Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bolin Is Hollering That Feds Are Coming, But Is He Right

Bolin at times like to come across as the canary in the coal mine when it comes to warning us about the complete destruction of society as we know it thanks to the Feds and the Common Core.  Originally he was against the Common Core because he didn't want any one to tell him how to teach history.  Now he realizes that he has to "tear it out root and branch."

There was a lot of push back against the idea that the federal government is going to micro-manage your classroom as Bolin claims.  Dr. Schopp pointed out that she believes that it actually gives more flexibility to the schools.  Phyllis Heineman pointed out that she felt it will all be in the implementation of the standards.  That will be the key.  Dr. Melmer stated, “I believe that these standards are better off then what we have right now.” 

Who is right?  I think that the jury is still out on this one.  Bolin is sounding like a cranky old man off his rocker with the hyperbolic claims that the evil people from Washington want to claim your children; however, are they really better then what we have right now as Melmer claims?

Here are a couple of the reading standards for 11-12

1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.  6. Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Here are a couple of the math standards for 3rd graders
Identify arithmetic patterns (including patterns in the addition table or multiplication table), and explain them using properties of operations. For example, observe that 4 times a number is always even, and explain why 4 times a number can be decomposed into two equal addends.  
Represent a fraction 1/b on a number line diagram by defining the interval from 0 to 1 as the whole and partitioning it into b equal parts. Recognize that each part has size 1/b and that the endpoint of the part based at 0 locates the number 1/b on the number line. 
Do as both Dr. Schopp and Mr. Vander Hart state and check out the standards.  I am not a huge fan of the Common Core.  I think that there are real concerns.  I think Mr. Vander Hart did point out one of the problems:  The standards are confusing and a bit unclear.  I also fear moving away from teaching fictional texts for memos and instruction books.  A fear that has been shared many times by other English teachers like Mr. Kallis.  A fear that intensified when I watched the Colbert Report and Arne Duncan could not deny that students will have to be able to interrupt memos and instruction books.

I think that Schopp was correct in saying that we need to move away from the old teaching style and try to engage students more.  I don't know if new standards are the means to do it.  I think the means to do that are to help train teachers in utilizing technology, encouraging teachers to move away from bubble tests that focus on memorization, and find new ways to reach students through things like teaching gardens that make learning real for students.

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