Common Core--what's the big deal?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by AdamnJakesMommy, Jan 5, 2014.

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  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Teachers at our school with few exceptions have made the statement that teaching to the common core standards is simply good teaching. We're finding that a lot of it already goes on quite a bit at our school and we're not having to change much to implement them. I personally am using this opportunity to implement more writing in my science teaching and learning to teach kids how to reason and support claims with evidence, something which I've never fully understood before.

    I like them, but then again, I'm science, and apart from writing and reading more and analyzing scientific issues (which I love) it doesn't change as much for me as it would an English or Social Studies teacher.
     
  2. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    What don't you understand? Of course, if we are doing any sort of reading/writing-which we are- it would impact language arts. However, to never do an experiment, to never do dramatization of historic events, or cooperative group projects does not make sense to me. My district wants us to use literature and informational text-during our ELA block-to cover our science/ss standards. We don't have a specific block of time for science/ss.
     
  3. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    We can and we do teach SS and Science through literature and informational texts-that is what is expected. However, we do not have a science/ss block of time to do any sort of experiments, dramatizations, projects, etc. We have math and ELA blocks of time.
    I agree that critical thinking is the best thing about CC, however, I feel critical thinking can be done while analyzing a scientific conclusion of an experiment that they have done(more engaging), than reading about the same experiment in a book.
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't understand the part about doing science experiments not having a positive impact on their language arts.

    All the things you describe here have a direct positive impact on the students language arts. It will directly result in better scoring on language arts standardized tests.

    Embed the science and social studies into "language arts" that doesn't mean no science experiments, dramatizations..etc. Those all require direct use of ELA.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Doing a scientific conclusion is not a good use of ELA time in your district? Doing a science write up is not ELA?

    This is not a common core problem, this is your district is out of touch with teaching if they don't think science experiments, the thinking, and activities that surround them don't directly support ELA.
     
  6. Croissant

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    I've always loved the idea of teaching ELA and social studies together. I have nothing to base that love on, as I've never had the opportunity to try, but in my mind, they compliment each other. I don't like the idea, though, of only teaching science through ELA. And I can't stand the idea of teaching English solely through other content areas. Yes, having students answer questions in complete sentences, explain a process with a short paragraph, or orally present a project to the classuses the language arts, but it does not teach them. There is so much more to grammar and writing than physically saying or writing words. Frankly, every content area should incorporate those skills, and on behalf of all English teachers, I thank you if you are;however, please don't assume that by requiring little Johnny to explain that science experiment in a one-page report you have also taught a lesson in writing. You've provided him with a much needed opportunity to write, but you have not taught him to write.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Heaven forbid you use that time for a mini lesson or as an opportunity to actually teach.

    Example:
    Students are learning about ecosystems. Making models, designing different types of ecosystems for observation. All the hands on learning of science. You then have students write a compare and contrast of two different ecosystems. This is not an opportunity to TEACH compare and contrast?
     
  8. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Wow.
     
  9. Pashtun

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    Agreed.
     
  10. Croissant

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    I somehow missed your example before; I was only able to see the initial sentence....

    You're absolutely right, Pashtun. That would be a wonderful lesson. You could definitely incorporate writing. My point was not that ELA shouldn't be incorporated into all content areas, quite the opposite. I'm simply saying that it shouldn't be completely absorbed by other areas. Your example would be a wonderful way to teach text structure/organization and evidence-based writing. I suppose there may be non-language arts teachers out there who could make it work as a writing lesson, but my guess is most would focus only on content. Unfortunately, speaking from my personal experience, many (maybe most?) would not be qualified to help with sentence structure, subject/verb agreement, word choice, thesis sentences, voice, or poetic devices. Not to mention, we stomp on the creative expression aspect of writing if we expect them to do all of their writing within a specific content area.
     
  11. gr3teacher

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    Okay, now that I'm cooled down enough to respond to you without responding too angrily, here is the first time you misrepresented me, either intentionally or unintentionally. Had you read my post and the one I was responding to, I was pointing out that using solely "book work" was not a good way of teaching science.

    Here you are... agreeing with me and then calling me wrong, all while still misrepresenting me (assuming that I'm who you are referring to as justifying teaching to the test). Again, I wasn't justifying doing nothing but doing "test problems," though apparently somehow you decided that is what I tried to say. Since I didn't explicitly say so earlier (granted, I thought it was strongly implied...), I don't agree with teaching to the test, using nothing but testing-type materials, though you'd better believe I have sat in meetings with administrators expecting me to do so, and you'd REALLY better believe that plenty of other teachers have, also. No, it's not best practice, and it's not the best way to get good test scores, but if the ONLY thing concerning an administrator/school board member is test scores, then it's going to happen, strictly for CYA purposes.

    Now, if you're going to quote me, respond to me, and mock my "position" in subsequent posts, can you make sure you at least get my position right?
     
  12. Pashtun

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    I took your saying "more time doing these of problems..." as more time than anything else regarding teaching science.

    Am I wrong? What did you mean by more time on teaching to the test?
     
  13. gr3teacher

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    If, as a teacher my only concern is how my students will perform on a multiple choice test in a specific format, it would make sense for me to spend the bulk of my time teaching and giving assignments in that format. If as a teacher, my sole concern is a number on an EOY test, then any time spent "doing science," giving labs, developing hypotheses, etc., is time wasted. This is the reality currently being seen in many schools where teachers are being told not to do these things. On this board, there are plenty of special education teachers who have talked about their experience being unable to teach actual science skills to their students because the concern is solely on reading and writing. At my school, right this second, there are five students who do not participate in any science labs or typical science instruction, instead receiving a double-dose of guided reading, occasionally with science texts. One of those students is a blind student in my room, over my extremely strenuous objections.

    In case I have no yet made it apparent, I do not agree with this philosophy, though I'm not going to judge a teacher for teaching this way upon orders from their administration, and do recognize it as a current reality.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Under CCCS, ELA standards are somewhat applicable across content areas...so science and social studies teachers are teaching how to read and write in their content areas, but not disregarding hands on, experiential, experimental kinds of learning.
    If well designed, PAARCC will test how well students learned the standards. The standards call for deep thinking, rigor and critical inquiry. It's not about teaching to the test...it's about teaching the standards. And teaching them deeply.
     
  15. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Disagree, not in anyway a waste of time. Will improve ELA test scores. We can agree to disagree.
     
  16. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Jan 6, 2014

    Joanne Yatvin: The Common Core Standards May Be Harmful to Children

    Not sure if this will help this discussion....

    The following article was written by Dr. Joanne Yatvin, who does a great job of pointing out problems with specific standards, and how easy it is to tell that the Common Core Standards were not created by educators or child learning specialists. Such specialists, such as Dr. Yatvin, have determined that they are harmful to the kids we expect to master them.
    http://atthechalkface.com/2014/01/0...on-core-standards-may-be-harmful-to-children/
     
  17. Go Blue!

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    Jan 6, 2014

    This is the complaint I have heard from other SS teachers; instead of the content being the main focus (history, economics, government), teaching literacy and writing skills is the main focus for SS under the CCSS. The content plays a relatively small supportive part. Some teachers are more ok with this than others.

    I have a friend at my old school and Admin wanted her to lead a novel study each quarter in her US history class like the ELA teachers do. The P was even ok if some of the books were historical YA fiction.

    Since my school has not come down on me to focus on less content and more process/teaching ELA skills, I don't mind the CCSS. But, I would not want to do novel studies or teach ELA processes AT ALL. Once again, I'm ok with the CCSS because it has yet to affect/change what or how I do my thing.:cool:
     
  18. HistoryVA

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    gr3teacher made it very clear that it was not "time wasted" in HER opinion, but in the opinion of the school who is directly telling teachers NOT to do anything not related to the EOY test. You can "agree to disagree" all you want, but since you're obviously not in a position where you're being told that, you're basically just calling her a liar in doing so.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm not finding Yatvin's thoughts particularly relevant to how the CCCS standards are being meaningfully implemented by the professionals with whom I work in my district and those I coach. Ms Yatvin's may be well educated, but a more careful reading of the standards would have enlightened her on the fact that THIRD graders read folktales, fables and myths under the CCCS....Thus, in 4th grade, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect students to figure out the meaning f 'Herculean' in context (my third graders can!). Other examples in her article are similarly misinformed statements r examples of misguided application of the standards.

    As part of my region's ELA curriculum committee, I joined with other working educational professionals over two years' time to unpack, translate and expand upon the standards for our participating districts. It's one thing to read the standards and react, it's quite another to engage in the meaningful task of understanding them, participate in discourse with other professionals who are ACTUALLY TEACHING TO THEM, and in designing lessons to best reach students and facilitate their success. Teachers are professionals...we know how to adjust to the ever changing, dynamic demands of shifting standards, tests, mandates without harming kids. I do think, however, that it is articles such as Yatvin's which are coloring the impressions parents and others who are not currently teaching the standards have of the Common Core.
     
  20. Pashtun

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    Didn't I already comment on that? That has nothing to do with common core, that is a district being out of touch with teaching. Has nothing to do with CCSS.

    Bad district is bad district.
     
  21. gr3teacher

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    You aren't acknowledging the fact that "bad districts" are becoming more common as testing becomes higher stakes, nor are you acknowledging that fact that it's not teachers choosing to teach this way.

    You also haven't commented (perhaps with an apology of some sort?) for your mischaracterizing my position and borderline insults.
     
  22. knitter63

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    I agree on this. Being an urban district who has the state breathing down their necks to raise test scores makes it easy for them to push teaching ELA and math only.
    I think you misunderstood my original point. I see the value of it, and most of my colleagues do as well. My point is that if we are truly embedding content material, we need to incorporate content such as science experiments to do so.
     
  23. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Oh, and for the record, I don't think my district is a bad district. I think that since our wonderful governor has taken away so much funding for education, that districts such as mine, who cannot rely on the passing of levies for funding, will do whatever they can to get as much money from the state. If that means we are told to teach to a test, then so be it.
    I am an effective teacher, and my test scores prove it. My point was that I don't believe that the common core is all that it is cracked up to be. In a perfect world, maybe. But right now, districts like mine are struggling because we don't have the means(or parental support) to teach the common core like it is meant to be taught-deeply.
     
  24. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    This.
     
  25. nstructor

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    Do high test scores mean a teacher is effective?
     
  26. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Politicians sure seem to think so....:rolleyes:
     
  27. a2z

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    Or the parents are..... hence the push for parent intervention. A parent willing to hire a tutor or teach the child at home in addition to school makes for high scores.

    I think the big question is, what does effective mean? I think the public believes that effective means the student learned and can demonstrate the standards for the grade and can critically think. Teachers define it differently and as seen here, even within the group there is disagreement as to what makes an effective teacher. The public focuses on results. Teachers focus on the process.
     
  28. gr3teacher

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    High test scores can mean a lot of different things. It could mean a teacher is effective, but it just as easily can mean that you have a child capable of doing answering math and reading test questions but who don't have the foggiest idea about anything having to do with science, social studies, music, art, health, physical education...

    Note that I didn't say high test scores actually guarantee even being good at math or reading. Most of the tests are heavily MC-based, and any writing required is typically pretty superficial. It's a lot easier to teach a student test-taking strategies than it is to teach math and reading, and the effects aren't dramatically different.

    Or another way to think about it... who is a more effective teacher? The fifth grade teacher who gets 30 kids operating on a first grade level up to a third grade level, prior to all 30 kids bombing the fifth grade test, or the fifth grade teacher who gets 20 kids working on grade level, has all kids end the year on grade level, and gets 20 pass scores?
     
  29. a2z

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    I'm sorry, but if you have that many kids performing that poorly and the kids aren't cognitively disabled, you have a dysfunctional and ineffective school unless the fifth grade class size is over 1000 students.
     
  30. gr3teacher

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    1) True, it was an exaggeration to make a point.
    2) How does that have anything to do with the effectiveness of the teachers?
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My school (high school) regularly receives incoming freshmen who severely lack basic academic skills. I'm talking about numbers like 25% with passing standardized test scores from middle school. Most of those students are not on IEPs.

    While it could be true that their middle schools are "dysfunctional and ineffective", that argument doesn't fly around these parts. Why? Well, first of all, our students are coming in from a variety of middle schools. Are all those schools dysfunctional and ineffective? Possible, I suppose, although unlikely. Second, and more importantly, it really doesn't matter. We at the high school level are expected to get students proficient, no matter what. Sometimes this feels like we are expected to be miracle workers. We are constantly told that it doesn't matter where our students come from, only that we get them passing. That's how we are evaluated and assessed, too, both formally by our administrators and informally by parents and the general public.
     
  32. Pashtun

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    What do you mean by teachers focus on the process. What does this mean in the context of determining if a teacher is effective?
     
  33. gr3teacher

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    I think he means that teachers are worried about the day to day realities of a student learning... the how and the why.
     
  34. knitter63

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    According to the politicians who developed our new OTES evaluation system, yes.
    Since OTES wants 50% of my evaluation to be based on a test score, then I am effective in their eyes.
    However, in my heart, I know I am effective for reasons that can't be found on an end of the year test.
     
  35. Pashtun

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    Wasn't this in response to if a teacher is effective? Shouldn't teachers be concerned with if the how and the why is effective?
     
  36. Pashtun

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    Based on what? Not being mean, wondering what makes you feel effective that isn't measured on a year end test?
     
  37. a2z

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    I mean that when teachers talk about evaluating for effectiveness they look at things such as are teacher's implementing researched-based strategies, classroom management procedures, etc. Most believe if they are doing those things then the problem isn't with the effectiveness of the teacher. That teacher should be deemed effective. Process based results.

    The public, on the other hand, wants to see results. They believe if results aren't there, effectiveness isn't there because the end result does matter. If after 13 years in school a child is still functionally illiterate but has no disability, it is hard to say that the education received was effective. Results based results.

    When we are talking about large numbers of students not even close to grade level, it is obvious that what is being done is not working.
     
  38. a2z

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    I know this wasn't directed to me, but I believe that in most states the year end test is a bare minimum competency test that doesn't show all aspects of learning. However, it is a bare minimum test.

    I know there are tests that use a bell curve so that there will always be failures. I don't believe that any test that is scored in that manner should be used as an evaluation tool.

    I also believe that a test should not be the sole criteria used to measure effectiveness, but it should be considered.
     
  39. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't find out state testing results until after the school year, and even then, I am only given a number. They are utterly useless to me in terms of determining my effectiveness. Maybe if I was given meaningful data when I could actually alter my teaching... except that is what I'm already doing all year long.
     
  40. a2z

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    Having a breakdown would be helpful. I thought most states provided that to the school districts at which time that information could be used in any way the district chose to do so, but I know every state is different.

    When you find out the results is irrelevant to the future. It does impact the present though if there really is enough time after your state test to actually address the areas of weakness shown by the class.

    I agree being provided 1 number for each student doesn't give a lot of information.
     
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