kitchen table math, the sequel: 6/9/13 - 6/16/13

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Best productivity app ever


Looking at the "How I use Workflowy" post, I realize I have forgotten everything about GTD (Getting Things Done).

Interesting. The violin teacher is using Workflowy to assign and monitor practice.

Friday, June 14, 2013

One more reason to homeschool

The court held 9-5 that despite compulsory education laws the school did not have a "special relationship" with its students that would give rise to a duty to protect them from harm from other students.

District Not Liable in Student Bullying, Appeals Court Rules
Mark Walsh | June 06, 2013

Apple wins $50-million dollar LA contract (half-billion eventually)

Apple Recommended for Major L.A. Schools Tech. Contract
By Sean Cavanagh on June 14, 2013 8:00 AM

Apple Inc. has been recommended to receive a lucrative contract from the Los Angeles Unified School District to begin implementing one of the most ambitious education-technology projects in the country, with the city's school board scheduled to vote on the issue next week.

A selection committee that reviewed applications for the project has called for the board to vote at its meeting Tuesday to select the Silicon Valley company from the 13 proposals submitted for the project, according to a report to be presented to the panel.

If approved, the decision would award Apple $30 million to begin a project to provide the nation's second largest school district with one computing device for every student and teacher in 47 schools. But the contract could eventually prove much larger, because the district has called for eventually providing a device for every student in the 660,000-student system, a project expected to cost $500 million.
And a chicken in every pot!

Common Core la-la-la

In a memo to the board, Mark Hovatter, the system's chief facilities executive, said the initial phase of work will include providing computing devices, storage and charging stations, a learning management system, upgrades to local area networks, and other services. The overall scope of the first phase of the technology project is expected to cost $50 million.

All of the work is designed to support the district's transition to implementing the Common Core State Standards, and the creation of an "individualized, interactive, and information-rich learning environment," he said.

Half a billion dollars is cheap if you're expecting high school kids to tell you who is to blame for Romeo and Juliet's deaths. You can't get a learning outcome like that with paper and pencil. No way.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


A friend of mine estimates that my tiny district is going to spend around $1 million on APPR alone.

My entire state has gone crazy.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 11-12

Assuming this means what I think it means, I am not seeing the value of Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2.

Off the top of my head, it strikes me that a work of literary nonfiction sufficiently sophisticated to be amenable to "thematic analysis" is going to be quite difficult for most students to read and comprehend, let alone identify not one but two themes, and analyze how the two themes interact and build on one another to produce a complex account, providing an objective summary of the text in the process.

(And does an objective summary of a text ever involve extended analysis of themes?)


In nonfiction?

I'm sure essays have themes (they must, right?), but I don't personally think of essays as having themes. I think of essays as having arguments. Arguments and evidence.

I have no idea what this standard means.

Or what a successful analysis of the way two themes interact and build on each other to produce a complex account would look like.

School is going to be so not fun if teachers actually try to teach these things.

How many Common Core standards are there?

According to Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, more than 1,300.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I've finally tuned in to Common Core a bit, mostly because I've been chatting with a Common Core person here in my town, who directed me to NYC's Tasks, Units & Student Work.

So today I took a quick look at NYC's sample ELA Tasks and Units and saw only one sample Task, across all 14 grades (Pre-K through Grade 12), that had anything whatsoever to do with fiction: Grade 9 Literacy in English Language Arts: Who Is to Blame for Romeo and Juliet’s Death.

It's always worse than you think!

Number one, Romeo and Juliet is too hard for 9th grade students to read, especially 9th grade students who've just spent 9 years reading "informational text" and writing "calls to action."

But, number two, even if 9th-grade students could read Romeo and Juliet, there is no earthly reason for anyone to undertake a "Task" that involves answering the question "Who Is to Blame for Romeo and Juliet's Death?"

Real English professors don't assign Tasks requiring students to figure out "Who Is To Blame for Romeo and Juliet's Death?" (Real English professors, in my experience, don't assign Tasks at all. They assign papers.)

Real English professors don't assign Tasks requiring students to figure out "Who Is To Blame for Romeo and Juliet's Death?" because Romeo and Juliet is a play, not a feature story in the New York Times. Romeo and Juliet are fictional characters; they don't actually exist.

Who is responsible for Romeo and Juliet's Death?

You got me.

William Shakespeare, maybe?

If this is Common Core, public school is about to turn into 13 years of SAT reading.

Thirteen years of SAT reading is nobody's idea of a good time. Let us pray that our policy elites do not manage to lengthen the school year before Common Core passes from the stage.

What actual English professors think students in English classes should write about:
Norton: Writing About Literature
Norton: Identifying Topics
English paper thesis statements 

The complete list of sample ELA tasks and units.

Onward and upward

Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.

The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

Officials: Most NYC High School Grads Need Remedial Help Before Entering CUNY Community Colleges | Basic Skills Like Reading, Writing And Math Need To Be Re-Learned | March 7, 2013 10:55 PM

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pop Quiz, Common Core edition

NOTE: the reading passage is on music.

Why does the author write that the Portuguese and the Spanish have been in California longer than the "Americans?"

A. to broaden the reader's idea of what should be considered "American" folk music

B. to argue that Hungarian, Finnish, and Armenian folk musics are not truly American

C. to suggest that "American" folk music is music that has not been imported to the continent

D. to convince the reader that the Portuguese and Spanish should not be considered minority groups in California