common-core-state-standards

Teachers Are Supposed to Assign Harder Books, But They Aren’t Doing It Yet

One of the signature aspects of the new Common Core State Standards is their tougher demands on reading: They require students to read texts that are on grade level, even if the all students in a class aren’t able to read the works without assistance. 

Are America’s classrooms ready for this change? The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education-policy think tank that supports the Common Core, has just released a report that attempts to answer that question. Fordham researchers surveyed 1,154 public-school teachers of English, language arts, or reading: 300 elementary teachers (fourth and fifth grade), 370 middle-school teachers (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade), and 484 high-school teachers (ninth and tenth grade). All the teachers are in the 46 states that have adopted the Common Core.

Read more. [Image: Hellmy/Flickr]

Educators say they were told last year that the new test would be more rigorous. But some say they weren’t prepared for the new assessments to take three times as long as the former test. The Journal Review reported that testing schedules distributed by the state anticipate it will take third-grade students nine hours and 25 minutes to complete the test. Fourth-graders can expect 10 hours and 40 minutes of testing, while fifth-graders will face 10 hours and 30 minutes of testing, the newspaper reported.

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Teaching Channel: Education Update Links

Hey everyone!

Starting in February I began working as a production assistant for a joint project between WNET and Teaching Channel.

The videos are now available online through the Teaching Channel website as well as my friend/co-worker and associate producer of the project, Matthew Chao’s Vimeo page.

I find the Common Core Speaking and Listening standards insulting.

I went to the CC website to double check, and sure enough they are the EXACT same for 9/10 as 11/12.

How in the hell is that supposed to help me build my standards-based learning?

I know Indiana is still on her standards, and we HAVE speech standards, but COME ON.

I was trying to be creative and match current projects with BOTH standards, and the CC standards give NO specific guidelines as to the TYPES of speeches should be done.

So I have to jump over the writing standards for speech standard ideas.

This is ridiculous.  

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Stanford’s Reading Like a Historian project - Excellent video that’s also a pretty great argument for the Common Core State Standards in social studies. 75 lessons for US History with documents & graphic organizers are available here: http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45. I use the video in every Common Core presentation that I do because it makes me excited! Happy planning!

When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests

Teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School voted unanimously earlier this year not to give the district’s required reading and math test. They encountered predictable resistance from district officials and harsh criticism from outside observers. Many students and parents, however, sided with the teachers.

The PTA and student government leaders voted in support of the teachers, and many parents sent in “opt-out” letters to exempt their children from testing that they viewed as an inappropriate measure of teachers’ effectiveness. And so when administrators came to class with lists of kids who needed to take the tests during the spring testing period, many students were exempted and others students simply refused to go with the administrators.

There was “the most incredible sense of solidarity in the building,” recalls Garfield history teacher Jesse Hagopian.

Parents who opt out generally do so out of concern that too much time is being taken with testing (and test preparations), that tests are not reliable or valid measures of what students know, and that tests are being used to rate schools, teachers, and students in ways that aren’t fair.

Read more. [Image: Joe Raymond/AP Photo]

Common Core and The Author
  • Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
  • Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).
  • Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
  • Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
The following are from grades 9-12 CCC/ELA literature standards.  I have great difficulty with these standards from a theoretical standpoint.  They are presented as if there is a “right” answer, as if we can call up the author to give readers the correct answer for our multiple choice test.   Common Core places far too much emphasis on authorial intent, and that is flawed when most of the secondary canon is Dead White Guys whom we can’t poke for answers.   Only one standard addresses interpretation:
  • Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
But even that isn’t asking for the STUDENT’S interpretation.  It’s asking for other people’s interpretation, with no springboard forward into the “Now, why does this matter?” pool.   Common Core does nothing but emphasize the student’s relationship with the text doesn’t matter.  It makes them passive readers and makes them feel as though their opinions don’t matter because they aren’t the Right Answer. As much as I loathed New Criticism for its strict adherence to The Text Stands Alone, at least that is preferable than this idea that we can construct authorial intent out of thin air.  
30,000 iPads, 47 schools, one vision begins

Earlier this month 1,500 teachers in Los Angeles received their shiny new iPads. It’s the first step to equipping every teacher and student in the district with an iPad, a vision which is hoped to be realised within a year. 

The scheme comes in response to the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, a US federal programme that aims to redesign education to better prepare their young people for the demands of the modern world.

Barbara Jones of the LA Daily News was at the three day training programme to see what teachers thought of their new toys, and to speak with Pearson’s Judy Codding about the learning content software we’ve developed that sits on each iPad.

(via Education Week: L.A. District Launches Teacher Training for $30M iPad Project)

Don’t Write Off Cursive

Cursive is an art. It’s woven into the very fabric of the United States constitution. Yet, everywhere we look, it’s literally being written out of existence. Like a sandcastle built at the edge of the sea, with each crashing wave, the strokes of cursive are slowly fading away.

Once at the very heart of public school education, cursive is aggressively being replaced by computer classes. As of today, 45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for English, which omits cursive from required curricula in schools today.

Instead of learning the basics of cursive handwriting, children are increasingly being introduced to the nuances of the keyboard. There’s absolutely no denying the importance that computers play in our world. You’re reading this in print, on a computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Yet, we wonder, how widespread is this phenomenon?

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

ENDORSEMENT: Nicholas J. Stamates (write-in) for 20th Senate District of Wisconsin

While there’s only one candidate, far-right Republican Duey Stroebel, who has his name on the ballot in the upcoming special election in the 20th Senate District of Wisconsin, which includes the northern part of the Milwaukee suburbs and rural areas east of Fond du Lac, there is a Democrat who is running a write-in campaign against Stroebel: Nicholas J. Stamates.

Stamates isn’t interested in…

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Teaching Channel: Education Update Pt. 5

Here’s the last and final: High School All of them are uploaded to my Vimeo site as well, which you can go to to see all of my work, but I also made an album just for them. 

Education Update: High School from Matthew Chao on Vimeo.

Links to all the videos on Teaching Channel.

Common Core State Standards for Math

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy

Common Core State Standards for Elementary School

Common Core State Standards for Middle School

Common Core State Standards for High School

Apparently you can see it on teaching channel’s youtube channel too.Look for the ones that say “Common Core State Standards”

Word Wars: Shakespeare, Hip Hop, and the Common Core

Word Wars: Shakespeare, Hip Hop, and the Common Core

Every Wednesday morning, I visit a class of very smart, insightful, and surprisingly alert (considering class starts at 7:30 am) 11th graders during their English class. This week, they were finishing up their analyses of Hamlet soliloquies, and I took this opportunity to ask a few lingering questions about Shakespeare and Hip Hop (see previous post). What are some reasonable points of comparison?

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