kitchen table math, the sequel: changing "what and how teachers deliver particular instruction"

Monday, December 10, 2012

changing "what and how teachers deliver particular instruction"

Monday, 12/10 - Workshop for Parents on the Common Core Learning Standards - 7:00-8:00 pm; Alexander Hamilton HS Auditorium, 98 S. Goodwin Avenue, Elmsford, NY. You have heard much about the many changes to the landscape of NY public education. Many of them are rooted in the newly adopted Common Core Learning Standards which will change what and how teachers deliver particular instruction. If you are interested in learning more about this shift in curricula, you may be interested in attending this workshop entitled Introduction to the Common Core Learning Standards for Parents which is sponsored by Southern Westchester BOCES. Click here for more information.
As far as I'm concerned, the Common Core standards have been well and truly hijacked.


Catherine Johnson said...

I should go to the Workshop.....

kcab said...

I went to something similar in our district. Though I didn't like everything I heard, there wasn't much that I found objectionable. My problem with our information session was that it was geared for parents of elementary kids & mine are older.

On-line I find concerns from parents both about whether CC will be too constuctivist and whether it will be too drill & kill. In person though, it seems like I'm the only one who has heard anything at all about Common Core.

Catherine Johnson said...

I may have to go.....

Here in NY, so far, "teach differently" has meant "no drill and kill."

But we'll see ----

kcab said...

I hope you go & report on it, just because I'm curious!

I'm really worried that my kids are going to run into some snafu just due to the transition to a different set of standards. It's the existence of change that's bothering me more than specific known changes.

SteveH said...

"..which will change what and how teachers deliver particular instruction."

I would be interested to hear about the "how". Most high schools have wel-defined college prep, honors, and AP classes, especially for those in the honors (which was called college prep in my day) and AP classes. You can't screw around with AP since you will never cover enough material and your students will never get to the '3' level on the test. This keeps schools and teachers honest.

As for K-6, I don't know how they could screw it up any more. For 7th and 8th grades, I do have some issues. Will our school water down their use of the top-end Glencoe Pre-Algebra and Algebra textbooks to meet the CCSS standards? Will they go backwards to a more CMP-like hands-on approach? The conflict, as usual, will be the need to offer 8th graders the exact same honors algebra I course that the high school gives.

Glen said...

Our middle school principal just sent out an email announcing some changes that will be coming with Common Core implementation next year. He says that since "research has shown" that "not all kids" are truly ready for algebra by 8th grade and that forcing those kids to take algebra in 8th grade "has not proven beneficial," they will be discontinuing the advanced math program as of next year.

Our middle school, like so many others, puts most 6th graders into "6th grade math," which is like Singapore 5th grade math with lots of remedial S4 and S3 material. They take pre-algebra in 7th and algebra in 8th. The "advanced math" program starts a few of the 6th graders in the Glencoe Pre-Algebra you were talking about, Steve. Those kids will take algebra in 7th and geometry in 8th.

But now, the "research" showing that there are some low-end kids who aren't ready for algebra by 8th grade has somehow proven to them the need to cancel the program for the high-end kids. The low-end kids will be allowed to slow down, and the high-end kids will be forced to join them in their newly decelerated 6th grade math classes.

The principal adds that we needn't worry, because any child who is already in the advanced program will be "grandfathered in" to the remaining advanced program until middle school graduation. It's only those starting next year and beyond--kids such as my second son--whose advanced option will be eliminated.

SteveH said...

"...they will be discontinuing the advanced math program as of next year."

My mouth is wide open as I write this!

"But now, the "research" showing that there are some low-end kids who aren't ready for algebra by 8th grade has somehow proven to them the need to cancel the program for the high-end kids."

My mouth is still open. Is differentiated instruction now not a good thing?

I got my son into Pre-Algebra in sixth grade because they were yammering for so many years about differentiated instruction. They had to put up or shut up. Actually, they probably wanted a token student to parade around for the other parents. Even better was the special needs student who was two years ahead in math.

ChemProf said...

In my district, "differentiated instruction" is purely lip service. The teachers oppose tracking because it is bad (they say) for weaker students, and blame it on "wealthy parents." Notice the educational needs of advanced students are so far off the radar as to be nonexistent.

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SteveH said...

ChemProf, your link is scary in many ways because his views are so superficial. The teacher is basically saying that schools are not in control; that there is no professional process to fix things. Then again, he says:

"The curriculum they require us to teach is stale. Many of the books and stories we teach are comparatively ancient and have no chance of engaging a modern, urban kid--and you know my opinion of mandatory algebra."

Who would trust a professional (philosophical) process if this is the result? The process needs feedback control (choice) by parents. Apparently, statistics show that urban kids are not smart enough for algebra, so if any one student does poorly in algebra, it must be their IQ. Individuals are damned by statistics and nobody is looking for systemic causes. They won't go back and see that the math curriculum they use allows bright kids to get to fifth grade not knowing the times table along with so many other basics. This is in spite of so many people telling them about the problem. If they focus on relative improvements, they will never see absolute problems.

Lgm said...

My district doesn't use the term differentiation. "Fair" and "elitist" are the terms most bandied about. For Ex, it is not fair for the district to offer advanced classes when those resources could be used on remedial or special education students' needs. Wants , such as classes at the instructional level of honors/ap/ib should not be offered because they are extras that we just can't afford or they are elitist. We should not be offering anything above high school level - those students should grade skip and grad early. Band and chorus should be eliminated they are elitist- proof being that all the students that excel are in private lessons and the district doesnt provide transportation to solo or all county type of events. Same for athletics - the parents are providing summer camps, elite teams, and rides to some practices and invitationals, so it is elitist and should be eliminated.

So, we have a few honors/ap in humanities for the benefit of the staff children. Middle school sports were restored this year, after a few years of parent protest and fundraising. Students that excel in math or science are on their own to find enrichment programs. We do not participate in the regional science fair or the math league..although all the neighboring schools do. Most clubs were cancelled. All money is to go to the needy.

For me, I'm expected to drive my sixteen year old to a college for calc 3 and a science when he is a senior (dec cutoff means we have lots gifted boys who turn 17 in fall of senior year, and with graduated licensing, can't drive themselves to a college) or graduate him early.

SteveH said...

"We do not participate in the regional science fair or the math league..although all the neighboring schools do. Most clubs were cancelled. "

It seems like your school is an unfortunate outlier.

Our high school doesn't have any way for students to take college courses yet, but I'm sure they'll leave the transportation up to the family. However, it does have a good selection of AP classes. To some extent, I'm glad we don't have the pressure or need to get in college classes.

Lgm said...

Outlier, no. We are what happens when politicians who don't believe public school should serve the needs of all students are voted other words, no child gets ahead. Equality of outcome rules. Additionally, being diverse, we have huge unfunded needs as we aren't poverty enough to tip all schools to title one. Someone has figured out that getting rid of the remaining high achievers will tip us in to title one.

Lgm said...

By the way, in my district common core is helping retain dual enrollment college alg and trig plus calculus due to the wording. Under nclb, math after integrated algebra two/trig was considered college level , which meant that elitists were stealing from the poor and special ed. fundingif they were not paying out of pocket for it.

kcab said...

they will be discontinuing the advanced math program as of next year.
Ouch. This is exactly the type of information I fear I'm going to get from our schools one of these days. I just wish I knew the form it would take here already, so that I could plan how to deal with whatever is coming.

As far as differentiation, in my experience the word means that the plan for how to deal with differing student achievement levels is without substance.

Crimson Wife said...

Singapore Math revamped its "Discovering Mathematics" series to meet CCS but it's still very strong. So there's no reason why a school HAS to offer watered-down math as a result of CCS.

SteveH said...

Barry brought out the issue of how schools are wrongly interpreting the CCSS standards, so I think we should continue to post all similar sorts of things we see.

In searching our town paper's web site, I came up with a number of interesting comments, like:

"...the School Committee needs to support the administration and staff as the district transitions to the internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards."

"Internationally benchmarked". Has anyone ever seen this sort of comparison? How do you compare genealities? There is no test or proficiency requirements yet.

"These are very high standards up to two or three grade levels ahead of where we are now.", says our superintendent.

"Up to two or three grade levels ahead". What about all of those wonderful things you were saying to us parents when my son was younger?

"Core State Standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that when they graduate from high school they will be able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs."

At least this comment was honest.

"Credit-bearing". "Workforce training." "Succeed." This means avoiding no-credit remedial classes. Even that goal remains to be seen. I doubt that the low level cutoffs will guarantee that. And what happened to that 2/3 years extra advantage in the lower grades? Everyone should be taking AP classes and getting past "entry-level".

"[...], who teaches fifth grade, explained that it was important to let go of previously held notions in order to adopt the new curriculum objectives. “That was really hard to do sometimes,” she said, “and to let those old things go and know that this is deeper – definitely deeper – into the mathematical thinking and the mathematical practices. That’s the piece of it that is really new. A lot of the content is similar but the idea of the thinking about mathematics, and writing about mathematics, and talking about mathematics, the depth to which we’re going to be doing that was really nice to see.”"

Hey, you said you were going "deep" when my son was in fifth grade. And they used to tell us how good MathLand and Everyday Math were. Many complain about the old "traditional" approach to mathematics, but it hasn't been seen around here for probably two decades.

“How does Everyday Math align with common core standards? It’s going to take a tremendous effort to get us ready.”

Yeah, the old stuff was good, but this stuff (whatever it is) is going to be 2/3 years ahead. It's so good that it will ensure that you won't need remedial courses in college. Maybe.

Allan Folz said...

I wish I were a more mellow person. I'd be able to roll my eyes dismissively when I hear "old stuff" and "traditional approach" disparaged.

Instead it makes me want to knock the person saying it in the head like they are one of the Three Stooges.

Those "traditional approaches" that all the men and women ("computer" used to be a job description like "secretary," and like secretary, they were predominately women) from 2 and 3 generations ago learned from developed jet propulsion, rocket propulsion, telegraph, telephone, radio transmission, nuclear reaction (love them or hate them, it's no minor accomplishment), semi-conductors and the silicon transistor, plastics...

Genevieve said...

We have been mostly lucky when it comes to Math acceleration for my daughter's school. Math seems to be the one area where the school seems to understand that some children need accelerated instruction.

The bad side of it is that the school doesn't think about how the students come to be more advanced at math. The school just thinks that my daughter naturally came to be over 2 grades advanced in math. In reality we spent time at home working on Singapore math.
There is also a large sorting that happens at the end of 5th grade. Students take a math placement test and that determines whether they will go to normal 6th grade math, accelerated 6th grad math, pre-Algebra or in a few cases Algebra. So the road to Algebra in 8th grade is determined in 5th grade. If parents don't work at home with their children, there is little chance of being put in the accelerated groups. Still, I am glad that they offer the acceleration, because in all other subjects there is only "differentiation" (and perhaps remedial reading) in the middle school.

The only concern that has arisen is that my daughter's principal mentioned last year that he didn't think he would need an extra accelerated math group for 5th grade because with Common Core the old 6th grade math standards were going to be 5th grade standards. Luckily, my daughter will be covering 7th grade math in 5th grade, so we no longer have to worry about that.

SteveH said...

"There is also a large sorting that happens at the end of 5th grade."

Our sorting happens in 6th grade based on a test, and I remember a number of parents were surprised by it. If you didn't get onto the top track, then it would be tough to get there. It would be tough to get to any STEM career. I've always wanted the school to send home a questionnaire to the parents of the kids in the top level asking them what they did at home.

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