When students develop learning objectives based on the standards

Steve Carroll said:

When we transitioned to Common Core we did an unpacking the standards process. More importantly, after we got through that process, we started a backwards design where we developed questions and learning objectives based upon the standards themselves and then translated that into assessment. Probably the biggest gains came after we let students start developing learning objectives based on the standards. We would actually give the students the standards and ask them, ‘What would you have to be able to do show mastery of this?’ The students themselves developed learning objectives.

via http://hechingerreport.org/lessons-from-the-principal-of-a-kentucky-school-that-went-from-one-of-the-worst-to-one-of-the-best-under-common-core

Nostalgic for factual recall

The memorize cassette

Two quotes from today’s article in The Des Moines Register, Iowa Poll: Common Core not so radioactive for Iowans:

Ah, the good old days

When Iowa Poll respondents opposed to Common Core standards were asked about their objections, some lamented the shift from traditional teaching methods such as rote memorization of facts and formulas to a focus on more critical thinking.

Because we’ve learned nothing about teaching math in 50 years

Civil engineer Jack Burnham Jr., a 40-year-old independent voter, also has a “very negative” view. “I’ve got a math primer from the 1960s,” he said. “That math worked just fine.”

Shifting the public’s conceptions about learning and teaching is an ongoing, uphill battle…

Image credit: the memorize cassette, Robert Oxford

Even more important than interpreting text

Marion Brady said:

Common sense says we educate to help learners make better sense of experience – themselves, others, the world. Those Common Core Standards above say something very different, that we educate to help learners make more sense of text – words on a page. There’s no acknowledgement of the myriad other ways humans learn, no apparent recognition of the inadequacies of text in preparing the young for an unknown future, no apparent appreciation of the superior power of firsthand knowledge compared to secondhand knowledge, no provision for adopting ways of learning yet to be discovered.

Yes, it’s important for learners to know what others have to say, but facing a complex and unknown future, it’s far more important that the young learn how to figure things out for themselves, more important that they know how to create new knowledge as it’s needed, more important that they be able to imagine the as-yet-unimagined.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/07/the-biggest-weakness-of-the-common-core-standards

The idea of the superior power of firsthand knowledge compared to secondhand knowledge particularly resonates with me. Problem-based learning approaches combined with digital technologies can be a powerful mechanism for fostering students’ firsthand acquisition of knowledge, skills, and experiences…

Is this what we mean by ‘close reading?’

85 questions assigned by a high school teacher to start off To Kill A Mockingbird… Is this what we mean by ‘close reading?’

  • Who is this book dedicated to?
  • How old was Jem when he broke his arm?
  • What is Jem’s full name?
  • Who does Scout believe caused the events to happen to lead to Jem’s accident?
  • Who does Jem believe cause the events to happen to lead to his accident?
  • How much older than Scout is Jem?
  • Is Scout a boy or a girl?
  • Is Jem a boy or a girl?
  • What is Jem and Scout’s father’s name?
  • What is shameful as Southerners?
  • How did Scout’s ancestor make his living?
  • Did the Finches at any time believe slavery was okay?
  • Who is supposed to live on Finch Landing? Who does?
  • What is in Atticus’s office?
  • How does Atticus feel about criminal law?
  • Who paid for John Finch’s education?
  • What name does John Finch go by?
  • How did the author describe each of the following Maycomb sites?
  • _____________________ town
  • _____________________ streets
  • _____________________Courthouse
  • _____________________Shade
  • _____________________ Collars
  • _____________________Ladies
  • How did people move back in the 1930s Maycomb, Alabama?
  • The narrator states that Maycomb had optimism because they had recently been told that they have “nothing to fear but fear itself.” To what is she referring?
  • Who is Calpurnia?
  • How did Scout and Jem view their father?
  • How is Calpurnia described by the narrator?
  • Who is the narrator?
  • Is the narrator a child or adult?
  • How old was Scout when her mother died?
  • How much younger was Atticus’s wife than himself?
  • How did Scout’s mother die?
  • Does Jem remember his mother?
  • Where is Mrs. Dubose’s house from Scout and Jem’s?
  • Where is the Radley house from Scout and Jem’s house?
  • Who lives next door to Jem and Dill?
  • How did Dill introduce himself?
  • How did Dill get the money to watch movies?
  • What kind of movies can you see in Maycomb?
  • When did Jem start to respect Dill?
  • What does “routine contentment” mean to Scout?
  • What did Dill become known as? Why?
  • Where would Dill stand to watch the Radley house?
  • How was the Radley house described?
  • What kinds of crimes had the Radley “phantom” been credited with?
  • What is Maycomb’s principle recreation?
  • By listing all the things the Radley’s don’t do, the narrator is telling us more about the town?  What do the people of the town expect from their residents?
  • What kinds of things did the Cunningham “gang” do in Maycomb?
  • What was the “gang” charged with?
  • How long has it been since anyone has seen Mr. Radley’s youngest son?
  • According to this person, Boo stabbed Mr. Radley with a pair of scissors.
  • According to Scout’s source, the sheriff wouldn’t put Boo in prison because…
  • How was old Mr. Radley described?
  • When Old Mr. Radley was dying, why do you think they put up sawhorses and straw?
  • Jem tells Dill three details about Boo haunting the neighborhood; what were they?
  • How does Jem describe Boo?
  • It takes Jem three days before he accepts Dill’s dare to go into the Radley yard. Dill goads him each day. What does Dill say each day? Day 1: _____ Day 2: _____ Day 3: _____
  • What happened after Jem touched the house? Was there any movement in the house?
  • Why was Jem “delighted” to take Scout to school the first day?
  • What is discipline like in Scout’s school?
  • What does Miss Caroline look like?
  • How old is she?
  • What does Scout know about Winston County (North Alabama)?
  • Why does most of the class know what the letters are?
  • How does Miss Caroline react when she finds out Scout can read?
  • What did Jem tell Scout about her childhood?
  • Do you think there is anything wrong with Scout’s reading?
  • How did Scout learn to read?
  • What does Scout mean by “One does not love breathing.”
  • What is the Dewey Decimal System of teaching? (You might have to look this up!)
  • What do you think Scout means by “writing?”
  • Is Calpurnia easy to please?
  • How could Scout tell by Walter’s face that he had Hookworms?
  • What is Scout’s full name?
  • Why won’t Walter take the quarter?
  • How did Mr. Cunningham pay Atticus back?
  • Why would the crash have hit the country folks hardest?
  • What is a WPA job? (You might have to look this one and #79 up.)
  • What did Scout think Miss Caroline wanted her hand for?  
  • What were Miss Caroline’s actions when the bell rang?
  • What did Scout do to get back at Walter?
  • How is Walter described?
  • How did Walter “almost die?”

Test makers should not be driving instruction

In a post about the difficulty of New York’s Common Core assessments, Robert Pondiscio said:

Test makers have an obligation to signal to the field the kind of instructional choices they want teachers to make

via http://edexcellence.net/articles/new-york%E2%80%99s-common-core-tests-tough-questions-curious-choices

I’m going to disagree with Robert on this one. I’m fairly certain that test makers should NOT be the ones driving instruction…