Common Core

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tired Teacher, Aug 31, 2019.

  1. Tired Teacher

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    What is the main theme of Common Core? I have heard about people who disliked it for years. Now it seems some teachers like it. I mixed up Race to the Top with Common Core neither of which our state participates in....so we get no training in it.
    Is it anything like showing the kids different ways to solve math problems? My cousin ( Ohio) showed me the lattice for multiplication and I love it. The kids learn it so quickly that way. I show them because I think they are fun. It is fun to see them catch it in a day or 2, but I have to go back and teach it the regular way too because the teacher above me really does not like it. Is there a philosophy to it? Do you like it?
     
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  3. MissCeliaB

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    Common Core is a set of standards. All the list is is what a student should be able to do by what grade. Race to the Top is a funding program for education tied to certain initiatives to increase equality in educational outcomes.

    I am always shocked at home many teachers do no t understand what Common Core is. My math teaching methods textbook demonstrates all of the methods that get called "Common Core Math" and the version I have was published a good ten years before Common Core was a thing. Those are just best practices for teaching conceptual math. So, in that teachers have started using research-based instructional strategies, I guess the philosophy of Common Core is to teach the ways that research shows are the best ways for students to learn.
     
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  4. Tired Teacher

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    In TX, many yrs ago, I taught when Bush was governor and he brought out NCLB. It caused testing to the extreme. Parents paid for billboards that said: Teach children not...TAAS which was 1 of the tests then.
    We had standards way back then of what kids needed to know in each grade level and we have them here too. They just aren't called Common Core. The standards may just be different, I am guessing.
    Didn't states who agreed to take funding for the Race to the Top, get stuck having to use Common Core? I may have really messed that up in my head that time frame. :)
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    No. The requirement was:

    "Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the workplace"

    Common Core would meet that requirement, and many states adopted it, but it wasn't required in name.
     
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  6. Ima Teacher

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    Our state (Kentucky) standards were not all that different.

    It’s just what we have to teach, not how we teach it. I don’t get why people get so bent out of shape over Common Core standards. I wonder if they might be really different from other are so similar to what I always used that maybe I just don’t see how it changed what others had to do.

    Kentucky didn’t do Race to the Top. We did adopt Common Core. They are called Kentucky Academic Standards.
     
  7. gr3teacher

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    It wasn't formally required, but only states that adopted it actually got any money from it, even in cases where the existing state standards were functionally the same.

    Kentucky did do RttT. They applied in both phase 1 and phase 2, then finally won a grant in phase 3.
     
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  8. bella84

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    That may be true, but RTTT was announced as an initiative nearly a year before CCSS, when the CCSS were still being developed. So it’s unlikely that they were originally intended to be tied together. It seems more likely that states felt that adopting CCSS was an easy way to meet the RTTT requirement, so they did.
     
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  9. gr3teacher

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    Development on CCSS was announced on June 1, 2009, while RttT was announced on July 24, 2009. I'm inclined to agree that they were probably not conceived simultaneously, but it's also pretty clear that states were signing on just because of RttT.
     
  10. Ima Teacher

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    The grants were localized, not for anything statewide. There was one for early childhood in some rural areas.
     
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  11. otterpop

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    I've got no issue with the CCSS. My issue is with the standardized, high-stakes testing that was implemented following the CCSS.
     
  12. futuremathsprof

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    I think CCSS on their own are great, but their tedious and oftentimes ridiculous implementation in elementary schools turns a lot of people off, myself included. No Child Left Behind put an unattainable expectation on teachers and school districts for all students to achieve 100% proficiency, which has never happened across all student bodies collectively. I think standardized tests are an important way to gauge if students are learning, but they don’t always tell the full story.

    I think in schools where there are high rates of student truancies and high attrition rates, that those kinds of things should be considered when assessing schools. Test scores don’t always tell the full story — they are still mightily useful, though — but they shouldn’t solely be used to measure school performance. Statistical analyses should account for multiple factors because poorer schools are very much multifaceted.

    Now, I am going on a decade of private tutoring and I’ve taught thousands of students from all walks of life over the years. What’s more, I’ve had a great many successes teaching students number sense and place value and more advanced math concepts and I never once relied on methods I’ve seen in *some* texts adapted to CC. Yet, those methods keep getting pushed more and more as being the “right way” to teach mathematics. Those methods are not at all effective because they have not had a statistically significant effect on raising test scores. The idea is that students can understand these things better by using said methods, but the data suggests otherwise.
     
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  13. JimG

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    Care to share which specific methods you refer to, as well as the research which you claim has yielded statistically insignificant results?
     
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  14. Tired Teacher

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    Amen to that! This is something to think about. Have you ever had a P or admin who passed all of his tests and turned out to not know beans about teaching, getting along with others, and managing effectively?
    A computer test can't tell you how a person is going to fit in a school, get along w/ others, or lead. It just tells that he can pick the right answers. It doesn't mean he knows how to USE those interpersonal skills. To be an effective leader or teacher, for that matter, those skills are essential.
    I have been fortunate in my career to have only been stuck working for 1 like that for a short time. I have a few friends though who have worked for some admin that had passed their exams, but did not know how to USE those skills. Their schools turned into really bad places because of it.
    My dad had a PhD in organic chemistry and worked in the research lab for Procter and Gamble for years. He knew German and Russian languages as well as English. He could ace about any test you put in front of him, but no disrespect meant, he could not teach it for the life of him. I remember in U , I would get stuck sometimes on a problem. One time, I was desperate enough to call him and ask for help. ( I knew better, but was desperate...lol) He was a great guy, but would get frustrated that it did not come easily to everyone and had a hard time breaking it down to layman's terms.
    So, yeah! Tests do not tell it all, for sure!
     
  15. futuremathsprof

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  16. futuremathsprof

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    I am considered a content expert when it comes to mathematics and arguably many other subject matters. I pride myself on my collective body of mathematics and scientific knowledge. However, there is one ability I possess that I prize even higher than that and that is my innate ability to breakdown complex subject matters into lay terms so that the average person can understand. That is the reason why I am so successful as a tutor and educator.

    For example, Organic Chemistry is oftentimes said by students to be one the most difficult subjects. I showed/show my fellow students at university in all of my organic chemical classes and my many tutoring clients that that is simply not true. It’s just a matter of matching negatives (full or partial) to positives (full or partial) like oppositely charged poles on a magnet. I use magnets to emphasize my point. Opposites charges gravitate toward one another naturally and this inherent property of electrostatic (negatives to positives and vice versa) interactions is how one masters Organic Chemistry. The key thing to realize is that valence electrons (outermost electrons) move toward electropositive (positively charged) atoms or groups and not the other way around because valence electrons are freely moving whereas protons (the positively charged subatomic particles) are situated (located) in the nucleus (center) of an atom and so their location is essentially fixed (not moving).

    Take the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecule, for instance. It is the primary energy carrier for multicellular organisms by virtue of its covalently-linked negatively-charged phosphate groups — I review periodic trends while I explain this. Recall that like charges repel and because the highly electronegative groups (surrounded by large quantities of electrons) are held in close proximity to one another, cleavage (breaking of) of its covalent bonds (equal sharing of electrons) between adjacent (nearby) inorganic phosphates serves as the driving force (energy) for a cell to do cellular work such as growth and repair.

    I then explain how the potential energy (relative energy due to position) can be converted to chemical energy to drive cellular processes like group transfer reactions and other entropic reactions.

    Energy, here, is defined thermodynamically (think energy production and transfer of energy) as “the ability to do work.” To demonstrate, lifting a pencil doesn’t magically give it energy, it just increases its gravitational potential (capability) to do work because, once released, gravity — which is a downward-acting force (defined as a force at a distance) — will act on it thereby causing the pencil to accelerate toward the center of the Earth (the Earth’s center of mass).

    NOTE: Energy actually doesn’t exist, it is just a mathematical bookkeeping system that allows us to enumerate (count) how much work (a force applied through some distance) can be done by an object or system given some input of “energy”.

    And all the while I am explaining, I use relational stories, manipulatives, and hand gestures to emphasize my points. Like when I say energy, I make air quotes with my hands.

    Notice how I break down EVERYTHING as I explain. Why textbooks don’t do this, I’ll never know.

    This is what I do when I teach math just as easily. Take inverse operations, for instance. When I teach or review them, I use the story of me getting up for work and I vividly go through my morning routine. When I go home at the end of the end, I have the students recount what I do in the evening time but in reverse. This is analogous to performing what mathematicians call “inverse operations” in math to “undo” addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, similar to how I perform my daily morning routines in reverse before I go to bed.

    It is extremely rare that I ever follow textbooks and just do it my own way.
     
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  17. Tired Teacher

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    I can see where there is a time and place just to know how to do something or use the knowledge. Having the ability to teach it is a whole other beast. :) Both are valuable skills to have depending upon the situation.
    It is awesome when someone has both skills and the ability to break it down like that. Very unusual! :) I think that is definitely a prized ability to have!
     
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  18. bella84

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    Just curious... Do you tutor elementary students? I'm wondering a) if you are able to break down even the most basic concepts, and b) how you are familiar with the implementation of CCSS in elementary schools?
     
  19. futuremathsprof

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    I tutor primarily high school and college students. Currently, I am tutoring: two 4th graders (Math and English), a 5th grader (Math, Science, and English), a 7th grader (Math), two 9th graders, an 11th grader, a 12th grader, three undergraduate students (Circuits, Thermodynamic Physics, and Vector Calculus, respectively), and one graduate student (Advanced Statistics) regularly.

    I am quite familiar with CCSS in public schools and I largely agree with them; though, they can be vague at times and I think they should be more specific. Overall, they’re pretty good.

    It’s the methods I disagree with that *some* teachers employ in their classrooms and how they *insist* on their students using them or else zero credit is received. I’ve sat down with each and every one of my students and quizzed them on said methods to see if they actually understand what is going on and why they are being asked to do them and very few, with rare exception, actually understand them. I now have a large enough sample size that I can make these inferences.

    Here’s how I know and what I do: I first have students do the problems using their teacher’s method and I provide zero input. I then have them explain each step out loud after they are finished and jot down what they say. This gives me feedback on their present level of understanding. I then proceed to ask them open-ended and closed-ended questions to see exactly why they did what they did. After which, I “grade” each problem and let them know how many errors they made. The end result? They really don’t get what they’re doing and I’ve been doing this for a decade now.

    After which, I do what I describe in my previous post and I go into great detail and explain problems at great length, all the while indicating how and why each step is done and the motivations behind each step. Sure enough, the students understand after I am finished and they marvel at their new level of understanding. I then have them pick between the two methods and they almost always pick mine. I wonder why that is?
     
  20. JimG

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  21. futuremathsprof

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    In my experience, ten-frames and lattice multiplication are effective, but algebra tiles are not. Though, that is just my experience.

    I’ve noticed that lattice multiplication is useful when condensing and reducing products of polynomial expressions and less so when multiplying constants. Ten-frames are useful for teaching number sense and place value, but I require that students learn to do it mentally eventually and not on paper because it becomes a crutch. In the beginning they may do so, but I require that they not use their fingers to count and that they rely more and more on mental math with time. I have very high expectations of the students I teach and tutor.
     
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  22. bella84

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    So, what you are saying is that you begin working with students when they do not understand the content that they are being taught at school, and, by the time you stop working with them, they do understand the content? Isn't that the expected outcome of tutoring? I'm not seeing what evidence you have that the implementation of CCSS is so poor in public elementary schools, nor am I seeing that you have experience with any grade below fourth.

    I tend to agree that some teachers do require some arbitrary or unnecessary steps or rules when they shouldn't. I think this is usually due to a lack of PD and knowledge of math on teacher's part. However, I disagree that teaching a variety of methods is a bad thing. Generally, one method is taught before another to help build conceptual understanding. As students develop understanding, more efficient methods are taught. Eventually, the goal is for students to use the most efficient method, while knowing that some methods make more sense to some students, and each student should be free to, eventually, choose their own preferred method. When a method is initially being taught, there are going to be times where students don't get to choose the method. That's just part of school. I always explain this to my students: "Right now, I'm looking to see if you understand and can use this method. After we've learned all of the possible methods, you'll be free to choose which one you like best. I will only care that you can solve the problem you're given."
     
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  23. futuremathsprof

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  24. bella84

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    I guess I'd be curious to know what grade level the students are who want to use their fingers. At the primary grades, using fingers is absolutely developmentally-appropriate and would not be considered a crutch. I'm going to guess that your students were older, given that you mentioned fourth being the youngest in your previous post.

    I think it's important to identify the grade-level when discussing strategies, given that some strategies are developmentally appropriate at one grade and not at another. High expectations are going to be different for each grade level.
     
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  25. bella84

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    Honestly, I'm tired of test scores being the only evidence given that students are not learning what they need to learn. There are a lot of factors that lead to test scores being what they are, and it doesn't always mean that there is a direct connection to the standards or curriculum or instructional methods. Sure, they may play into it, but they are far from the only factors.
     
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  26. futuremathsprof

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    I never stated I only teach one method and that I think teaching a variety of methods is bad. I teach multiple methods to each student and tailor my instruction to each student.

    For example, when I teach/tutor Algebra 1, I give the same problem but have them do it several ways.

    To demonstrate, consider the following:

    Solve x^2 + 5x + 6 = 0 by:

    A) Factoring
    B) using the Quadratic Formula
    C) Completing the Square
    D) using a graphing utility.

    I observe which methods they struggle with and THEN I focus on those needed areas. If they master certain methods, then I focus more so on the ones they haven’t mastered. I continually check in with them to see what they understand or don’t understand. And I don’t use what the book suggests either.
     
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  27. futuremathsprof

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    True, but if a student cannot demonstrate what they purport to know, then how else can they show it? If I came to one of your students and gave them a math problem suited to their particular grade level and was written in plain English (so without any fanciful terminology) or superfluous information, then should be able to solve it, no? If they can’t for many different problem situations, then they clearly haven’t learned the material.

    How does an MD demonstrate that they know their craft and can suitably practice medicine? They pass their medical boards. How does a lawyer demonstrate that she is of sound mind to practice law? She passes her state bar exam. I could go on and on.
     
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  28. futuremathsprof

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    You’d be surprised how often older students still count with their fingers. I actually still tutor a student who used to use her fingers to count in the 8th grade. I made sure to get rid of that habit first thing because it was ridiculous.
     
  29. bella84

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    I wasn't suggesting that you only teach one method. I was responding to your claim that your methods seem to make more sense to your students than the methods that they are being taught and required to use at school.

    Also, it would be nice if, once in awhile, you gave an example of something you've taught your fourth or fifth graders. It would be easier for those of us who teach elementary to relate. Nothing wrong with your secondary-level examples. I just don't usually pay much attention to them or read them in-depth because I know that they are so far removed from what I teach.
     
  30. bella84

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    Sure, a student should be able to show what they know on a test. But, again, there are a lot of factors. Some students can't read the test and, therefore, cannot solve the problem because they don't know what it's asking. Some students - especially in elementary levels - cannot adequately work the technology now that tests are online, and they are unable to show what they know simply because they can't figure out the online tools. Some students have a history of trauma or emotional or mental health issues that lead to them not mastering content or performing well in testing situations. Some students have disabilities preventing them from learning at the level expected for their grade level, but they don't qualify to take the alternate assessment. There are a multitude of reasons that students might not perform well on a standardized test.

    I don't disagree that professionals must pass a test to show what they know, but those are optional. One must only take those tests if they are looking to enter a particular field. Most will wait until they feel prepared to sign up for and take the test. Student standardized tests must be taken by everyone, regardless of their preference or readiness for the test. It's not at all the same.
     
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  31. futuremathsprof

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    Sure thing! I’m currently teaching a 5th grader who struggles with place value and decimals, in particular, as well as keeping his work orderly and organized. He tends to try and skip multiple steps and cannot figure out why what he did is wrong.

    The first thing I did was work on his organization. I make him redo each problem until it is written neatly and nicely. If he reverts back to his old ways, then I make him redo it again and again. He’ll often complain that he doesn’t want to do it to which my stern response is: “I don’t remember asking you what you wanted” and I stare at him until he complies. I then erase his sloppy work and have him start anew if his work is not legible. After a few sessions of this, he now does exactly what I expect of him and I won’t accept anything less. If I give him a reasonable directive, then he needs to follow through. End of story.

    The difference from where he started and where he is now is night and day.

    Next thing I did was work on place value, so I wrote down several examples and have him say out loud what the place is for each number. For example, consider the following: 123.4567.

    I start off by underlining each number starting from the left and making my way, one at a time, to the right and say what each place is out loud as I progress. I have him repeat each one back to me as I go along. Then, I randomly point to and underline (on a whiteboard) each of the different numbers and I quiz him on which place each number is positioned in. I do this for multiple repetitions and I go faster and faster and I expect him to tell me each place without failure. If he makes a single mistake, we start again and we keep going until he doesn’t make a single mistake. I then create multiple more examples and repeat the above method. Once I am satisfied, I step it up a notch.

    I have him convert each place value into an equivalent fraction. He struggled with this in the beginning, but once he recognized what the place values were (via the method I described above) he quickly deduced that the place value to the right of the decimal point determines denominator of resulting fraction and that the underlined number is the numerator. For example, the 4 is in the tenths place and so we get 4/10. The 5 is in the hundredths place and so we get 5/100.

    Next, we worked on reducing fractions by identifying the greatest common factor (or GCF for short) and dividing the dividend and divisor by said GCF to simplify each fraction. To do this, I had him write out factor trees and a similar method of factoring. Anyway, the end goal here is for him to reduce each of those fractions he just wrote.

    This leads in to him combining 100 + 20 + 3 + 4/10 + 5/100 + ... + 7/10,000 to get back 123.4567. He know he has it right if he gets 123.4567 as his final answer. Do you see?

    I teach mastery and at no point do I move on until a student demonstrates mastery to my satisfaction. They are to show to me that they understand the problem fully and can use the right academic language. If they say the wrong thing, I interrupt them and interject the correct terminology and then I make them say the explanation back to me until they can describe it like the textbook would. No exceptions.
     
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  32. bella84

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    Thank you. That's much more relevant to my world.

    That's the benefit of being able to work one-on-one with a student. If only we could hold all students to such high expectations at all times. It becomes difficult with a full class of students who are achieving mastery at different rates.
     
  33. futuremathsprof

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    Do group work. I regularly teach several small groups at a time and I actively employ ability grouping to great effect. It’s an excellent way of differentiating instruction. It also helps with scaffolding like I did in the above example. Additionally, I require that ALL students who score below a 70% on my quizzes and tests (an F at my school) to come to lunch-time tutoring to go over the problems they missed. They are to get their lunch from the cafeteria or student store or wherever and then come to my classroom to work on it while they eat their lunches. Again, no exceptions.
     
  34. Tired Teacher

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    OK That is funny! :) I love it and say it in just a little different way sometimes. Working 1 on 1 must be so much fun in the sense that you have time to focus with that one student. I have them erase themselves. Often messiness adds to the mistakes with decimals and almost everything else.
     
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  35. bella84

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    Oh, we definitely do group and partner work on an almost daily basis. It's still difficult to meet everyone's needs. For one, math in elementary school is not leveled in the same way high school math is. My whole class is enrolled in "first grade math" whether or not it is too hard, too easy, or just right for them. In high school, as I understand it to be, students are usually enrolled in the math course that is appropriate for their ability and work ethic. And there are not percentages or coming in at lunch/recess in first grade or even in fourth grade to make up for not understanding the concepts on a math test. That would only lead to getting myself in trouble with parents and admin. Elementary kids need a recess.
     
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  36. futuremathsprof

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    I didn’t say take away their recess(es). I said require that they come in at lunch. They still get to eat, but they need to put in the work to succeed.
     
  37. Tired Teacher

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    Sep 1, 2019

    My whole class is supposedly in 3rd grade too. In actuality, I have some kids who can practice coloring a zero for 2 minutes up to a couple of kids who could probably do 8th grade math with ease.
    I've been checking them out the last week and they ( 2) have some mad skills for their age! :) They have educated parents.We are allowed to teach to their level though. I can't understand when schools expect everyone to be in the same place at the same time.
     
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  38. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sep 1, 2019

    I know you didn't say recess. I assumed that is because your high school students don't have a recess. So, I was equating our lunch/recess with your lunch.

    I can't take away lunch. I'd get in trouble for trying that, especially if the kid didn't do anything behaviorally wrong and was just struggling to understand the concepts. Lunch is only 20 minutes long from start to finish, and most elementary kids can't manage switching between work and lunch within the same 20 minutes. So that leaves recess. Again, taking recess would also get me in trouble for the same reasons. Plus, those kids need that energy release.
     
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  39. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sep 1, 2019

    We can and are expected to differentiate for varying levels. But it's impossible to meet everyone exactly where they are at and provide the attention that they need with the limited time given, the large class of students, and the expectation that everyone will achieve grade-level standards. What can be offered during tutoring or in a small group pull out lesson simply can't be offered to the same extent in a regular classroom setting.
     
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  40. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Sep 1, 2019

    Lunch is ONLY 20 minutes?! In every single public school I ever attended (multiple elementary, middle and high schools), lunch was no less than 40 minutes and I moved around a lot because I lived in a military family. Why is your lunch so short?
     
  41. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sep 1, 2019

    Lunch is 20 minutes. Recess is 20 minutes. It's 40 minutes altogether. That's pretty typical for elementary schools in my region. I have no idea how long middle and high school students get for lunch, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get more than 20 minutes, since they don't have a recess added on.
     
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