Here’s one on finding “evidence” in a painting to support an argument or “claim,” a very Core-ish endeavor.
Literature can teach “wisdom,” writes Michael Godsey, an Advanced Placement English teacher, in The Atlantic. But Common Core standards favor “objective analysis” and information extraction.
The Common Core promotes 10 so-called “College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards” for reading that emphasize technical skills like analyzing, integrating, and delineating a text
College readiness is not the same as life readiness, Godsey argues.
. . . I’m making plans to teach the students how to “evaluate the sufficiency of the evidence” instead of asking them, “Who here sympathizes with Hamlet, or Ophelia, or any character, and how so?”
A consultant told Godsey to “ditch literature” since “literary fiction is not critical to college success.”
Achieve the Core, for example, an organization founded by the lead writers of the standards, explicitly encourages schools to teach students to “extract” information so they can “note and assess patterns of writing” without relying on “any particular background information” or “students having other experiences or knowledge.”
“None of the state assessments has a single question about the content of any classic literature,” he writes. It’s all about reading skills. There goes the “secular wisdom” of American culture.
Common Core tests set kids up to fail, argues Jennifer Rickert, a sixth-grade teacher in New York, on Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet.
The “New York State Testing Program’s Educator Guide to the 2015 Grade 6 Common Core English Language Arts Test” describes expectations that are way too high, writes Rickert.
At 11 and 12 years old, her students have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical situations, she writes, citing Piaget’s theories.
Yet in the guide, it states that students will “evaluate intricate arguments.”
In addition, “students will need to make hard choices between fully correct and plausible, but incorrect answers that are designed specifically to determine whether students have comprehended the entire passage.” This is not developmentally appropriate for my students . . .
Students will read passages from texts such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which include “controversial ideas and language some may find provocative.”
Children shouldn’t be subjected to “provocative language” in sixth grade, Rickert believes. In addition, sixth graders won’t be able to understand these readings because they don’t study the history till seventh or eighth grade.
Some readings will be at the eleventh-grade level. Presumably that’s to challenge the very good readers. Rickert sees it as a plot to humiliate everyone else.
I read, and loved, Tom Sawyer in elementary school. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made a big impression on me when I was in sixth grade. I also read lots of U.S. history and historical novels, so I had the context to understand what I was reading.
Piaget is not a reliable guide to what children can learn, writes cognitive scientist Dan Willingham in a critique of the “developmentally appropriate” concept.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo “has declared war on the public schools,” charges Karen E. Magee, president of the state teachers’ union.
The Democratic governor thinks too hard to fire underperforming teachers, wants to raise or eliminate the limit on charter schools and backs a tax credit for people and companies donating money to public schools and private school scholarships, reports the New York Times.
Chester Finn calls Gov. Cuomo’s education agenda “awesome (and radically union-unfriendly).”
“Its single boldest and most surprising item is the governor’s endorsement of a tax-credit scholarship program so that more young New Yorkers can afford to attend private schools,” writes Finn. That makes Cuomo “the first Democratic governor ever to propose a program of private-school choice for kids and families in his state.”
Should Teachers be Allowed to Touch Students? asks Jessica Lahey. She teaches English and writing at an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. “Many of my adolescent students have endured sexual and physical abuse,” she writes.
Schools are adopting no-touching policies for their students. Teachers fear a pat on the shoulder could be seen as aggressive or sexual or . . . who knows?
Touch can built trust, says David J. Linden, a Johns Hopkins neuroscience professor, is the author of a new book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind. “More than anything else, what touch conveys is ‘I’m an ally, I’m not a threat.”
However, context determines how touch is perceived, Linden told Lahey.
An arm thrown over your shoulders by a domineering boss is perceived very differently than an arm thrown around your shoulders by a trusted friend, for example.
“Appropriate social touch in school is vitally important to children who do not experience it at home, or for children who are abused,”says Linden. “It’s important for kids to realize that there is a role for social touching that isn’t abuse, that’s simply a normal and healthy means of bonding with other human beings.”
When I started tutoring school kids, I had to pay to be fingerprinted and prove I’m not on the state’s data base of sex offenders. I decided not to touch a child on the arm or shoulder, not to hug.
Researchers analyzed 17 low-performing schools in 11 districts that expanded the school day. Test scores and graduation rates improved. But the longer day wasn’t the only change.
Successful schools used “community partnerships to provide extra enrichment programs and services the school’s budget couldn’t cover,” writes Richmond.
Teachers who have more opportunities to collaborate with each other tend to be more effective at their jobs, particularly in their work with students. “An hour of professional development seems to be almost as helpful to teachers, and in some cases more helpful, than an hour in the classroom,” said Matthew Frizzell, a policy center research associate and one of the report’s co-authors.
Boston schools with longer days have seen mixed results, reports the Boston Globe.
For many schools, a longer day has failed to dramatically boost academic achievement or did so only temporarily. The uneven results prompted school district officials to scrap the extra minutes at some schools and the state to pull funding or pursue receiverships at others.
But other schools have successfully used an extended day to boost MCAS scores or expand offerings in the arts and other electives.
“I think there are lessons to be learned,” said John McDonough, interim superintendent. “We know time matters, but it only matters if it is used well.”
At the Eliot K-8 Innovation School, which added an hour to its school day, there’s more time for enrichment, reports the Globe.
On Monday morning, 25 third-graders built and programmed motorized cars out of Legos in a robotics class. Students said they did not mind the longer school day.
“Time goes by fast,” said John D’Amico, 8.
As the students buzzed the cars around the classroom, their regular classroom teacher, Holly McPartlin, mentored a new teacher downstairs, observing her teach and then providing feedback.
Eliot is considered a model of good implementation. But the Edwards Middle School, once “the poster child for the success of the extended-day movement in Massachusetts,” has seen performance slide after “a high turnover of principals,” reports the Globe.
From Whiteboard Advisors, Education Insiders predict the future:
Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb, writes cognitive scientist Dan Willingham in the New York Times. Digital devices don’t even destroy our attention spans. “We can focus,” he writes. But we may not want to.”
In a 2012 Pew survey, nearly 90 percent of teachers said their students can’t pay attention the way they could a few years ago.
It may be that digital devices have not left us unable to pay attention, but have made us unwilling to do so.
The digital world carries the promise of amusement that is constant, immediate and limitless. If a YouTube video isn’t funny in the first 10 seconds, why watch when I can instantly seek something better on BuzzFeed or Spotify? The Internet hasn’t shortened my attention span, but it has fixed a persistent thought in the back of my mind: Isn’t there’s something better to do than what I’m doing?
. . . People’s performance on basic laboratory tests of attention gets worse if a cellphone is merely visible nearby. In another experiment, people using a driving simulator were more likely to hit a pedestrian when their cellphone rang, even if they had planned in advance not to answer it.
Digital devices encourage “near constant outwardly directed thought” at the expense of time for reflection, Willingham concludes. “A flat cap on time with devices — the restriction we first think of for ourselves and our kids — might help.”
Kids spend hours a day looking at screens, writes Alexandra Ossola in The Atlantic. Doctors fear screen junkies will suffer posture problems, carpal-tunnel pain, neck strain and eye problems, she writes.
Close to half—46 percent—of all third-grade boys, on average, use screens for more than two hours per day, and that usage increases to 70 percent of boys on average by the time they reach ninth grade. Fewer third-grade girls—43 percent—use screens compared with their male counterparts, but that rate jumps to surpass boys’ average usage in ninth grade, to more than 90 percent of girls.
“Girls may have been doing more homework than the boys, and the boys may have been doing more sports [away from screens] or playing more video-games on hand-held devices,” says a pediatrician.
Some parents limit children’s screen time.