kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/24/13 - 3/3/13

Saturday, March 2, 2013

scratch Columbia off the list

From The Fundamentals of College and University Teaching
by Steven Mintz, Director, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Center Columbia University:
In recent years, a model of higher education that emphasized the transmission of knowledge and skills has given way to a new paradigm, which shifts the focus from the instructor and toward the student. This is a shift from transactional to transformative teaching.

In transactional teaching, an instructor conveys information and students are expected to assimilate and synthesize new knowledge on their own.

Transformational teaching, in contrast, is much more self-conscious about its objectives and methods. It adopts a learner-centered rather than an instructor-centered approach...It gives students assignments that they find meaningful, involving case studies, real-world data and problems, research and inquiry, and encourages them to public display their findings.


Teaching can be didactic, emphasizing the transfer of information. It can be philetic, in which the teacher serves as role model and mentor. It can be evocative, assisting students in discovering the personal meaning of a topic or text, rather than seeking some larger truth. Then there is heuristic teaching, which engages students in a process of inquiry and discovery to help them develop the habits of a particular discipline.
Didactic, philetic, evocative, heuristic --- killer list! that it?

Only four kinds of "teaching"?

Aren't there others?

Other kinds of teaching, like .... off the top of my head ... irresponsible.

Irresponsible teaching. That's one, definitely.

Or unaccountable. That's another.

Irresponsible .... unaccountable .... ineffective ..... oppressive .... depressive ..... unsound .... unhinged .... harebrained....

I could go on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NY state technology standards

I've just heard from a parent here....

My district is considering cutting French, Latin, and Greek --- and adding a technology teacher to K-5 in order to meet NY state's "technology standards."

I had no idea we had "technology standards," but come to find out, we do.

I do remember, back when David Steiner had first been appointed Commissioner of Education, attending a lecture at which he told us that the Board of Regents considered 'technology' very important. I think he may have said that he'd had some debate on the subject with one particular member of the Board, but I'd have to check my notes to make sure. Since checking my notes would entail finding my notes, that may not be happening. (Was I still using my AlphaSmart then?)

Does Common Core have "technology" standards?

Elementary and Intermediate Grade Levels

Standard 1 – Analysis, Inquiry, and Design
Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering
design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Standard 2 – Information Systems
Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using
appropriate technologies.

Standard 5 – Technology
Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use,
and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.

Standard 6 – Interconnectedness – Common Themes
Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect
mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other
areas of learning.

Standard 7 – Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science,
and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

The whole megillah

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meyer, Steiner, & Bauerlein on Thursday at CUNY

Peter Meyer is moderating Steiner & Bauerlein!
The ELA Common Core Standards: The path to a better educated America?

The ELA Common Core has been called the most radical change in American public education in the last 50 years. On the eve of the introduction of these standards into thousands of classrooms , join Dr. David Steiner and Dr. Mark Bauerlein for a provocative discussion about how the ELA Common Core will transform our schools.

Thursday, February 28
Roosevelt House at CUNY
Reception: 5:30 PM
Discussion: 6:15 PM
Where: 47-49 E. 65th St., New York, NY, 10065
65th between Madison & Park

Register here
I just signed up to go.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

preview of Erica Meltzer's SAT book

Erica has posted a Preview of her forthcoming book on SAT reading: The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Critical Reading.

Erica's book is going to be the book on SAT reading.

Her book is going to have a great deal to teach students about reading, period.

From the Introduction:
Eight years elapsed between my last SAT, which I took as a senior in high school, and the first time I was asked to tutor Critical Reading. I distinctly remember sitting in Barnes and Noble, hunched over the Official Guide, staring at the questions in horror and thinking, “Oh wow, this test is hard. How on earth did I ever get an 800 on this thing when I was seventeen?” Mind you, I felt completely flummoxed by Critical Reading after I had earned a degree in literature.

Somehow or other, I managed to muddle through my first Critical Reading tutoring sessions. I tried to pretend that I knew what I was doing, but to be perfectly honest, I was pretty lost. I had to look up answers in the back of the book. A lot. I lost count of the number of times I had to utter the words, “I think you’re right, but give me one second and let me just double-check that answer...” It was mortifying. No tutor wants to come off as clueless in front of a sixteen year-old, but I was looking like I had no idea what I was doing. Grammar I could handle, but when it came to teaching Critical Reading, I was in way over my head. I simply had no idea how to put into words what had always come naturally to me. Besides, half the time I wasn’t sure of the right answer myself.

Lucky for me, fate intervened in the form of Laura Wilson, the founder of WilsonPrep in Chappaqua, New York, whose company I spent several years writing tests for. Laura taught me about the major passage themes, answer choices patterns, and structures. I learned the importance of identifying main point, tone and major transitions, and the ways in which that information can allow a test-taker to spot correct answers quickly, efficiently, and without second-guessing. I discovered that the skills that the SAT tested were in fact the exact same skills that I had spent four years honing.

As a matter of fact, I came to realize that, paradoxically, my degree in French was probably more of an aid in teaching Critical Reading than a degree in English would have been. The basic French literary analysis exercise, known as the explication de texte linĂ©aire, consists of close reading of a short excerpt of text, during which the reader explains how the text functions rhetorically from beginning to end – that is, just how structure, diction, and syntax work together to produce meaning and convey a particular idea or point of view. In other words, exactly the skills tested on Critical Reading. I had considered explications de texte a pointless exercise (Rhetoric? Who studies rhetoric anymore? That’s so nineteenth century!) and resented being forced to write them in college – especially during the year I spent at the Sorbonne, where I and my (French) classmates did little else – but suddenly I appreciated the skills they had taught me. Once I made the connection between what I had been studying all that time and the skills tested SAT, the test suddenly made sense. The close reading skills I had spent four years being forced to hone came remarkably in handy. I suddenly had something to fall back on when I was teaching, and for the first time, I found that I no longer had to constantly look up answers.
Erica's website: The Critical Reader

Erica's other books:
Eight Multiple Choice SAT Writing Tests: The Companion Workbook to The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar
The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar