kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/16/14 - 2/23/14

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Uncommon Students in the Common Core

I have a piece on how special ed students are faring under the new Common Core Standards on the online Atlantic:

Friday, February 21, 2014

The stubbornness of thought

I've just come across the best explanation of the "Don't think of elephants" effect I've ever read:
Byrne is also right to emphasize the stubbornness of thought. Once you think something, it is very difficult to eradicate that idea from your mind. The late, brilliant social psychologist Dan Wegner described this as the great irony of mental control: in order to insure that you aren’t thinking about an unwanted idea, you have to continually turn your mind to that very idea. How do you know that you aren’t thinking of a white bear driving a red Ferrari unless you think about whether you’re thinking it?

FEBRUARY 19, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The known unknown

So last week I submitted the following list of questions prior to the high school administration's Common Core presentation:
On math:


  • Whither the flipped classroom? Common Core requires more reading, more challenging reading, and broader reading: how does “more reading” square with students spending up to two hours a night watching Powerpoints?
  • Are students reading any texts written prior to the 20th century?
  • Are students reading any of the exemplar texts recommended by Common Core guidelines?
  • How much time in English class is devoted to nonfiction?
  • What types of nonfiction are students reading in English class?
  • Has The Lucifer Effect been retired?
  • Will next summer’s reading lists be consistent with Common Core’s emphasis upon serious works of literary fiction and nonfiction?
  • Has any thought been given to creating a coherent, sequential, historically-organized curriculum in literary studies that would allow students to perceive the influence of earlier works on later ones (a critical component in understanding and appreciating fiction)?
  • Has any thought been given to providing a serious survey course in British literature?
  • Has any thought been given to teaching the Bible as literature (again: critically important to understanding the allusions in fiction)?
  • What does “close reading” look like at Irvington High School? (Since we last spoke, I’ve read the CC exemplars of close reading. The middle school’s work example, although it does show a student using evidence from the text to support a point, isn’t a close reading as CC defines the term.)
Superintendent response:

The presentation that has been planned for tonight is consistent with those that were delivered for the elementary and middle school levels and highlights the shifts associated with CCLS. Tonight’s presentation will not address specific concerns or topics within any one curriculum area.


Kristopher Harrison, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

That's not the right answer.

Question from Jen

What do you all think of My Math from McGraw Hill?
My Math is aligned to the CCSS and provides Differentiated Instruction through My Learning Station and Real-World Problem-Solving Readers. I will submit the request for a live webinar with a specialist as soon as I hear back from you.

Sounds ominous, but I haven't gone to look through yet.

I have looked through Jumpmath and would love to use it -- however, they don't have US versions of Grades 1-3 yet, only 4-7 (and our area is K-4). I could deal with explaining to kids about color vs. colour and meter vs. meter, but I'm not sure other teachers (or some parents) would be as, um, easy-going?!

Anyway, any knowledge that people have of My Math -- or of US schools using Jumpmath materials would be great.

And I do promise to do my own homework as well, but it will be the weekend before I have time to do a good job of looking through the curriculum. Unless there's so little of it there that we won't be able to tell about it anyway!

Thank you for any help the blog readers can give! --

Conjunction junction, après le déluge

I was searching for a transcript of Conjunction Junction when I came across the following exegesis of conjunctions, also entitled "Conjunction Junction" & inside a Prezi presentation, no less:
…if a conjunction is the 'Hitch,' the matchmaker, then the clauses are the two strapping young lovers (the two parts being joined).
  • Independent clauses can stand alone as sentences. In our Hitch analogy, they are the sassy, strong independent sugar mamas and sugar daddies.
  • Subordinate clauses are the gold diggers. They cannot stand alone as sentences. They begin with subordinate conjunctions, and are NEEDY.
  • They are like parasites. They depend on independent clauses for survival.
I've just read this passage out loud to Ed who says, "Obviously you should never use subordinate clauses."

Yet more evidence that something happened in 1985. *

Something bad.

* Wikipedia tells us that the first run of Schoolhouse Rock began in 1973 and ended in 1985.