kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/12/12 - 2/19/12

Saturday, February 18, 2012

sometimes life surprises you

at the Parents Forum

This school board, my school board, has won my respect, my appreciation, and my affection forever.

All five members.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Father of Algebra assignment

From an Algebra 2 class.  Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Would you guess this comes from an IB classroom or a Classical School classroom?
Anything like this in college level math courses?

Help Desk: Forming and joining sentences

I was working with my 10 year old DS on an assignment the other day.  He wrote a sentence with the word "but" separating two independent clauses.   At first, it sounded "okay" (hard to tell sometimes because he's young and his wording is still awkward at times).  Upon further examination, I realized the second part of the statement didn't refer to the first part.  He was mimicking good sentence structure, but wasn't "connecting" the facts correctly.

So I'm wondering: Do any of you know a good curriculum we can use at home that will help him do either (or both) of these things:

1. Build solid sentences:  I would like to teach him how to take a simple sentence ("Jack ran") and "connect" elements to it to make interesting sentences that are logically correct ("Realizing the train was closer than he thought, Jack ran quickly to the end of the tunnel, diving into the bushes and avoiding certain death.").

2. Connect sentences into paragraphs that make sense and flow into the next paragraph

I'm looking for a nice, direct instruction-type approach.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Chris heard this afternoon.

He's in! College of Arts and Science.

Hard to process ----- but he's in & he's going - !

Starting over

Long-time readers & writers here at ktm know that for the past 6 years I've been politically involved in an effort to move my district off the classic high-SES suburban model: Teach, Test, and Hope for the Best Have the Parents Hire Tutors.

It hasn't been easy.

The single best observation anyone ever made about my district came from a woman who has put 4 children through the system: 
We're great because 10 kids do spectacular things by senior year. The other 150 will get by and there are no glaring inadequacies.
Today is a new beginning.

UPDATE 7/19/2013:

OK, it's not a new beginning.

Monday, February 13, 2012

NY Regents Exam: ELA edition

This year, for the first time, high schools students must score at least 65 on the English exam, as well as on four other state tests — math, science, global history and United States history — to earn a diploma.

The three-hour English test includes 25 multiple choice questions; one essay; and two short responses that are each supposed to be a paragraph long. A short response is scored 0 to 2 points. A student who gets 1’s on both responses has a pretty good shot at scoring 65 and passing the exam.

Here, from the state teachers’ scoring guide, is an excerpt from a short response written by an unnamed student. The guide says it deserves a score of 1:

These two Charater have very different mind Sets because they are creative in away that no one would imagen just put clay together and using leaves to create Art.

Theoretically, passing the English Regents would mean that a student could read and write.

Here is the topic sentence of another student’s short response that, according to the state guide, also deserves a 1:

In the poem, the poets use of language was very depth into it.

Despite Focus on Data, Standards for Diploma May Still Lack Rigor By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: February 5, 2012
There is no excuse for this. None.

Now that I'm teaching the most remedial college writing course at my local college, I see how quickly students can pick up grammatically correct and coherent writing, not to mention proper spelling, when you keep them on track and on task. Granted, it's not so easy keeping students on track and on task when you see them just twice a week for just 14 weeks, but NY public schools have these kids 40 weeks a year for 13 years.

A couple of months ago, Ed and I went to the funeral of our neighbor and close friend's father. He was a 6th grade teacher in the 1960s, I think it was, and after his death our friend's husband had discovered a box of short essays his father in law's students had written about their teacher. The children were supposed to write what they thought of his teaching.

Each of the papers was crystal clear, coherent, grammatically correct, and very dear. The children's prose was vivid and alive, and we saw our friend's father in their words. We remembered him.

In 6th grade, in the 1960s 1950s.