

Grace Nunez said...

The other epiphany from that teacher training session was that “Visuals help students make meaning”. Not that I know what this actually means, but I would imagine that it takes a whole lot more time to "make" meaning than simply to learn it.

Maybe once they go on to college these students can actually "learn" stuff . . . in their remedial classes.

Catherine Johnson said...

Someone should post videos of remedial college classes on Youtube.

Just so everyone can see what happens when you get to college without having committed knowledge to long-term memory.

CA Teacher said...

Interesting commentary that is relevant to the many concerns here at KTM:

http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com/2011/04/david-l-russell-on-neoliberalism-and.html

Cheers!

Catherine Johnson said...

CA Teacher - thanks for that link!

I'll try to re-post the terrific section on math - wonderful.