I know that many people are thinking the commotion over Common Core, CCSS, is much ado about nothing.  I’ve heard some folks liken this change to the Affordable Care Act (AKA) Obamacare.  There are some similarities to how these things were implemented and rolled out nationwide, but while the ACA was voted on by national elected officials, held to be constitutional in a Supreme Court ruling, and a referendum item of the last national general election and Presidential contest. Common Core has undergone no such tests or review process.  When Obamacare was passed, thousands of pages of legislation were created and reviewed by corporate stakeholders, media organizations, political groups, and private citizens, and one of the common complaints was Obamacare contained too much info to review in a short amount of time, CCSS contained no documentation when many states, including Louisiana signed up to promote and endorse it after receiving millions in grants from the Gates foundation to do so.  Louisiana agreed to implement Common Core in its first Race to the Top application submitted January 19 of 2010 during the depths of the recession to pursue some of the 5 billion dollars in grants the US Department of Education was dangling in front of so many money starving states.  One of the requirements of Race to the Top was signing onto a Common set of standards.  While US ED claims they did not specify Common Core directly, there was only set of Common Standards under construction, and in order to be common across states many states other than your own had to adopt them.  It’s completely disingenuous of USDOE to say they did not require them. Every state that applied to this grant knew included adopting Common Core as part of their proposal was their only chance to alleviate their budget woes and no state that declined to adopt them was awarded a RTT grant.

From page 10 of Louisiana’s first round RTT application.  Louisiana vowed to adopt CCSS sight unseen, almost 6 months before they were even defined.

C. Adopt Common Standards including those for Pre-K and Science and Social Studies; Take a Lead Role in Consortium to Design Common AssessmentsLouisiana will utilize R2T funding to implement a high-quality plan for the adoption and rollout of 100 percent of the common core standards, of which we have been an active participant with CCSSO on the design and adoption. Louisiana will also take a lead role in ensuring that the design and implementation of the common assessment fulfills our core goals of supporting student achievement and focusing on teacher effectiveness. To support our strategy, summative assessment results will be available within two weeks of test administration so they can be used to inform decisions about students and also to aid in the effective evaluation of teachers and schools. The test will be vertically scaled to provide a clear picture of annual student growth. We will extend the blueprint of the K-12 common assessment quickly to science and social studies so that we can ensure a rich view of student progress and the effectiveness of teachers can be measured more reliably. We will also evaluate and implement developmentally appropriate measures of progress for Pre-K aligned to the common core standards to ensure students are on track at the earliest ages. 

A draft of the Common Core State Standards was not even released until March of 2010.  When the final proposed standards were produced in June of 2010, BESE has already decided to approve them and quickly voted to adopt them in our state, despite the fact Louisiana lost out on the first round of Race to the Top grant funds.

(For trivia buffs, Louisiana also lost out on the second round after TFA alums Chris Meyer, head of New Schools for Baton Rogue, and Jacob Landry, currently the Chief strategy officer in the Jefferson Parish school system submitted an almost exact copy of the original grant for Phase II of RTTT, but nevertheless Louisiana went all in on adopting Common Core, despite the fact most people knew nothing about it, and the fact Common Core had never been tried in any setting ever and received zero endorsements from the only 2 k-12 representatives that worked on the design committee.  Corporate interests drafted Common Core on behalf of the NGA, National Governor’s Association, and CCSSO, Council of Chief State Education Officers for which BESE member Holly Boffy is a highly paid “consultant” paid to endorse Common Core as her full time job and “to pay for her mortgage” – as she recently told her constituents at a town hall meeting organized to discuss Common Core.)

This may seem like an overly long lead-in, but I believe the context is important and I don’t think many people that support Common Core and our current education agenda were aware of these details.  The Common Core adoption was snuck in under the radar, and its way was paved and greased with Gates gold and Federal grants. (Louisiana eventually landed a Phase III grant.)  So I want you to understand this is not like what happened with Obamacare on  many levels.  This was a backroom deal that was adopted sight unseen, and almost every organization supporting Common Core got tons of money and grants from either from the Federal government and/or Bill Gates and his foundation, or has a financial stake in the outcome (such as text book publishers and test makers like Pearson.)

Now if some of you were like me, you may have been alienated by all the false negative coverage of Obamacare like the overhyped Death Panels myth perpetuated by Sarah Palin, some tea party groups and Fox News.  When I saw that coverage and compared what was being said to the specific passage cited in the Affordable Care Act that only defined a benefit for doctors counseling patients, upon a patient’s request, on their end of life options, I was disgusted and turned off by much of the rest of the negative things that were being said about Obamacare.  Once you lie to me, I don’t trust you.  But that was perhaps an overly simplistic way to look at the situation and he idea of insuring uninsured people and saving money was appealing.  What we are seeing now is that there were significant issues with this plan that were not anticipated and which have not been addressed and legislators on both sides of the aisle are very worried about the implementation of the AFA.  Everyone has heard about the horrible website. . . .now.  But most of the coverage of the opening days of Obamacare was devoted to the government shutdown, and who was at fault for it.  When the smoke cleared from that disaster what we were left with was a smoldering pile of dysfunctional website and a complete breakdown of communication and planning at the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius.  A month  an half later, most of the few hundred thousand enrollees in the system signed up through state sites and exchanges or directly with providers, not with the Federal website at all.  The Federal government was not prepared for most states to decline setting up their own exchanges. They had not considered what would happen if half the states declined the Federal dollars to expand their Medicaid rolls.  Obama falsely promised folks they could keep their policies if they wanted to, and would not be forced to buy new policies if they liked the ones they had. . . period.  Now we are seeing that only the unhealthiest people are signing up for the insurance, and many of the healthier folks that would ideally contribute to health plans to counterbalance and partially subsidize the unhealthy, pre-existing folks are not showing up.  This could turn out to be an enormous catastrophe for the health care industry if they are forced to pick up the tab.  What we may be in for is another government bailout, to save insurers because of a hastily implemented plan and that was with millions of eyes watching it and thousands of pages of documentation.  What we have in Common Core is something like the opposite.

So what’s my point?  I know some of you may have heard things about how Common Core is a Communist plot, or that Common Core forces schools to teach sex education to preschoolers.  I’m sure you’ve seen a few dubious Facebook posts with people ranting about this topic and perhaps not getting all the facts straight, and your tendency or habit might be to ignore this whole issue as more grandstanding, overreacting and a political ploy, but I ask you to not do what I did, rejecting this issue out of hand because of a few folks that may not have their facts straight or an inability to express themselves constructively.  I see folks blaming both liberals and conservatives for Common Core, but I ask you to take a step back and take a new look from a new perspective.  I will show you some of the homework I and other parents have been getting.  Over the course of several articles I will show you the shaky and scary reality behind the polished veneer and propaganda you are being doused with in support of Common Core.  One of the observations I see in most newspapers these days is that the opponents of Common Core are all conservative nut jobs and Tea Party folks, and while some of them may be. . .  🙂  there are still plenty of liberal nut jobs like me shouting the same tune.

More important than being liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, is that I am a parent.  The folks opposing this are all largely comprised of parents and parent groups.  We did not get Gate grants, nor do we want them. We want outstanding educations for our children. We do not fight “rigor” or change.  In fact, I/we would embrace some actual rigor, which Common Core is not.  We parents fight busywork, insane and abusive teaching methods and profiteers that see out kids as opportunities to exploit rather than the precious, beloved vessels we nurture and protect every day with every breath in our bodies and prayer on our lips.  We fight for them, for us, and for Louisiana.  So when you look at those of us who oppose Common Core and judge us, see us as we are, as concerned parents, as your neighbors and as Louisiana.  Before you insult or ignore us hold up a mirror to yourself next time.  We have nothing to gain by opposing something “good” for our own children and our children’s educations.  We have their lives to lose if we fail to fight for them.

Common Core supporters claim all they are supporting is “standards” not curriculum.  That is semantics. The Core defines what every kid is supposed to learn at every grade level.  They have built a car, gassed it up and told us where we have to drive it, but are letting us pick our route.  However right now there are only one or two roads we can travel on.  One of the those roads is EngageNY, a curriculum provider that worked with Louisiana to produce break down the weekly and daily work behind the “standards” and which John White and LDOE endorsed and encouraged Louisiana School districts to use.

While John White and Chas Roemer claim CCSS give teacher more flexibility to design their own “curriculum” (which is really just the specific lesson plans, not a curriculum at all) this flexibility and freedom is an illusion. We are all free to fly to the moon, but that doesn’t mean we can do it.  If it was easy to design a daily curriculum then textbook companies that were poised to make enormous profits on this endeavor would have already produced them, but in most, if not all schools, no new text books supporting Common Core have been issued.  Louisiana implemented Common Core before we even had textbooks and have to rely on license free worksheets like the ones produced by EngageNY to teach our children.  But my first grade child in East Baton Rouge parish is not learning anything from these worksheets.  I am telling her what to fill in, after brainstorming with Facebook friends and family (some of whom are elementary teachers and mathematicians) to try and figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do.  I and my daughter’s grandmothers have no idea what this “math” is, how to help my daughter, or what it’s supposed to be teaching her except to listen to us tell her what to fill in a box.  There are many children that don’t have as many committed adults at home.  How do you think they are faring?

This first sheet is a little blurry, so I apologize. (My completed version of it is clearer.)

The first worksheet question states “Draw the 5-group card to show a double.  Write the number sentence to match the cards.”  Despite the fact that I still have no idea what a 5-group card is, I count a set of three boxes that equals six total boxes, not 5, I also have no idea why a “double” is significant and do not recall ever needing to write a “number sentence.”  This first problem was missing instructions which my daughter’s teacher thoughtfully provided and the third problem appears to have been incorrect and needed to be corrected by the teacher. I wonder how many kids tried working this worksheet out with incorrect examples?

The second example has the term 5-group cards scratched out.  There are 5 sets of these “cards” which look like boxes to me.  Is a box a 5-group card?  Who knows?  My instructions are to “Fill in the cards from least to greatest.  Double the number and write the number sentences.”  I looked at the examples and thought, “ok cool, I can do this.”  So 1+1 = 2.  2+2 = 4.  I figured the next was going to be 4+4 = 8 and thought, “hey maybe this is a cool way to introduce the idea of square numbers to first graders.  Awesome!”  So I had my daughter write 4+4 = 8.  Then I saw the 4 in the next box.

Damn it!  Apparently least to greatest means numbering them from 1 to 5?  That doesn’t make any sense.  Maybe they could have said number the boxes in order and double them, but how do you number something from least to greatest when the numbers don’t even exist?  WTF kind of instructions are these?!?!?  Alright, keep you cool.  Just erase the 4 and put in 3 + 3, 4+4 and 5+5.  I guess this is what “Fill in the cards from least to greatest.  Double the number and write the number sentences.” means.  Great.  And why the obsession with doubles?  That seems weird but they were just getting started.  You can see my completed sheet below.  I would say my daughter’s but she had no idea what to do so I figure I earned the rights to claim this work as my own.  I hope my first grade teacher likes it!

The next item says simply “Solve the number sentences.”  This looked a little like algebra so I thought it was ok and seemed easy enough to do.  I simply told my daughter to put in the number that was missing and she breezed through that section, so I was relieved. . . but my relief was short lived.  The most harrowing part of my homework was yet to come!

Now I get “Match the top cards to the bottom cards to doubles +1.” 

WTF kind of shit is this, I thought to myself. (I usually keep my swearing to a minimum or avoid it, but in the spirit of honesty I thought it was more important to keep it real and I swear about stupid stuff in my head. . . a lot more since dealing with Common Core.)  I really have no idea why they love “doubles” so much.  I decided I would look this up in the Common Core State Standards afterwards to see what these are all about.  My initial guesses were this was part of the college and career real world examples part, and the CCSSO folks consulted with a Monopoly expert instead of business expert about what kind of math skills were important in the real world.  (Just like in real life, rolling doubles is important because it lets you go again, but if you roll three in a row you go to jail.)   I asked my daughter for guidance on this one, figuring she was probably the math expert at this point by being exposed to all this “rigor”, but mostly I just learned she liked that 3 on the bottom row a whole lot. . . If this was designed to prepare her to be an electrical engineer, I think she just made a short circuit.

The final part of this page says “Solve the number sentences.  Write the double fact that helped you solve the double +1.”  [Insert gratuitous internal cursing]  Despite more than 40 comments on Facebook, we were not able to figure out what this means, but it’s nice to know doubles are now “facts” and adding 1 to them is apparently a skill I’ve lacked.  Somehow I’ve taken half a dozen calculus classes (maybe I could have taken half as many if I knew the secret of the “double”) 6 classes in statistics, Honors Physics, Chemistry, Math and Biology, earned an a degree in Accounting and have worked as a programmer of accounting, ERP, claims processing systems and database administrator for 15 years and never learned the magical secrets of the “Double.”  Shucks.  I bet Einstein knew about doubles. . . .

Finally I’ve gotten to page 3 of my Common Core Mathematics curriculum worksheet!  Surely all the worst is behind me, I told myself.  But then. . .

“Solve the problems without counting all.  Color the boxes using the key.

Step 1: Color problems with +1 or 1+blue.

Step 2: Color remaining problems with +2 or 2 + green.

Step 3: Color remaining problems with+3 or 3 + yellow.”

Say what?  This one stressed me out.  I had my daughter get out her blue, green and yellow pastels and red through it a few times more. What am I not supposed to be counting? I color using a key where I add colors?  After some searching some of my Facebook posse thought maybe numbers with a 1, 2 or 3 had to be colored, but why?  How do I color all “remaining” colors twice?

After much soul searching we took a stab at it, and what we got is below.  After the first few boxes were completely obliterated by the coloring we decided to just put some token color in the boxes.  Perhaps the lesson we were supposed to learn here was improvising?  This “math” looked just like crap to me, or as several folks told me “a hot mess.”  One mathematician said this was obviously designed by folks who hate math to make others hate math too. I know I hate it, and I’m just in first grade. . .again.

I’ve heard stories from other parents and children that this ridiculousness is in all grades in many parishes and gets much worse.  How many years of made up terms like “doubles plus 1”, “doubles facts”, and “5-group cards”, “number bonds” (another term from previous assignments) did the 6th graders miss out on, the 8th graders, the high schoolers?

So I decided to do some research.  What is  the deal with these doubles plus 1s for instance? I found I am not the only once searching for answers, and this math is driving parents crazy and kids to tears nationwide.  What I didn’t find any reasoning behind why this is an important lesson.


So my next stop was the Common Core website.  What were the “math standards” for first graders and why do they love doubles and number bonds so much?

My next stop was here: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/1/introduction

I won’t copy the full set of “standards” here, which would fill many pages.  Quite a substantial amount of material for “standards” but the only significant grouping I found involved making groupings of 10. (I didn’t see anything about the metric system though which one would think would be introduced if we’re gonna’ start making tens so important.) I did not find anything about “Doubles” or their ilk there.  So where did all this bizarre terminology come from?

It came from a New York based non-profit named EngageNY.   (Although based on what my New York relatives and contacts are relaying it would be more accurate to name it EnrageNY.


New York was the first state to test their students on these new standards, so they had the first glimpse of what the test would look like.  EngageNY is a non-profit group that is promoting a “free” version of Common Core curriculum designed to teach what students will be expected to do on high stakes tests like PARCC.   The whole point of having “Common Standards” is for the testing component.  Proponents of this idea emphasize the comparability of test scores, as if that was the only purpose of education.


He [John White] said the state is “struggling with the idea that measuring our kids on a common bar with those across the country is somehow commensurate with an outside takeover of public education.”

You’re damn right I have a problem with this.  I’m not concerned with a common bar.  I want a high quality education that teaches my children to think and to prepare them for a life of learning, not simply a low paying career at Wal-Mart (one of the biggest supporters of Common Core.)  John White’s “bar” is total bullshit.  He changes it every year and adds bonus points in for schools he wants to promote and to tear down schools he wants to take over and hand off to privatizers.  I am seriously considering pulling my kids out of school on testing days from now on.  The Race to the Top application stated the results would be available weeks after the kids take the tests for teachers to use, but that has never happened.  This year’s results weren’t released until October of the following school year.  These results and tests are all about using promoting the education reform agenda, about selling tests and test preparation  materials, and nothing, not one whit, about the kids.  I’d like to see him compare a big pile of nothing.  I see parents staging walk out days to protest Common Core, but if parents really want to make a statement I suggest everyone take their kids out on testing days instead.  No learning is taking place on those days anyway, and the results are not used to help children one bit.  The results are used to punish and reward teachers, they are used to punish and reward schools and for White to tout his successes.  These tests are used to stress out children and to force schools to direct much of the instructional time towards passing tests that John White will tweak every year to tell the story he wants, all the while White personally looks the other way when large cases of cheating are reported directly to him for charter and RSD schools he does nothing except terminate the ones reporting the cheating.  Our children are pawns in his twisted game.  Will they still be able to play if we turn over the chess board?  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to find out. . .

Common Core has never been about introducing “rigor” its been about creating commonality and student standardization, standard products for industry to absorb into their ranks.

Roemer said the new standards will equip students for a wave of jobs that require increased technical and literacy training.

“We need to make sure our citizens are prepared for those jobs,” Roemer said.

I’m not exactly sure what jobs BESE president, Chas Roemer, is referring to.   Under Jindal’s tenure our unemployment rate has doubled and is on a definite upswing in contrast to the rest of the country, State subsidized chicken plucking plants notwithstanding.

Our children are being prepared to be barked at and respond on command.  This is not a rigorous or “engaging” curriculum.  Take a look at this video EngageNY posted as an example of their teaching methods and curriculum at work.


Look at the fidgeting, yawning children, the harsh slaps of the hands demanding their attention to count to 11.  11, 12.  11, 12, 13.  This is not rigor, this is not preparing children to increase their critical thinking skills.  It teaches them about doubles, and double 10 frames that they will never, ever, ever use or need to know unless they end up in what will one day be a dead end job if this insanity continues; teaching.  EnrageNY teaches them to yawn and hate school, but this is the mass delusion and perversion that Federal education mandates are becoming.  This video and these worksheets are the houses that High Stakes testing built.  But don’t take my word for it.  If you don’t have children or grandchildren in public schools ask your neighbors with children in public schools learning this Common Core math.

I agree we needed to ramp up our curriculum.  I don’t believe Common Core does this.  I believe this junk is being mislabeled, and the people opposing it are also being mislabeled. You have a responsibility to look beyond the label.  It’s easy to call something rigorous and it’s easy to make something rigorous.  Cleaning your kitchen tiles with a toothbrush is more rigorous than using a mop, but rigor alone doesn’t make something better.  It’s easy to call parents knuckle draggers, Tea Party cooks, and lazy cry babies with their heads in the sand, but the media needs to take a more “rigorous” approach to examining this issue and reporting on it, and if you have written folks off because of politics, you need to take a more rigorous look as well.  Most of the people supporting Common Core the most vociferously, like John White, do not have children or children of public school age, and many of them have profited directly or indirectly from this initiative.  Motivations matter, and who’s do you think are purer, a paid puppet, or a public school parent?

We speak for our children, they speak for their patrons and their pocketbooks.

We will be speaking loudly at the voting booths from now on.


350 thoughts on “My attempt at completing my first grader’s Common Core math homework – and a little historical CCSS context

  1. Engage NY materials are awful, and are responsible for a lot of the problems people have with Common Core. There actually are some good curriculum materials for common core elementary math, but many schools don’t have the funds to purchase them, or their school systems decide to “save money” by having teachers use the online materials. (Of course they fail to take into account the copy costs – some systems have had to purchase large expensive copiers just to handle the load.) And since the materials are thrown together, they make no sense. Disclaimer: I work part time for a textbook company, but not Pearson, and we have great elementary programs which have materials to help parents understand the work as well. Many teachers who have spoken to me hate the Engage NY stuff, but have been told to use it. If White & Co. had allowed proper implementation, a grade at a time from K up, and had supported the purchase of good materials and in-services for teachers, this whole fiasco would have been different. Of course, the main problem is the whole test mentality, and forcing the use of a new unvalidated test to evaluate both students and teachers. As a parent and former teacher, I despise the test mentality. It is ruining education.

    1. I agree. However I cannot judge an excellent or adequate implementation since one was not provided one for me to judge. As far as implementations go, I give this one an F. Please make sure this gets noted on John White’s implementation report card.

      1. Your description of that homework was cracking me up! As I was reading the article, I was wondering to myself why a student would color over the math in dark colors before attempting it. Hilarious.

        I teach 4th grade in another state and we don’t have any materials to guide us, Engage NY or otherwise (thank goodness). I am a math leader in my district and I have had countless trainings on conceptual understanding in math. On one level, I get what the teacher was trying to do. Students do struggle with addition facts and the teacher is trying to teach his/her students strategies to figure out the facts. In my class, a lot of students come into my class counting on their fingers, unable to add. Many don’t know their doubles facts, which is challenging when you are learning to multiply by twos! My point in saying all of this is that I do see what the teacher is trying to do…

        On the other hand, the materials your child has been given is absurd. I want to give the CCSS writers the benefit of the doubt (believe me, that is very hard for me to do in light of the 4th grade standards…) and assume that the strategies highlighted were meant to help kids, NOT be the be all end all of math instruction. However, because it is listed as a standard, the textbook companies and test writers treat it as the goal of instruction, not a strategy to help students. I find the same problems in 4th grade with teaching multi-digit multiplication (brace yourself for that one). I teach different ways to multiply so that students can find a way that makes sense to them. I don’t teach them so that test makers have more ways of writing gotcha problems.

        I’m not sure what the school/district policy is where you are. In some districts, teachers are required to assign specific homework and that may the case here. I don’t wish to bad mouth the teacher here necessarily since I don’t know the situation. However, as an elementary math teacher and leader in my own district, I think your criticisms are right on. Strategies are being misused as their own sort of standard algorithm and it is making math instruction a joke.

    2. I too was a 4th grade teacher and the idea of implementing the programs one grade at a time moving up the ladder is exactly what this needed. However, where I teach, we did have the benefit of workshops and in services for each grade level and each unit so we would know how to teach Singapore Math, which is what EngageNY is. They just bundled it up in a very poorly constructed set of workbooks and labeled it Eureka! I’m not against Common Core Standards. I’m against the ridiculous, untested, un-validated “Assessments” created by testing “corporations” that are suppose to measure whether the students have met the standards or not!

      1. Are you sure that Singapore Math EngageNY Eureka? I’ll bite that the latter two are identical (because the company that developed EngageNY had planned to market it nationally as Eureka all along). I don’t see how Singapore Math gets into the mix unless you’re claiming that either the Ministry of Education in Singapore sold the rights to its elementary mathematics curriculum to the folks who wrote Eureka/EngageNY, or the latter simply stole their materials from either the standard or American edition of Singapore Math (the latter, of course, would be a serious crime). Either way, on what do you base your claim, Eric?

  2. This should be sent to Bobby Jindal OVER AND OVER AND OVER until he gets it!! He’s a mathematician lets see if he can figure it out!!! I wouldn’t even bother to send it to White seeing as he’s all for this crap in the first place!! EVERYONE should send this link to hi Facebook page and his email adress through the La. web site until he pays attention becausehe’s the only one who can get this stuff out of our state!!!

    1. I know this is a bit late, but Bobby Jindal, while he no doubt knows a good deal of mathematics given his education is NOT a mathematician nor did he get even an undergraduate degree in mathematics, let alone a doctorate. Let’s try to stay factual.

  3. Sorry that your school is using this curriculum. Not sure it is common core’s fault, but rather your school district for choosing this? Or maybe even the individual teacher if these worksheets are freely available? My son’s class (he is also in first grade here in Tangipahoa parish) is using a very different curriculum. (His school started using core standards last year) His math does not include these “doubles” (nor does it ever, as I’ve looked ahead). His math is based on Singapore math (which I believe that Common Core aligns with quite nicely), which does use number bonds – but those make perfect sense to me and have a been a great way of teaching addition and subtraction and how they work together. And will be very handy when adding and subtracting multiple digit numbers.

    No matter what the standards, it really does come down to what curriculum each school or parish chooses and how the individual teachers choose to teach. Have you spoken to your kid’s teacher about this? Maybe he or she needs rethink how to teach if even the adults don’t understand what is going on.

    1. Many Parishes required teachers use this, including mine. Not enough time or money was provided to review and introduce all this stuff. While its nice you are happy with you implementation and what you have seen to date, do you think that makes it ok to ignore all the problems everyone else is having? Do you think this curriculum is better for all of Louisiana? John White and BESE forced this upon parishes, and now that the implementations are going poorly they’ve stuck their heads in the sand and pointed their accusatory fingers everywhere but at themselves. They claim they rushed this through because they were worried our children would fall behind. Now many children are having trouble even leaving the gate. But as long as we can blame someone else instead of fixing it, I guess thats all that matters, right?

    2. Since all but 4 states accepted common core your state could be one of them. The 46 states that accepted it uses the same material supplied by the federal government

        1. Common Core was technically mandated by the Feds and its creation was funded by the Feds. Arne has more then laid claim to them time and again. it is not a conspiracy, it’s common knowledge. You may disagree with the interpretation, but we don’t need to pass out the tin-foil hats to see a connection here, Dave.

          1. But most states are still allowing districts to pick what they want, and to write their own curricula, as long as those are aligned with the Common Core. So while that may arguably be too much input from the Federal government, it’s not tantamount to direct dictating of any program. The exceptions are in states like New York and Louisiana, where the state dept of ed either wrote or commissioned or adopted a program that EVERYONE has to use (and in the case of Engage-NY, one that is scripted (always a very bad sign, in my experience), and in many places very badly done.

            It really doesn’t matter on this particular issue who funded the Common Core (and for all intents and purposes, I’d say it was Gates, a few other gazillionaires, and the feds, along with those states whose governors were particularly in the pockets of the oligarchs), but to what extent districts and teachers are free to make reasonable choices about content, materials, and pedagogy. Again, NY and LA are the worst-case scenarios, and we should all be VERY wary of that particular trend. But take, for a counterexample, Michigan, were each district writes its own curriculum, based on both the CCSS AND the state curriculum framework, gets to pick any books, materials, online resources, technology, etc., that it wants, and is not required to use specific ANYTHING. That’s not exactly different from how things were BEFORE Common Core. Yes, the ASSESSMENTS are a reason for major concern. But trying to make this into 1984 is just a LITTLE hyperbolic. Not that hyperbole stops people from going full hysteric on these issues. Quite the contrary, it seems that the more hyperbolic a claim is, the more people seem inclined to believe it these days, and those of us who attempt to restrict ourselves to the facts are just accused of being shills for Bill Gates and the rest of the Common Core machine (never mind several years’ worth of blog posts, online comments, the occasional guest piece in Val Strauss’ column, etc., opposing the Common Core Initiative for a wide range of reasons).

            1. We have traveled well beyond to a little too much input from the federal government to federal imposition of these standards by financial penalizing and public shaming from US DOE. The scenario playing out in all aspects of education from charters, to testing to tenure stripping to CC, massive federal data collections, to takeovers of school districts to massive clone armies of TFA “teachers” loaded with 5 weeks of propaganda is 1984ish.

              Is it really paranoia if everyone really is out to get you? 🙂

              1. That’s not responsive to what I said about most states. I think it’s important to tell the truth about what’s going on and not pretend that things are the same in, say, Michigan, as they are in NY State or Louisiana. Because teachers and parents who know what’s going on will be quite puzzled by claims that the federal government is mandating specific textbooks or programs when they aren’t, even if that does go on in a couple of states. They may be CONCERNED about what could happen down the road, but reality is reality, and exaggerating to win an argument isn’t going to convince anyone who bothers to check the facts on the ground.

                That said, I continue to oppose federal meddling in curriculum, testing, teacher training and certification, etc. But lots of states are doing a crappy job of that, too, and those who think the problem is Obama and Duncan haven’t been paying attention until the last few years. We really didn’t need the Federal government to help us screw things up for kids, as most states and districts have been doing just fine with that for a few centuries, all by their lonesome.

  4. We have an entire generation and more of Americans who can’t do basic arithmetic. In order to change such a dramatic chasm of innumeracy in this country, we need to do something equally dramatic. If that means completely revamping the old system (or lack thereof), then so be it. Dating back to space age, though, we have continuously run into this problem, and we have continuously attempted the fasted, cheapest route to the total fix, which just puts us right back where we started. The problem is exacerbated now by the fact that most parents of kids who are supposed to be learning the Singapore method or Common Core can’t do the basic math themselves, thus putting an even heavier burden on the teachers.

    On top of that, when I have worked in certification-type classes that teach LA math teachers about Common Core, I find that the old guard simply isn’t interested in changing their ways. The young teachers are more reasonable, but I can see that even if their enthusiasm doesn’t wane, we are talking about time scales on the order of a generation before something like Common Core can be considered a success or failure.

    As a closing thought, keep in mind that it took over a generation for America to conclude that the great calculator experiment was a resounding failure.

      1. Yes in the grand scheme of things they are-if you see them like Gates, Walton, Bloomberg and the like do-future drones who need to know juuust enough to operate the machines but not to question their government or corporate masters or to be politically informed and involved enough to know how bad they’re getting screwed by the upper 1% and to do something about it.

    1. Trevor, question – You said, “We have an entire generation and more of Americans who can’t do basic arithmetic.” What does that mean? What generation? How many is an “entire generation”?

      Is your frequent use of the term generation applied as a number (Americans who can’t do basic math), a period of time (time scale on the order of a generation) or more than a lifetime (took over a generation for America to conclude)?

      Let’s see if I can transfer your “reasoning” to activities other than “doing basic arithmetic.” Yes I can, which leads to the following illogical conclusions: we must have a generation or more of Americans like you who can write big words and parrot big ideas (and maybe understand EngageNY math) but who are illiterate. We are training a generation of teachers who will not live (or at least teach) long enough to know if their teaching was a success or failure even if their enthusiasm doesn’t wane. We have a generation of Americans who are incapable of applying researched, proven education and psychological practice in order to determine that CCSS is crap (you being a member of this generation). We must place the highest priority for this generation on learning math because it is essential for all professions.

      It makes sense that you place more confidence in being able to “channel the reason of young teachers” than you do in “changing the ways of the of guard.” Therein is problem with much of the Common Core Initiative – directing thinking rather than causing it!

      1. I am entirely confused by this response. The bottom line is this: calculators in school ruined Americans’ ability to do basic arithmetic quickly. This happened over the period of about a generation spanning from the start of the 1980s to less than 10 years ago or so. If one can’t do basic arithmetic quickly, then understanding algebra is a major struggle, and one can’t understand algebra, calculus is a lost cause.

        My point was that the current system is broken and must be fixed, and CCSS is an attempt at doing that. I’ll admit that I have had the luxury of working with mostly 8th grade and higher teachers (typically algebra/geometry and higher), so I don’t know about teaching early childhood teachers. I can say, anecdotally, though, that when I was that young, breaking numbers up into more, smaller, computations put me heads and shoulders above my classmates.

        1. I taught for for 34 years and do not considermyself “old-guard”. I am tired of seeing and hearing that what was taught was not worthwhile or exciting. If you have a passion for teaching and are using curriculum that is worthwhile the children will be excited. Teaching curriculum has to mesh one part into the next, not clamor.. I understand upping the standards but we have created, as a nation, a system of math that is so convoluted that it makes no sense. Teachers, students and parents are struggling to make curriculum work that is so “Ivory Tower ” that it can’t work. Yesterday I subbed in a classroom that was using the Engage system and was disgusted with the amount of time wasted on learning facts using dots and other such nonsense. Scipt was very random , no connections and confused, bored children.Rather than saying,” We are going to begin to memorize (another out-dated word) our addition facts,” I now would say I ‘ m going to show you how to use dots to find out whar 5+2 is. Children can do elapsed time but can’t do simple facts. Education used to make sure children all had basics down first and then there was lots of time for enriching. Children were polished. They knew basic math macts, could put together sentences using descriptive words, and were able to read fluentlt with understanding. By the way they understood need for correct grammar and could spell correctly. Work was also legible and correct. Let’s compare this to education today. Today you can’t read their writing, they need to count fingers or dots to get simple facts and no one is enjoying learning. The teachers are working harder than ever before; as are parents and students, but curriculum does not help, it hinders. Maybe before the experts put together their list of common core attributes there should have been more time spent basic skills and what curriculums existing would best meet these needs.McGraw Hill is excellent as is Pearson.
          One of the major tenets in curriculum purchasing was will parents understand it. quite frankly Engage NY or the Singapore method should have been left in Singalore!

          1. Intriguing, to say the least, to see yet another person conflate Engage-NY with Singapore Math. The former is pretty unrelated to the latter. The latter is the favorite elementary program of a bunch of very reactionary, traditionalists US mathematicians and their allies, particularly folks involved with groups like Mathematically Correct and NYC-HOLD. And since most, though not quite all, of those people despise the Common Core (though generally not for the same reasons that I do), they mostly would attack Engage-NY (as generally I believe should be the case), but not necessarily for all the same reasons my NYC math educator friends and colleagues dislike it.

            Meanwhile, we have yet another attack on using any sort of physical or pictorial MODEL to help students get a better grip on the WHYS of arithmetic. Keep in mind that if you can manage for 10 seconds to suspend your hatred of Common Core, and can also manage to stay open to approaches to math education that: 1) aren’t isomorphic to the way you were taught, and 2) predate the Common Core by decades (and in some cases by many centuries, as is the case with the lattice method of multiplication, which predates the invention of the printing press), you might just realize that there’s nothing wrong or mathematically unsound about these methods. In some cases, they are at least as good as the algorithms you were taught and may be easier to use or grasp for some children; in others, they are just MODELS for understanding what’s going on in the operation itself, and are not intended as long-term, lifelong methods for DOING the operation. Any competent teacher should understand that and then make intelligent choices about how to use these models for the benefit of kids, rather than insisting that rote is the only or best approach, because frankly it is not for many children.

            That said, let me repeat that this argument predates Common Core by about 25 years, if not longer. And if you’re conflating Singapore Math with, say, Everyday Math, Investigations, Go Math, or even Engage-NY, you’re clearly not bothering to think, but simply having a knee-jerk reaction against the Common Core label (publishers assign that to EVERYTHING they currently sell, but it is absolutely meaningless, just as “Complies with the NCTM Standards” told us NOTHING about whether or not a series did and whether or not it was worthwhile for kids).

            It’s pathetic to read so much blind reaction from people who profess to be educators. To say that babies are being tossed out with bathwater is inadequate to describe what’s going on here. It doesn’t matter that the publishers are just trying to do what they’ve always done, which is to make a fortune, as long as those in the schools and parents at home continue to be such witless fools about math. I guarantee that if Saxon Math, another scripted, “teacher-proof,” thought-proof math program were adopted tomorrow for your schools and came with the Common Core-aligned label on it (which I’m sure it would carry), you’d attack it, even though philosophically and content-wise it’s as different from Singapore Math as Singapore is from Everyday Math, and all of them are from Engage-NY. Uncritical thinking is no substitute for informed, reflective analysis, folks, and never will be.

            1. Not everyone is as hostorically educated and researched on this topic as you Michael, not even teachers. Not all are trained in the mysterious ways of Mathematician.

              If so many teachers are confused, how can anyone expect kids and parents to be handle this well or without conflating models ?

              I take this as further evidence on how poorly this concept was implemented and thought out.

              I feel your ire is misplaced here; at least the intensity.

              1. The Math Wars have been around for at least a quarter century, but they can be traced back to an earlier war against the so-called New Math movement in the late 1950s and into the very early 1970s, which was actually a bunch of different projects, only one of which ever went into wide implementation – naturally NOT the one from Robert Davis’ fantastic Madison Project, which would have vastly improved math teaching and learning nationally, but the dry, heavily formalistic Dolciani series. And in fact, there have been attempts at major reforms in US math and science teaching that go back to before WW I (I took a course in grad school in 1993 that covered these various reform projects/manifestos: education and study are wonderful things, particularly when it comes to getting some historical perspective rather than thinking that the latest thing comes out of nowhere, with no context).

                My ire is equal-opportunity. I have a hard time being empathetic towards willfully ignorant people like the prominent math and other STEM folks in Mathematically Correct and NY-HOLD, because they should know better, but let their politics and ideologies get the better of them. But I have limited patience for ordinary people, as well as K-12 educators, who are blinded by traditionalism and/or reactionary politics. Those coming from the Tea Party perspective want to blame everything on Obama, whom they idiotically perceive as a socialist, communist, Muslim, Nigerian, and now a gay man married to a transsexual partner. But there are also folks who may not fully or all that much knowingly buy into that pile of nonsense, but are still allowing themselves to go overboard when it comes to looking at anything that has to do with Common Core, even when it only does by coincidence. I’ve been attacking the big picture of corporate-driven education deform long before most of those who are railing against the Common Core over the past year had the slightest idea that it existed, let alone what it comprised. But when I write to defend ideas in math education that long predate Common Core, it’s like a double portion of bullshit comes down as a result: basically the same silly nonsense, ignorance, and fear that greeted progressive math education ideas in the 1990s and 2000s, but with all the crazed politics mixed in for a lot of folks.

                At the same time, I’ve dueled publicly and privately with leadership of NCTM, past and present, about their continued failure to employ due diligence regarding the Common Core math “program,” their unconscionable awarding of full support for it because they like the Practice Standards and hence don’t want to criticize ANYTHING about the Content Standards, or address the bigger corporate agenda, privatization issues, anti-democratic, anti-public school, and high-stakes testing juggernaut, etc., out of either abject ignorance, incredible naivete, or gross incompetence (and in some cases, I suspect vested professional and financial interests, and I’ve said as much, quite openly, for which you may imagine what rewards I got in return, quite publicly), and most particularly for their inexplicable failure to insist that the general public and rank-and-file teachers be included as fully as possible in the rollout, and that that rollout be done slowly, carefully, and at most two grades at a time.

                Of course, that last suggestion, which I’ve made repeatedly (and which I’m glad to say I’m not alone in promoting in the math education world, though it’s still a minority view), didn’t fit the corporate or Federal agenda. When money and politics are motivating forces in education “reform,” everything needs to be done yesterday. So, and I’ve said this for well over a year, even if everything in the Common Core were fabulous, which is not the case by a long shot, it was doomed to fail from the outset given the way it was created, promoted, and implemented.

                I hope that the complexity of the above doesn’t prevent some intelligent folks from reading it through and giving it the thought it deserves. This is not some simplistic black and white situation in which everyone who supports Common Core is an evil, black-hearted, greed-driven shitheel, and everyone who opposes it is a self-abnegating angel who only cares about what’s best for kids. Very little of importance is ever that easy to sort out, but it is my experience that conservative people in particular are guilty of wanting to simplify issues at any cost so that they can declare which position is on the side of God. There is NO side that is, here, as long as people refuse to think. And even when we get people thinking, we’re a long, long way from solving educational problems, due to the fact that they are embedded in a socio-economic system that really doesn’t work for the interests of most people, and hence cannot possibly support high-quality education for everyone.

        2. Really, Trevor? You have studies to support those claims? Or are you simply asserting an ideological position? My familiarity with research in math education suggests that you’re wrong about the role of calculators in the classroom.

          On the other hand, you are right about the utility of learning to compose and decompose numbers, which according to Liping Ma is one of the cornerstones of Chinese education in arithmetic, and is a major reason that students there are generally (according to her) very comfortable with basic algebra, a claim that makes sense, though I don’t feel comfortable claiming that it’s true on a wide-scale basis in China, given that we do NOT have open access to the full spectrum of schools throughout China, and neither did Ma when she collected the data that went into her dissertation and subsequent book, c. 1999, KNOWING AND TEACHING ELEMENTARY MATHEMATICS.

          Your post is yet another example, I fear, of the bizarre confusion that seems to reign regarding mathematics education in this country. This blog seems to be a magnet for contradiction-filled posts from people who manage to get some things right (though not always for the most logical reasons) and others so ludicrously wrong that it makes it very difficult to be happy that they’re having any impact on kids’ math educations at all.

          1. Lol. I prefer to think of my blog as a safe place to bring concerns and disagree without being branded an idiot – than a magent that attracts loons. However it is clear from the implementation of Common Core and the tenor of many of these posts that intentions often fall victim to reality.

    2. Trevor, so you think that THIS is the way to remediate shortcomings in the way children are taught math/arithmetic? The kids are too young to really comprehend this way; they can get it eventually, but at 5-6YO? That’s still Early Childhood. If it takes this much drilling-down to “teach” it, then it’s too soon. That’s basic Best Practice 101.

      1. I didn’t say CCSS was THE way, it is just AN attempt. I compared it to the calculator attempt of the 80s; at the time, America was behind in the world, and it was thought that since calculators can do all the ‘easy stuff’, then we could skip over that and go straight to the harder stuff.

        My personal belief is that kids aren’t too young to learn this material, as evidenced by kids of the same age learning the same material in generations past, but rather the world is so busy all the time now. With so many additional stressors that children, teachers and parents face today, the current situation should come as no surprise.

    3. I can say that from what I have seen in regard to Common Core Assignment examples, Common Core is a failure right now. We certainly don’t need a “time scale on the order of a generation” (whatever the hell that is) subjected to unintellegible, biased, and generally lousy teaching materials. Nor do we need our children to be indoctrinated to a certain way of thinking by politically shaded assignments written by someone with an agenda that has nothing to do with education.

      While I agree completely that we need a better way of educating our young people, it is obvious to me that Common Core isn’t it.

  5. How many times does math have to change? Do the numbers add up to something different now? Maybe the problem that Americans can’t do basic arithmetic is because we no longer teach basic arithmetic. Textbook companies and their ilk keep changing basic math. No changes, no need for new books.

    I was literally laughing out loud reading you accounts at first grade math. I was helping my fifth grader and felt similar frustrations. The assignment called for some type of 10 block or something to do basic addition. I wanted to just add the numbers, you know, basic arithmetic stuff, but the directions were talking about moving blocks from here to there and we had to draw (maybe) the blocks, but the space provided was teeny tiny. It was the first time is ever had frustrations helping my kid with homework. We were all confused. It’s not like we are some uneducated parents (both college graduates, advanced degrees). Nor was this calculus. More than once the mom and I just traded off. Taking turns trying do decipher the instructions. We gave up. Taught my kid the old fashioned way to find the answers and told him to just draw some random blocks. Teacher never said anything, I guess we did okay.

    1. I would like to offer a slightly different perspective, from a middle school math teacher. When I hear someone say “well I learned it this way and it was good enough for me” I always want to ask…how many of your adult friends will readily admit to not liking math, not being good at math, choosing careers based on not having to take more math? I will venture a fair number. Very few will so easily say, I hate english or social studies or art. I propose that it is just for your reasoning that they feel this way. They had teacher after teacher tell them just do this and this and you get the right answer. Well, that works for awhile, but then a good number of people stop and wonder why. And when the teacher won’t/can’t tell them, they start to see math as something a few “get” and others just don’t. And, although I totally do not agree with how CC was implemented and the testing and corporate involvement, I do think a better way of teaching math is needed, especially when there is an increasing demand for higher and higher levels of math in high school. Back in the good ol’ days, everyone was not expected to complete Algebra 2, let alone calculus. Countries that do very well in math, start out quite slowly, study basic math quite deeply, very hands-on and concrete with everything they do. They are able to progress much more quickly later on because of this firm foundation they have built. Just my 2 cents worht.

      1. I understand what you are saying. I love math. Anything we can do to show others the beauty of mathematics the better. I didn’t mean to imply “well I learned it this way…”

      2. I do not see a “why” to this math. I see and hear of a lot of crying, but that is not inspiring to children. We do not test art and are eliminating it. John White fired all the arts people at LDOE.

        I agree with most of your statements. I do not agree that teaching things this way is teaching children to hate math less. I believe the opposite is happening.

        The implementation is horrible. Zero studies were done and no evidence exists that this will increase interest or understanding. The testing defiles the learning process in my opinion and the corporate involvement is atrocious and will get worse. It will lead to ever “evolving” standards that will also be untested but which will require frequent purchases of new text books and materials which will be great for their bottom line, but horrible for parents, children, taxpayers and teachers.


        1. I am a middle school teacher in Wisconsin. I am sensing some confusion between Engage NY and Common Core Standards.

          Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of just that, standards. They are objectives for the students to meet at the end of a particular school year with a particular subject. Engage NY is just ONE of many available programs (curricula) that can be used to teach according to the standards.

          In my opinion the CCSS are good. They are rigorous and American students would be better educated, and hopefully, more globally competitive, if schools would adhere to them long term.

          My problem is with Engage NY. It IS dry, it IS NOT thoroughly tested, and they threw in a lot of new math terminology, unnecessarily.

          Unfortunately, for me, my school did not give me any training. I have had to just figure it out as I go. It seems as if the teacher described in this blog, may have been faced with the same thing. I am struggling through it along with my students and doing the best I can. With each lesson I get better and my students learn better.

          I also have found that I have to supplement A LOT to make up for the earlier grade Engage NY curricula that my students did not have. It is very frustrating to say the least.

          In addition, I have a problem with Engage NY curricula as just a bunch of worksheets at this point. There are no resources for the students to use/keep for reference. No glossary to look up the new terms. That would be helpful for the students AND the parents helping them at home. I’m sure the lady who wrote this blog would have been happy to have a glossary that told her what a “5 card group” was.

          Another issue to consider is that it is rumored that Obama’s administration pushed this through. Well, he is going to be out of office long before we will see the end results of the CCSS for this current generation of students. There is a lot of concern about CCSS getting thrown by the wayside once Obama is out of office.

          Time will tell.

          1. As far as a glossary, I just googled 5 group and found a complete explanation of it within the first couple sites listed. Anyway this is the main reason I think that the school model should be flipped upside down. Students should be given lessons by media to watch at home at night, and they should be doing homework in school with their teachers. Technology has advanced to the point that it is moronic to have a teacher give an identical lesson over and over when streaming media can do that after they record it one time. It is also a waste of money. From what I have seen in common core, it focuses on thinking necessary for discrete math. Discrete mathematics is ESSENTIAL for anything in computing. That is why the shift in teaching standards, and that is why the lack of understanding from parents. The learning model previous was terrible for transitioning into advanced math like discrete mathematics.

            1. Really, kp? Could you go into more detail on that? How much of the math Content Standards have you looked through (from what grade to what grade?) Because much as I WISH there was evidence of discrete math being brought into US K-12 mathematics on an official basis, I can’t find evidence of it and was not shocked by that lack, but disappointed, as this might have been an opportunity once again to right the ship. There was a push in the late ’80s, I believe, to add discrete math as an alternative path for serious math students who weren’t enamored of analysis or were more than happy to wait until college to take calculus. It died a quiet, ignominious death in Michigan (and, I suspect, most states where it was even put into the state math framework) due to the fact that as testing goals emerged over the ensuing couple of decades, virtually no items dealt with anything to do with discrete mathematics. And what isn’t tested isn’t taught.

              Of course, I should add given the context of this conversation that given what a cock-up nearly everything about Common Core has been, maybe it’s good in the long run that discrete math won’t have to be crucified on the cross of the anti-CCSSI sentiment that has grown throughout the country this past year. Next thing you know, Sandra Stotsky, Glenn Beck, Phyllis Schlafly, and a host of other Teabilly Wack Packers will be telling the nation to join Americans United Against Discrete Mathematics, explaining that real Americans have nothing to hide and don’t need to be discreet about mathematics as long as the 2nd Amendment is in force. “You’ll have to pry my set of real numbers out of my cold, dead, continuous hands.”

            2. That would be an efficient way to do 5 kids homework assignments each night.

              I’m sure all kids parents have nothing better to do than google website for their homework assignments every night, lol.

              Google would probably appreciate the traffic. Many of the kids from my state don’t have internet access at home, or computer literate parents. . .

              Sounds like you may be more than the average parent. I am not disputing some parents might be fine. I am not disputing some assignments may be fine. I am disputing that all parents and kids will be fine and that all the assignments are useful and appropriate.

              Sounds like you are in the education technology sector and a tad biased.

              I’m not sure what planet you are from KP, but you might want to come back to Earth for a bit. More screen time is probably not what most kids need at home.

    2. I was under the impression that parents are not supposed to help with the math homework; but that’s probably a local call, and I am not in Louisiana.

      1. Parents are always supposed to help their child with homework. That is a parental duty. If the instructions are confusing, as these are, then the teacher has erred.

        1. Neagative. These are required materials that are always crappy that they required to send home.  The curricula was not even fully mapped out when it was chosen.  Not enough resources were available or time/money to evaluate and purchase new materials for all grade levels was provided. This was decision made at state level in middle of transition plan to shorten by one year midstream.

            1. I am a teacher and I agree that teachers do not have to pass on crappy material. The Engage NY curricula are available as MS Word documents. I work through each lesson long before the student does and edit the instructions so that they make sense for the students, as best I can. I also now plan on providing a vocab list of new and unknown terms at the beginning of each new module. That should help 🙂

        2. Has anyone considered that maybe the problem is that this is homework in the first place? Since parents are unlikely to understand what the teacher is doing in class and don’t know what “doubles” or “five groups” are, maybe (if they think they have to have homework at all) the homework could be stuff more easily engaged in by parent and student alike.

  6. Time for the truth to be told. Time for parents to start speaking to legislators. Time to organize walk outs and opt outs. Time for parents to get angry over this child abuse being inflicted upon our children. We all learned math just fine. I memorized my math facts early on. So did my own children. Both graduated at the top of their class. We all have successful careers. So why is it that we need to create another version of some new math??? Last I checked 2 + 2 was still 4. Seems like things started going downhill when we decided to let Bush “Leave No Child Untested” . I wonder where we would be if those millions and billions spent on testing were instead spent in classrooms??? When will we say “Enough”?

    1. I’m sure you realize, having read the common core standards for yourself, that one of the standards is for kids to have math tables memorized. Here’s one from grade 3: “By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.”

      1. I’m sure you realize starting a sentence with “I’m sure you realize” is antagonistic and if you are going to try and insult me you should have done a much better job than this. I am glad you can read. Based on your comment I can see why you would have to tell people that.

        I never claimed to have read in depth beyond first for this article. Reread for content and accuracy. Those are CC requirements for most grade levels.

        I fail to see how your comment is relevant. Show the doubles fact that helps me solve the doubles +1 in first grade or any grade and you might regain my interest. Until then I encourage you to continue reading so one day you will become minimally proficient.

        1. A lot of kids have memorized their doubles before they know all the single-digit addition. So, they bridge from there to the near-doubles. It seems like a sensible thing to do, at least for some kids. I know my own now-fourth-grade son learned his addition this way at first, because it seemed easiest for him.

          For example: You want to know 8+9. You know your doubles, so you know 8+8 is 16. Thus, 8+9 is 17. I see educationrocks explains this below. Anyway, this adding 1 is a nice strategy in general, and if you know your doubles it instantly doubles the number of single-digit additions you know. Or more than doubles, if you consider 8+9 and 9+8 to be different.

          1. I pulled this as a random example but there are plenty more where this came from.    Does it make sense to teach this way if parents are not aware of this terminology or how to help, even in first grade?    Does this strike you as particularly rigorous, as CCSS supprters claim?    How is this a “deeper understanding” off math.  And what is a double fact that helped me solve a double +1. . . anyone?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

            Why the coloring?   Why the matching of 5 cards, whatever those are.  Why not call them boxes?   How does one color all the remaining items. . . twice!  What does that teach?    I see people tackling a few little snippets of my critique without addressing it in its entirety or addressing that any of the core claims made by Common Core, that this is rigorous, and necessary to compete in a global marketplace and to get a science or technology job.  I’ve had those jobs.  I have one now.  I still don’t need this and doubt i ever will.    Maybe some of this is explained in a textbook, but our district does not have them.  I’m not sure any district has them or that they exist.    Why does it make sense to rush this through if we’re going to do it so poorly, with untrained teachers, no materials or resources, untested and untried curricula? What exactly did they think would happen?  Only a fool would think this wouldn’t fail.  so our superintendent is a fool, or he intended for this to fail.  Since we tied high stakes testing for grading teachers and schools, and his goal is to privatize all poor performing schools he intends for this to fail, and he and Bobby Jindal are using our kids for their political and personal agenda. . .to create failing schools, which they can close and create more charters that do not get evaluated. . .  for years.      

            1. Charter schools do get evaluated. They get evaluated by the parents. If your Charter school is nit up to snuff you change schools.

              1. Gonna have to call BS on that.  Not all charters are open to all students.  All data not available to parents.  Data not audited and easily falsified. Charters do not have to comply with same laws and constraints traditional schools do which can really limit and exclude special education students, especially in places like New Orleans where all the schools are basically charters of one form or another. What do you do in a place like St Helena that only has one schools for each grade and RSD  fought school from openning additional grades to give parents a choice?

                1. Why would ‘all students’ matter. Charter schools are a parental choice. It is the public schools that are mandated by a parents location. If a parent is not happy with a Charter school they can pull their kids. The Orleans schools got taken over by the State because they were ultra failing (down in the 20-30 point range on a 200 point scale. Katrina iced the takeover that was already going to occur. Orleans only kept 8 schools. Even Franklin went Charter.

                    1. No, just a fact. Charter schools are enrolled in by choice by parents. If a Charter schools sucks, the parents can pull their kids and out them in a different school.

                    2. Im not going to bother arguing with your “facts” which are little more than misleading propagandized talking points.  Have you talked to a lot of the poor parents in New Orleans and the “reality” behind your facts?  I have.

          2. I never learned about near-doubles, but I came up with that strategy on my own to use “inside my head” in elementary school in the 1950s. IMO it is useful to share strategies when children are struggling; but teaching every imaginable “strategy” seems to make basic facts more confusing for some students and their parents.

          3. “A lot of kids have memorized their doubles before they know all the single-digit addition.” I thought kids weren’t supposed to memorize random facts any more. I thought they said students should have an in depth knowledge of addition when doing addition?

            1. @benoit: Did you have a big glass of Snide today? Joshua wrote in part, “A lot of kids have memorized their doubles before they know all the single-digit addition. So, they bridge from there to the near-doubles. It seems like a sensible thing to do, at least for some kids. I know my own now-fourth-grade son learned his addition this way at first, because it seemed easiest for him.”

              You might have asked when and where Joshua think kids have memorized (and what he means exactly by that word in this context) their doubles, or the same about his son.

              Kids “memorize” things on their own in many different ways. I learned doubles from playing board games with dice. MONOPOLY is one where doubles were important. I don’t believe I sat down and said, “Hey, I’ll do rote repetition with flash cards, choral recitation with my brothers, etc., until I have “on demand recall” to demonstrate “mastery.” I just absorbed the facts over time through exposure to them and caring because there was a salient context (for me).

              My son just liked showing me he “knew” stuff in math before he was in school and after. Little kids often do. Doubles were some of the things he liked to show off. When he was five, I was driving him to Kindergarten. He said, “Dad, I know how much 100 + 100 is.” I said, “Oh? What is it?” and he responded, a little smugly, “200.” So I said, “Well, do you know how much 250 + 250 is?” figuring that he probably wouldn’t. He thought for a few seconds, then said, “300.” But before I could react, he said, “No, wait. It’s 500.” I was impressed, I must say. I asked him to explain how he knew. He told me, “Well, 200 + 200 is 400. And 50 + 50 is 100. So 250 + 250 has to be 500. And the reason I said 300 was that I thought you asked about 150 and 150.”

              I suspected at that point that math would not be much of a problem for him in K-12 (and I was right).

              Now, despite your apparent sarcasm, I’ve never heard of anyone saying that kids aren’t supposed to memorize “random facts” or anything else. Kids do what kids want on their own time. Joshua’s point, which I made separately, is that many kids come to school having “learned” certain things about math. No one forced them to learn those things, in many cases. They just did. Through various experiences. No teacher could (or would) do a thing about that, right?

              Further, these are NOT random facts. They’re facts of a very definite kind, ones that many kids find inherently interesting. And as Joshua suggested, teachers are well-advised to help them learn other addition facts by building on those facts they MAY already know. The word “memorized” here is, I strongly suspect, a convenient synonym for “learned,” not likely intended to be taken literally.

              Finally, none of the above is something new with the Common Core. So if your concern is that teachers are using this excellent method for helping students to learn some basic addition facts, you’ll have to find someone else to be pissed off at. John van de Walle, probably the best author of K-8 math methods books this country ever produced, was an advocate of this and related ideas in primary grade math teaching. You could yell at him, but sadly he passed away in 2006 at the age of 63. A tragic loss to the mathematics education community. Fortunately, his ideas are preserved in his widely-used books. No connection with the Common Core, at least not directly, though I think he might well have agreed with some of the ideas that informed a subset of authors of materials for K-8 mathematics. That’s because, as I’ve said, no one invented new mathematics for “the Common Core Math.” Or for the “New New Math” of the ’90s. And so on.

            1. Lily, where did Joshua or anyone suggest that something new was under consideration. Nothing in the math content standards is new.

        2. Doubles and doubles +/-1 refer to certain types of addition facts (1+1, 1+2, 2+2, 2+3, 3+3, 3+4, etc.). The reason these facts are referenced so much is because children, typically, learn doubles quite easily and can then be used as a reference for doubles +/- 1. If you read the progressions documents, authored in part by some of the writers of the common core, (http://commoncoretools.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/ccss_progression_cc_oa_k5_2011_05_302.pdf) you’ll learn about the 3 developmental levels of reasoning students use when adding and subtracting. Using known facts and creating easier, equivalent facts is the third level of developmental reasoning. Your first grader should be using a counting on strategy (that was the point of the coloring the facts sheet) and moving into using doubles and easier, equivalent fact strategies as she moves into second grade. Just like all areas of child development, these timelines vary from child to child. The important thing is to help your child develop strategies for adding and subtracting and to ask her to explain her thinking. This practice will lead to fluency with basic facts and allow her to be a flexible, mathematically proficient student in later grades.

          It sounds like asking her teacher to explain the homework would help bridge the divide between school and home, increasing your daughter’s academic success. Likely, if you’re wondering what the homework means, other parents have similar questions.

      2. Wow, ICanRead, makes me wonder how I managed to become a productive member of society, let alone end up with two degrees (cum laude) in education (which is 2 more than Arne Duncan has, BTW), when I didn’t have to learn my times tables till 4th grade. Shame on my school district for dumbing me down. LOL

        1. Crunchydeb and Crazycrawfish, I think you are misunderstanding Icanread’s response. I think it was just letting Bridget know that memorizing the times tables and such are still a part of the math standards. It IS important to go to the common core website and read the standards for each grade. In the schools that actually purchased common core math curriculum materials, these are laid out in the books and explained, and there are “take home” sheets and online videos that help parents know how the work is supposed to be done. I sympathize with the homework angst – in trying to help my granddaughter with math I ran into the same thing, but it was because she transferred schools between 3rd and 4th grade and landed in Singapore math with no lead-in. It took her the year to catch up but now she is doing great and having no problems in middle school math. And common core math uses many of the methods of Singapore math. Teachers were thrown into the middle of this with no preparation or curriculum in many cases, and this has led to the widespread misunderstandings. As oldteach says below, much of this has been around for a long time. My own children were taught differently than I was, and now my grandchildren have new ways as well. In the world of tomorrow, yesterday’s methods may not be adequate preparation for the adults of tomorrow. You don’t have to throw Common Core standards completely out – you have to phase them in with common sense and education for teachers AND parents, something White does not understand. Now PARC, on the other hand, needs to be buried forever and never dug up!!! I don’t know the background on how the CC Math standards were developed, but they should have been done the way the science standards are being done, with lots of feedback from science teachers as well as scientists. If there wasn’t input and feedback from math teachers along the way, that was a big mistake, but I would hope that NCTM was involved somewhere, just as NSTA and others were involved in science.

          1. I do not disagree.

            However we do not have a phased in approach nor do we have adequate preparation or materials. Nor has this been done in a transparent way that would lead me to believe this will be adequate preparation for the “world of tomorrow.” What we have is a cluster that was done for the express purpose of participating in PARC.

        2. Jobs with a computer science degree REQUIRE 3.5 GPA or better. Did you get a mathematical degree with a 3.5 GPA or better?

    2. This kind of approach is terrible for technology related math. This approach to math is exactly the reason for the change.

  7. I haven’t made it through the full article, but your mention of Chris Meyer and ‘Chicken’ Jacob Landry reminds me of their comments during the prep for RTTT. “Arne has assured us …” That was a common phrase for the whole gang back then – Pastorek, Dobard, Reign Martin, and of course, the more recent arrival, White, knows everyone on a first name basis. Can’t say I agree with all the Common Core Commotion, but keep hammering the legislature if you are truly opposed. They had White backpedaling a couple of weeks back. They are the ones who arranged for Pastorek to get the ax, but the cancer had already spread.

  8. I understood the pages correctly. The reason for the “doubles” is because they think its easier for kids to catch on to; for example 5+6=? . Well, kids recognize almost immediately that 5+5=10 so to just add 1 will give them their answer. So 5+6=11. Majority of these kids know their doubles better, so all they are trying to do is simplify it for them. Then the problem above add doubles to 20. Ok, 5+5=10 again 5+5=10. The answer would be 5+5+5+5=20 or 5+5=10; 5+5=10; 10+10=20

    1. And then they are screwed by 9+3. Explain the doubles fact that helped solve the double+1. Just because you can do something doesnt mean you should. I thought this was supposed to be rigorous, not “easier”.

          1. You don’t plus one there. You use a ten. 9 goes up one to ten, 3 goes down one to 2.

            Different rule gets applied. A doubling plus 1 rule only covers a small part of the math table.

            1. That is retarded and not something most parents would know.  You are most likely a TFA teacher past or present or affiliated with one of the faux grassroots groups paid to support this mess.

                1. Five group may be a 5 frame. A way of organizing quantities into groups of five so that operations make sense and so that kids begin to realize that numbers represent quantities.

            2. That’s stupid. So we take 9+3 and turn it into 10+3-1? Why not go 9+3=12 based on simple number order? That’s taking something simple and making it complex just to call it rigor. It’s stupid.

              1. @benoit: always wonderful to see an open mind at work. While I’d like to point out just why it’s not at all stupid and has practical applications in the real world as well as in learning and using other mathematics, your mind is clearly made up. I don’t want to feel guilty for causing you cognitive dissonance. So by all means, dismiss this alternative idea to the way your were taught as “stupid.”

                1. @ Michael Paul Goldenberg: always wonderful to see smugness isn’t beneath someone of your esteem. Thanks for slumming it with us commoners. I’m a little short, so may have to look even further down your nose at me. (Now can we quit trying to find passive aggressive ways of insulting one another? Ok, I was a little less passive) My mind is never made up. I know, it’s hard to believe, but I am pretty open minded. Though it sounds oxymoronic (or just moronic) I’m also a skeptic by nature. Skeptical of everything. Aggravates my wife to death. (She says I’m a bit snarky too) (and use parentheses incorrectly) (and too often) I change my views on many things as the evidence presents itself.

                  I love mathematics. Math is the secret code to the universe. The beauty. The symmetry. Took extra math classes in high school and college. All before graphing calculators became affordable. When I took a class in college, the TI-85 (I actually rented one) only slowed me down. It took the professor longer to tell us how to use the machine than for me to finish the problem. But 9+3 is 12. It’s plain and simple. Why make it complicated?

                  It’s just that, to me, if a kid understands and can compute 9+3 in his head why make it more difficult? It’ll only confuse them. “Why are you changing the numbers? Why is 9 now 10?” Stupid is a sophomoric word to use, but making something complex when it doesn’t need to be is…well…stupid. I know where this number substitution is headed though, 99+97 quickly is (100+100) – 4. You get to 196 quicker that way. (Is that a “real “world” application or am I being dissonant?) But something like 9+3 doesn’t need complication. Now throw all that into a classroom, depending on the grade level and ability of the kids, such manipulations may be confusing or inappropriate. 9+3 does not need to be made into a multi step problem when it is a simple counting issue. For Jason’s first grader it is probably still addition as counting practice. I’m not a math teacher so I’m probably all wrong. I am a teacher though and I understand teaching and learning. I know kids are not little adults. They do not think and process information like adults do.

                  Dad brag time!! My kid is developing an appreciation for math (he says it’s his favorite subject). He’s doing quite well, even with the curriculum change. (That one weird assignment with the blocks that was overly complicated is the exception). He’s mentioned that most of this new way of doing things, like number substitutions, is things he’s been doing already, figured most of it out on his own. I only hope these ridiculously confusing assignments don’t dampen that enjoyment.

                  To circle back to Common Core. To hear the supporters/marketing behind Common Core, the only way to prepare kids for college or a career is through their curriculum, sorry, I mean standards. That’s an insult to all the schools and teachers that were preparing their kids before. All that hard work, all those results, meaningless. Some non-teacher folks met in secret a few times and figured it all out. This is such a great system they don’t even need to hold any type of test and adjustment period! Results, research?! Who needs it when we have rigor, right? It’s an insult to those of us that were taught the wrong way but still, somehow, overcame all the odds (yes, sarcasm) to go to college and become highly successful in our careers. And, GASP! Some of us even went to public school. IN LOUISIANA. Seriously though, there are many valid ways to teach kids but it’s insulting to professional teachers when we are told that this is the one way we are allowed to reach our kids. Teachers should have a bag full of ideas and strategies to reach kids. You don’t dare go off script, the fear of being labeled ineffective is strong. It’s all about the test, a score on some magic formula. Pray for bonus points. We (teachers) are just beat down and highly defensive. Sorry if I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. What I need is scotch and to update my resume.

                  Sorry if I sound insulting. I’m know you mean well. You’re probably even right. Maybe were just both a little defensive?

                  1. Ha, thanks for the post above and to crazy crawfish for hosting this discussion. I came to this blog from a recent, frustrating encounter with Eureka math in my sons first grade class. My initial reaction was, this feels wrong, and my sentiments are echoed. The politesse of the average person is allowing this particular gaslight to steamroll the common sense that I feel in my core. The reviews Great Minds Inc. gives itself are absolutely glowing! The word Eureka should be slapped out of their conceited minds. It nonsensically corporate chatted itself right into the good graces of school officials pressed for solutions to commoncore compliance. As we twist ourselves into pretzels trying to swallow this convoluted bullshit charters laugh it to the bank. Fuck these math shackles.

  9. When I was but a wee lad, the school system adopted a new math series that introduced the concepts of algebra in the elementary grades. All of the “what was wrong with the way we learned it” folks called it ‘new math.’ The school system offered evening classes for parents to learn how to help their kids. My father, who was well versed in mathematics, recognized it for what it was, and I became the top math student in my class.

    Presently, I have numerous acquaintances who teach math, elementary to calculus. The elementary kids whose parents don’t try to assist them by overruling the classroom instruction and “learning them the right way, by god!” will have a much easier time with algebra and the more complex math processes when they get to that course work. This is what the math teachers say – not the elementary teacher who has to teach math and needs the answer key in the teachers edition to know if a kid’s answer is right or not.

    George Noell, lured to the LDoE by Pastorek, slipped the hook and made a getaway back to the world of ed research. He always said that if we can get a kid to pass algebra we can get him to graduate. Those who flunked out of pirate school when I attended, did so because of algebra, often very basic algebra. One of my swabbies today will turn beet red and start hyperventilating when she hears the word algebra or if she hears someone speak with the same accent her foreign algebra instructor had.

    Jethro always said naught ‘n naught is naught. I learned to “carry” numbers, but my son learned to regroup. That New York math talks about shifting.

    Were teachers adequately prepared? No. Were decisions made too quickly? Yes. Is it unreasonable to expect involved and concerned parents to learn a different approach to math, one that will allow their kids a leg up when they hit algebra? No, it isn’t.

    Great explanation, education rocks.

    1. This system is terrible and will not prepare anyone for anything. It wilk cause more hyperventilating not less, if that is how you are measuring success.

      Are you teaching this math or tutoring and children or grandchildren or just pontificating from atop your mountain? Im not sure I would quote Noell, creator of the VAM sham as a credible source. I have mathematicians and teachers that say this math and method sucks. Shall we have them duke it out in a ring?

      You sat the rollout and Professional Development/training sucked. I concur. What good is a class or lesson that nobody has been instructed to teach?

      You seem to dis elementary teachers and claim high school teachers and college professors love this stuff. You know, that attitude ignores and screws over more than 2/3rds of our 700,000 students and families and just doesn’t work for someone like me with a preschooler and first grader. Care to swab the deck and try again or are you ready to walk the plank?

    2. Good post, Mickey. But it’s mostly falling on angry, deaf ears connected to angry, closed minds.

      This is yet another tragedy of GERM/Education Deform and the Common Core Initiative: excellent ideas will now be dismissed out of hand, not only by closed-minded parents (long history of that in mathematics education) but by teachers who should at least realize that there are lots of good ways to think about and do arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, etc., and to problem-solve. Instead, they’re digging in their heels because they’re scared by things they don’t understand and pissed off at the high-handed imposition of the entire Common Core enterprise and everything intertwined with it that really IS bad for teachers and kids.

      So now, any attempt to show the sensible underpinnings here gets dismissed. It’s babies thrown out with bathwater, and those of us who try patiently (or not so patiently after 20+ years of the Math Wars) to try to explain why this stuff is grounded in sensible mathematics and pedagogy (even if any given implementation might be flawed) is setting him/herself up as a more accessible target for a lot of rage.

      I tell teachers that having a bigger bag of ideas (not tricks) is always an advantage in mathematics: for teachers, for kids, for administrators, for parents (!!!). Getting people past their fear, loathing, and rage, however, is no mean feat. It was “merely” extremely challenging in the ’90s thanks to absurd propaganda from the Mathematically Correct/NYC-HOLD folks and their allies, the right-wing think tanks and foundations that supported their educationally conservative/reactionary views, and so on. But now, it borders on the impossible. Trying to explain to people that a novel isn’t evil just because it’s in a list of books in the Common Core documents or that ideas that may be unfamiliar to parents about school mathematics aren’t destructive simply because they show up in the latest wave of textbooks. Anything published today in K-12 math HAS to say it’s “Common Core-aligned” unless it’s only going to be sold in 5 or so states. And right now, that creates knee-jerk rage in some people, regardless of what materials we’re talking about.

      I find it particularly intriguing that there is actually a Facebook page, started by a conservative Christian of Asian descent (who grew up in Brazil and lives in Missouri) attacking Singapore Math and its use in some schools in his area and many districts nationally. Why the furor? Well, at least in part, it is officially “Common Core-aligned.” And of course, few contemporary American parents are familiar with the approaches those books use. Ironically, throughout the Math Wars, the folks I’ve opposed have mostly lauded Singapore Math as the effective alternative to the so-called fuzzy math books they despise (e.g., Everyday Math, Trailblazers, Investigations in Number, Space, & Data, etc., for elementary grades). I suspect there is a growing number of Teabillies out there, however, who will automatically dismiss Singapore Math because of that Common Core-aligned label.

      Go know.

      1. I work part time for a textbook company (NOT Pearson) and our books are labeled Common Core because, as Michael said, they can’t be sold otherwise! I do in-services to help teachers implement our books, and I can attest that they are nothing like the Engage NY materials, and if your students were using them you would understand it all better. One teacher shared the explanation of why she loved our materials – she put out a problem, every child in her class solved it correctly, and they used a variety of different processes to get to the right answer. Each used what they understood and what fit their own learning style!! THAT is what the materials are trying to elicit. Ours start with a problem and have the students try to solve it, NOT the example that they are supposed to emulate. And of course, Singapore Math was the original program that increased student achievement in math, and many of the ideas were incorporated in the standards. However, going along with what Michael said, in one school, they are having to remove the books that say “Common Core” and replace them with the same books that don’t have that labeling because the parents were so irate about the whole idea of Common Core. Remove PARC, add phased in implementation with adequate training for teachers, and then give them GOOD materials, and this outrage would be unnecessary. Redirect the anger toward the proper places, including a misguided or subversive DOE head.

        1. @pittypatbr: that was enlightening in some ways and confirmatory in others to what I’ve known about textbook publishing or deduced. What math series does your company publish (or would that be telling)? ;^)

          Soon, we’ll see textbooks shipped in a plain brown wrapper. 🙂

          1. I would rather not say, but let me just say they they have been top-rated for years, and you know them, I am sure. But many schools don’t have the money for new textbooks, and the districts in Louisiana are under some pressure to use only on-line materials.

              1. @cc: follow the money on that one. But would you find this stuff less objectionable if the sources were different? I can’t speak for you, but what I’m seeing looking at the reactions in a whole bunch of states and communities, any appearance of the words “Common Core” can be fatal. Perversely, I find it SO ironically amusing that companies are putting out new covers/editions with no reference to Common Core. Same materials, of course. For those of us who lived through the incredible nonsense of the adoption state crap from the last 20 years (it’s longer than that, but my interest for math is during that era), there’s a definite schadenfreude.

              2. White seems to be encouraging superintendents and districts to move toward online resources. All of the textbook samples must now be submitted online, and various statements he has made mention online textbooks as the coming thing. Of course he seems to forget the lack of computer access for many students at home, as well as at school. But PERHAPS the push toward the online assessments and the online textbooks are linked and have to do with the source of the money, as Michael states. Pearson has put a lot of emphasis in recent years on their online textbooks and resources, by the way, as well as developing PARC. And of course Gates wouldn’t be interested in more computers required, now would he?

  10. http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/my-100th-post-so-why-not-bash-algebra/

    I am not a mathematician but I am a critical thinker. Making sense of something does not require you to actually MAKE that something. It would seem important that most people should be able to make sense of math but that requiring all to have the ability to build bridges if spaceships is ludicrous. Making sense of math involves the same critical thinking skills as making sense of everything else. We are (and Common Core is) bypassing or substituting for those skills (in spite of their insistence that CCSS provides depth over breadth). Grant Wiggins has several posts on Common Core (which he appears to support in concept but not in application). Interesting explanation here of “teaching” algebra.

  11. I am a retired teacher. We were doing this kind of math long before common core. I have been retired for 11 years and taught it for several years prior to that. There lots of problems I see with common core when I substitute, but we cannot blame this math on common core.

        1. no arguments here, but better materials were not recommend, nor provided, nor was additional funding provided for this mandate. Textbooks don’t grow on trees you know. . . well, hmm, they come from trees I suppose, but don’t grow on them. 🙂

  12. Reblogged this on @ THE CHALK FACE and commented:
    This is a fantastic analysis of something that is typically throwaway for most teachers: HOMEWORK.

    Teachers, you have to empathize with parents a bit and try to understand how much of a hassle it really is.

    Do better.

    This is why I DO NOT assign homework.

  13. Maybe it’s because my siblings and I grew up with NCLB, but I understand the instructions (except the 5-group card). I don’t think any first-grader would, however. I think this is a very strange way to teach math (and I have since I was in middle school, when my younger sisters would bring home similar worksheets), at least from a student’s perspective. I can see the rationale behind a lot of the assignments, but I question their effectiveness.

  14. Having read through this article and some of the comments, I feel like there is no space to say anything that won’t be dismissed unless it is a completely harsh critique of not only the ENGAGE-NY materials and every word in the CCSS math content standards (neither of which I am prepared to do, despite my unwavering rejection of the CCSS INITIATIVE (that is, the overall game plan of which the CCSS is but one major, but not independent, piece), but also the rejection of any IDEA that is contained within the CCSS math standards document ,which includes all the Practice Standards, the vast majority of which I happen to support, from long before there was a Common Core. Those ideas were in all the NCTM Standards documents going back at least as far as 1989, and many of the key ideas there are older than that by more decades than most people who are parents of K-5 children have been alive.

    I say this without wishing to exacerbate a difficult situation or to antagonize the blogger or Shaun Johnson and other commenters whom I know and like, but the analysis here is, sadly, very problematic.

    I have tried to blog about some of the key issues that are arising “thanks” to the idiocy of how the Common Core Initiative was conceived, created, and foisted upon the nation, and to get folks to understand that it’s perfectly reasonable to reject what’s coming out of the current Initiative on principle (“I refuse to accept any part of the Common Core and its assessments as long as these things are being forced upon the American public,” is a reasonable position, one I personally hold myself, but there’s a rider: “I reserve the right to analyze and accept or reject as seems reasonable any specific lesson, idea, approach, tool, etc., after we’ve ended the current insanity. If something is in the Common Core standards, it might be bad, indifferent, good, or even excellent, and I won’t be so foolish as to insist that it must ALWAYS be viewed negatively because, through no fault of those who originally developed many of the sound ideas that just happen to have arisen in the wide scope of things that are now associated with CCSS.”

    I don’t think there’s much of that going on, whether the critics are progressive, Tea Party, or of some other viewpoint. Either people accept and support the entire thing (or nearly so), or quite the opposite. And to my thinking, that is an enormous error.

    I read this blog piece yesterday and thought seriously about going over the entire set of problems and trying to show that in fact, pretty much everything in it makes mathematical sense. But I decided it would take a long time and would likely not be read by many people open-mindedly. And without a dispassionate look at what I could readily write, it would be a complete waste of time and effort.

    Also, my doing so would not be a defense of the Common Core in general, the bloody Engage-NY stuff, which seems to have been done by lunatics or, far more likely, either in much too much haste or by people whose agenda was to cause PRECISELY a sense of failure that a lot of folks probably felt when the test results in NY State came back from last year’s students. That is, as I have argued elsewhere, much of the goal of the overall Initiative is to produce defeat so that the bigger agenda – dismantling public education and selling it to the oligarchs so they can make billions of dollars from it – can succeed. I don’t know if those at the top of this monstrosity anticipated the backlash, however.

    So now, I can try to sell people here on the notion that what you’re seeing isn’t necessarily unfathomable (I really am not having trouble making sense of the work being analyzed here), but that it’s been done in a way that makes it hard for a lot of folks to “get” the reason for these problems.

    A few people have made comments that suggest they do understand, and I suspect that those of us who can make sense of it are folks with a background in math education sufficient to have seen variations on these themes before. But I don’t recall ever seeing mathematics materials given to primary grade students (K-2) with so much ridiculous language. My sense is that these same questions could be asked in ways that would be vastly more accessible not only to the most advanced kids, but to kids who had been exposed to the mathematical ideas in class and were understanding those ideas, but without the jargon. Instead, someone either consciously decided to make this seem unfathomable to kids, parents, and many teachers, or else someone so badly misunderstands the difference between primary and elementary (3-5) grades in terms of textual/linguistic fluency that they have effectively torpedoed the usefulness of these problems outside of class (and possibly even in class).

    Without sitting in on classes in NY State (or any other state using this stuff), I can’t judge how much teachers get it and how well they are helping students get it. But sending these materials back for homework is a clear-cut recipe for panic, rage, and disaster. And, not surprisingly, that’s what’s going on.

    If, of course, there were no high stakes tests in primary grades (I don’t think there should be in ANY grades, but that’s a bigger discussion), as there clearly should not be – NY State has suddenly agreed to that fact – the pressure would be far less and MAYBE everyone would calm down a bit. Not likely at this point, though: the horse is out of the barn, the barn is on fire, and the horse has gone mad with terror.

    Maybe I will take a crack at trying to shed some light on the ideas, regardless of what I might think about the INCITE-NY . . . um, sorry, ENGAGE-NY site as a whole, just to try to lower some blood pressure. But I’m not in the mood to get pilloried for trying to do so, to be accused of being pro-CCSSI when I am consistently opposed to it, or in general getting screamed at by people of any political stripe.

    So I think I’ll see what sort of comments this draws, and I will likely circulate it on Facebook, too. If there is enough interest in my analysis/explanation . . .

    1. I agree with almost everything you said, Paul.  I think you made my points for me better than you realized and actually agree with the purpose of my post more than you admit.  I was pointing out non-math folks or people not exposed to it have no clue how to handle this or why they should be. I am speaking on behalf of them and as one of them. While everyone is our debating the merits and benefits of CCSS every day we have more kids and parents thrown under the bus as part of a political game. This speaks of monstrously poor execution and leads me to believe this was done so incompetently the folks in charge wanted it to fail. I too disagree with how this initiative was conceived, developed and bribed through legislatures nationwide. In Louisiana we adopted them even before the standards were released. I am speaking on behalf of parents that have to deal with this mess. I have resources that would allow me to muddle through better than most, but where would that leave everyone else, and why should I be forced to muddle if this is the greatest invention since the internets? 

      I do jump on people that talk down to me and insult my intelligence or refuse to address my points and address only small parts or misquote me. So far you havent done that, so you should be safe enough from my verbal barbs for now.  🙂

    1. What is the “math way” and the “regular way” of counting all about they posted in their video I posted with the teacher clapping her kids into bored submission? Anyone know?

      1. Honestly, I want to shoot that woman on sight. And there is no such thing as a “math way” and a “non-math” way to do math, unless we are talking about getting the answers through contacting the spirits of the dead or something along those lines. I just hate when teachers make that sort of false dichotomy: it gives the game away to the students as to what method is valued by the teacher. And once that happens, there’s no need for students to think or judge.

        I don’t recall reading any “clapping” standard in the Common Core.

        1. The actual standards, such that they are, seem reasonable enough. . .but they appear to be a Trojan horse designed to allow outfits like EngageNY and Pearson to have their way with designing the supporting materials. The PARCC test and test prep materials will ultimately determine what gets taught in schools, not CCSS at all. Those tests will be developed based on the curricula that Pearson and folks like EngageNY develop. I think CCSS could be guidelines any state can choose to use, discard or expand upon but I disagree with tying high stakes testing to it, or giving corporations so much influence, or any influence or mandating it without any modifications (or limiting modifications 15% although its unclear how that would even be measured.)

          This initiative is doomed to failure because of the way it was rolled out and forced upon people and because of the horrible bribes and propaganda that came with it that feed an even greater cycle of distrust. Just like Wall Street, Pearson and company got too greedy and tried to force feed us our medicine so they could rack up profits selling it to us. I suspect everyone will spit it out and we’ll have to start all over. Actual trust, engagement and an open honest democratic process could have gone a long way. Sadly, the ones that really lose are the children in this game of greed.

          1. It isn’t just the math. Zaner-Blaser CC workbook for Lit/Writing in 3rd grade is nothing but brainwashing for social advocacy. It teaches that it is preferable to use “angry words,” that in the sentence “My Mom ___ (tells/nags) me to clean my room,” the preferred word to use is “nags”. Pure beginner programming to teach disrespect for parents. CC stands for Communist Core.

            1. Congratulations on winning the assmonkey Teabilly Award for most inane comment of the decade. Now, crawl back under that rock, okay?

              1. Oh, my. Thought you’d show your true colors, eventually. Does “seeing it with my own eyes” count? Does critical thinking count? Nah. And FYI, you might realize, as the author did, that Conservatives aren’t quite so stupid as some think. LOL Now you can go nag someone else, moron. I will thus far ignore you.

                1. I make no claim about conservatives in general, just you. You are an unapologetic tinfoil hat wearing troglodyte. Your anti-communist bilgewater is useless.

        2. It’s supposed to be the “tens way” Not the math way. 1 tens 2 tens 3 tens etc. I think this used to be used in multiplying to set them up/prep them for counting by tens in the future- 10, 20, 30, 40. But now they have changed it to the tens way of ten 1, ten 2, blah blah, like they think that’s easier than 11, 12, 13. I honestly think it boils down to they claim to not want to use memorization methods, so they complicate the most basic crap to make it difficult to memorize. Seems to me that they want to confuse kids and parents, so when parents can’t help the kids will rely only on teachers. Kind of like an attempt to discredit parents, prove we’re stupid bc we were taught the old way, so then their bullshit approach to education reform, will seem necessary. Sounds twisted and paranoid to think it could be such twisted intentions, but that is what our government on nearly all levels is about. If they can prove that they were right, discredit old methods, discredit parents in the process, then they can win over more than enough people to justify the hijacking of the education system by federal government. I also believe that there is a major intention to discredit education given through homeschooling because parents haven’t been trained in teaching common core and with testing including it, coupled with colleges seeking it from applicants, more parents will choose against it. Government has always seemed to see homeschoolers as a nuisance, especially when so many homeschoolers outperform students educated through public school.

          Not that I’m an expert, I am a mother of 1 and an aunt to 11 only. I did have a love of learning in school til stupid teachers ruined it. Now I still live to learn but in my own way and only what I want to. That’s really what education should be about… learn what you need to, in a way that works for you, without it all being about test prep- while being allowed to explore areas of interest. Not the same way or materials for all. Some people don’t need all the extra steps to figure out a math solution, if they can determine the solution without creating more problems, why limit that brain power? Why are these individuals being limited by the others who need the extra steps. These are the ones who will be burned out, by unnecessary bullshit. They could be the future but most likely will get burned out, drop out, and never want to learn. We are essentially dumbing down our children.

          And for the love of all things, estimations and friendly numbers should in no way be the focus of a math curriculum.

          1. I am a 1st grade teacher teaching with Engage NY for the first time this year and I have to admit I did not understand at first why they were having the students count “The say 10 way”,but I assumed it had to do with place value. We practiced counting this way about once a week for about 2 months. Now my students are learning about place value and they are understanding the place value of 10s and 1s much faster than any of my previous 1st grade classes. Place value is a very difficult concept for many students throughout all grade levels. Kindergarten students of the past memorized the names of numbers without understanding what they represent. Common Core Math is about helping students decompose numbers which means seeing how they are made up of other numbers. I am so excited that my students did this seemingly silly counting activity saying numbers the “say ten way” because now they know that the number 17 is really a ten and 1 seven which is 10+7. This has been a Math standard in 1st grade for as long as I can remember. I know that this is a hard transition for everyone, but just because we as adults, parents, and even teachers don’t always understand how to do this type of math doesn’t make it bad. Computers, smart phones and technology in general scared and intimidated many older people because they didn’t understand how to use them, but that doesn’t make them horrible things that we should throw out and never use. I agree that Engage NY curriculum has a lot of typos, unclear directions and is not kid friendly. I personally do not send home the homework as a required assignment because I know that all of my 1st graders can’t read the instructions, and I believe that homework should be independent. I would love to see another publisher take this curriculum and turn it in to something that looks more like the curriculum our students are used to seeing, but because of time constraints I am sure they wanted to get something in the hands of teachers as soon as possible. I hope they make improvements, but I am not ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

            1. They have made better versions in my opinion. Go Math is one of them. There is no reason to endure a crapoy, typo-ridden, overly jargonized and complicated trash curriculum like EngageNy and Eureka. They should have gotten it right before unleashing it. They should have won people over instead of imposing it. They should not have lied about how it was created, who was involved and any number of other things. They paid consultants and to pose as normal teachers without disclosing their financial ties to these corporations. They are paying the salary of one of our state board of education members to push this curriculum. They have hired many seedy players to pretend to be grassroots organizers like Stand on Children to endorse this curriculum. In our state and many states it was adopted before it was created, sight unseen. Anecdotal evidence of one aspect of it working is not really sufficient to overturn all that. They rammed it through, but if it stays or not will be entirely the result of deceitful and callous way it was implemented. This should never surive as a template for how to manage people in a free society. It is an affront to everything i thought we stood for.

  15. This is the best row I’ve followed in a long time. Seems you struck a nerve, Jason. Now I ask all who responded, “What are you going to do about it?” I understand a whopping 2 dozen individuals showed up for a “rally” in the Acadiana region.

    1. Ive been keeping tabs on whats going on. I think you will be surprised what happens in the next legislative session. CCSS supporters had zero folks show up for their rallies. . . Because they didn’t have any. 🙂

    2. We didn’t show up because we were practicing our doubles. +1 of course. (That was meant to be humorous) Seriously though, if both parents work, cook dinner, homework, maybe dance or baseball practice, what else is there time for? We write to our representatives at 1:00 in the morning, but making it out to a demonstration, no way we have the time.

  16. We are suffering through this crap in NY and I assure you in middle school it gets no better. While math and English suck, this year the worst class for my daughter is Social Studies. Because of Common Core, the most bizarre and unanswerable questions are asked on these tests. It’s American History, which in theory given my daughter’s reading ability and political/historical/current events prowess, should be a snap, but whoever wrote this curricula is seriously deranged (outside knowledge from the students ISN’T allowed in the classroom). Most of it is virtually illiterate; we can’t even understand what is being asked–and the rest of it is just plain stupid, like “list the pros and cons of European Colonialism”, with rapturous descriptions of racial harmony that completely leave out Native American genocide. And we’re constantly running up against rules like “no more than three supporting details per paragraph!” (robot!) and the teacher’s insistence that he is not allowed to teach any local history (we are right in the middle of American Revolution battle sites) because “it’s not allowed by the Common Core”.

  17. My 1st grader in St. Tammany is dping the doubles work, so I feel your frustration. While the instructions and design of the problems are poor, there are some benefits to the doubles-type of teaching. We have been able to build off of the doubles problems and have started working on multiplication. The doubles also teach some advanced mathematics concepts such as equivalencies and transitive properties of numbers. We started teaching basic arithmetic before kindergarten, so this year we are able to move on to some algebraic forms. A lot of what we work on references back to the doubles. Also, by using some of t his year’s logic in math, we have touched on non-base 10 systems. I think that the common core has problems, especially in the teacher’s role of implementing the concepts; however, the math and some if the ELA concepts easily transition to more advanced topics.

  18. Oh, I have a headache. That is attrocious.

    Okay, first guess. A 5-group card is the number sequence from ONE to FIVE (5-group)

  19. My guess: The author intended the students to have decks of cards for the kids to play with. That they are using shorthand to refer to the 1-5 numbered cards, the 5 group. So “draw the 5-group card to show the double” means to write 4 below the 4 card. To pick a number 1-5 for the next card, and write that number in both cards, and then write a 5 below the 5 card.

    So. 4/4. 3/3. 5/5

    1. Interesting, but they do it with groupings of less than 5 and greater than 5 and this is a worksheet, so shouldnt they know based on the medium the information is being transmitted that actual cards are not involved?

      1. I suspect that the designer intended for actual cards to be used. It still does not excuse the horrible writing on the problem introductions. If the kids have been given a lesson that day with actual cards in hand… There would be a lot fewer headaches.

  20. Then we write the number sentence for each of the three card sets. So

    4+4 = 8. 3+3 = 6 And 5+5= 10

    The core lesson seems to be to get them to memorize the math tables for the doubling any number from one to five.

  21. Next problem “Find the 5-group cards in order from least to greatest. Double the number. Write the sentence”.

    So, student is sitting there with a deck of cards from 1-5.
    Now ask them to arrange them from lowest to highest.
    Then ask them to put the matching card underneath each card.
    The ask them to add the cards to come up with what the double is.

    So ti is. 1/1. 2/2. 3/3. 4/4. 5/5
    1+1=2. 2+2=4. 3+3=6. 4+4=8. 5+5=10

    The word 5-group is crosse out because the teacher found it confusing.
    Their english is atrocious.

    The lesson is again to learn the doubles for the numbers from 1 to 5. A small part of the addition table.
    The lesson also teaches the order of the numbers.

    1. What is so wrong with just having a worksheet that says solve: a.) 1+1= ____ b.) 2+2= ____ c.) 3+3=____ etc… ? Teach the same skills and keep it simple.

      1. @AngelaB: Did someone say there was anything wrong with that? In fact, doesn’t this start with a review of those facts? Some students in primary grades come to school knowing doubles through 6 (e.g., 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 4, . . . , 6 + 6 = 12) from playing games with dice, or from a natural fascination with doubles and square numbers. That’s why building the doubles plus one is a natural extension.

        1. Yes. There is a serious problem with the English used to write these word problems. As written, these problems are not understandable for a first grader.

          1. @nicholas – first, I don’t think ANY homework is sensible for first graders. That said, any reasonable assignment in class would have to be NOT dependent upon a 1st grader’s ability to read and understand the directions without help. The teacher should have gone over problems in class and at the most assigned 2 or 3 problems of the same type as what was done in class. Period.

            So, taking away the question of whether these are reasonable h.w. problems for 6 y.o.s, are they reasonable problems for in-class work with a competent teacher?

                1. Perhaps you should go back and read the prior posts. Plenty of analysis of the worksheets was done prior to coming to a judgment on the merit of the worksheets.

        1. No need to keep commenting. You have more than demonstrated your bona fides as a blithering idiot. We can just assume what bilge you will offer up in any subsequent remarks, saving everyone time and eyesight.

  22. I think that you are mistaken! Even though I am strongly against Common Core, this teacher’s curriculum and methods are not what you are interpreting them to be.

    The teacher’s lesson is similar to a program that I have used for he past 7 years with my children. My boys could solve add and subtract 2-3 digit quantities in their heads before 4th grade. Now my boys, 6th and 7th grade can solve algebraic equations, like 2x-5 = 75, in their heads, which many high school students cannot do. So there isn’t a problem with teaching doubles and near doubles, the method works. However, it will not work for you unless you re-educate yourself because you have learned a totally different way. I suggest that you buy a Right Start Mathematics and get started to re-learn, so that you can help your child learn, a different, BETTER, way to look at numbers. Yes, better, because of this program, I can add 2-3 digit numbers in my head without reaching for a calculator and I can solve math problems better than I could before. Even though I got an A in calculus in high school, and completed my B.S. in Chemistry, I still had to reach for the calculator, until I started homeschooling my children to learn math differently. It works, give it a chance!

    What you have interpreted as harsh claps, is the release for answers. She is allowing every child to think of the number in their heads, before they all answer together. This is different then when we went to school and one person always raises his/her hand and always gets called on and always has the right answer. This teacher’s method is allowing most of the children to have the opportunity to get the answer in his/her head. So when most children have hands raised, she claps and the children answer in unison.

    1. They are not raising their hands, they are yawning. Do you teach your kids to count the regular way and the math way too?
      Do you find this counting is necessary or vital for a science or technology job or more for a job that involves counting down a till at a cash register quicker? Did you find these materials to be exemplary or haphazardly designed and explained?

  23. The second page contains 3 problems:

    Problem1: Solve the number sentences. Easy enough
    3+3=6 5+5=10 1+1=2 4=2+2 8=4+4

    – Once again, all the problems involve the numbers from 1 to 5 (the 5-group)
    – Once again, all the math involves memorizing/learning the math tables for adding a number to itself (doubling the number).
    – They threw in two reversed problems just for grins.

    Problem 2: Match the top cards to the bottom cards to show doubles plus 1
    1 4 3 2 On Top
    5 2 3 4 On Bottom.

    – Horrible English. Ick.
    – Okay, what they want you to do is… hmm, how to explain it.
    – The kids have just learned the math table for the double of any number from one to five.
    – Now they want them to learn the math table for the section of the double of any number from one to five PLUS ONE.

    So they have just learned and memorized: 1+1; 2+2: 3+3; 4+4; and 5+5
    Now they want them to learn: 1+2; 2+3; 3+4; 4+5; and 5+6

    The sentence is very confusing. The above problem just involves adding ONE to each number. Can’t draw it on this computer,so here is the text
    …So the first top card (1) matches to the second bottom card (2)
    …The second top card (4) matches to the first bottom card (5)
    …The third top card (3) matches to the fourth bottom card (4)
    …and the fourth top card (2) matches to the third bottom card (3)

    Problem 3: Solve the number sentences. Write the double fact that helped you solve the double plus 1

    Here are the answers:
    2+3=5 3+4=7 4+5=9
    2+2=4 3+3=6 4+4=8

    These are the ‘double facts’ that helped you answer the above problems.

    – So the child is sitting there puzzled as to what 2+3 is.
    – They want the child to recognize that 3 is just one number above 2.
    – The child has just memorized 2+2 = 4
    – So they want the child to recognize that 2+3 is just (2+2) +1
    – So they want the child to do the math by doubling the first number and then adding ONE to the answer.

  24. The next page:

    “Solve the problems without counting (at?) all. Color the boxes using the key.
    Step 1: Color problems with “+ 1” or “1 +” blue
    Step 2: Color problems with “+ 2” or “2 +” green
    Step 3: Color problems with “+ 3” or “3 +” yellow”

    Problem 7 +1 = 8 8 + 1 = 9 3 + 1 = 4 5 + 3 = 8
    – Note 3+1=4 would have been yellow, but Step 1 already claimed it for the blue team.

    Problem 5 +2 = 7 4 + 3 = 7 6 + 3 = 9 8 + 2 = 10

    Problem 2 + 1 = 3 1 + 1 = 2 1 + 3 = 4 6 + 2 = 8
    – 2+1 would have been green per step 2, but already claimed as blue by step 1
    – 1+3 would have been yellow per step 3, but already claimed as blue by step 1

    Problem 3 + 3 = 6 6 + 1 = 7 3 + 2 = 5 5 + 1 = 6
    Color Yellow BLUE GREEN BLUE
    – 3+2 claimed by green first, so can’t color it yellow by step 3

    Problem 2 + 2 = 4 4 + 2 = 6 4 + 1 = 5 7 + 2 = 9
    Color Green Green Blue Green

    Problem 2 + 1 = 3 9 + 1 = 10 7 + 3 = 10 1 + 2 = 3
    2+1 was claimed by blue in step one, so can’t color it green in step 2
    1+2 was claimed by blue in step one, so can’t color it green in step 2

    – Say WHAT ?!?
    – What a strangely worded problem
    – Spacing is our friend.
    – Your stab is mostly correct. Just the 3rd column, 3 row needs to be blue not yellow. It is claimed by the +1 first.

    – Not sure what the goal is here.
    – They are obviously practicing learning the addition table for numbers from one to five.
    – I guess the color coding is so that the students see what category each problem fell within.
    — There were 11 problems adding one to a number
    — There were 8 problems adding two to a number
    — There were 5 problems adding three to a number.

  25. I have taught first grade for 23 years and the doubles and doubles + 1 strategies are old and not “new” because of common core. I have taught these mental addition strategies for 23 years.

      1. I do not like the format of the homework. I usually try to send home something that is not complicated for the parents to figure out. I also send notes updating parents (layman’s terms) on the mental math strategies their children are being taught. Unfortunately, I have many first graders this year who do their homework with little or no guidance so I have to be rather basic. It does take extra effort for a teacher to alter a worksheet or create one.

      2. In my inexpert opinion, the instructions are very poorly written. The lessons would be extremely confusing for the majority of parents and their kids.

            1. I was antagonized and frustrated and lost my cool, but I can tell you are knowlegable and you did not respond in kind which is commendable. I appreciate thoughtful insight even if I might disagree with it. You acknowledged the worksheets were deficient and cofusing even though you seemed to understand and agree with where they were going. The problem appears Louisiana did not address these deficiencies but embraced them by making EngageNY (in the form of Eureka) as the only recommended tier one curriculum. The worksheets are still fraught with errors and confusing language. We now have the CEO of PARCC confirming that the tests are meant to control the curriclum (the implication is that the Standards are less important than the tests) which is a chief concern and argument people have been making. Ergo, regardless of what the standards are the actual curriculum (Eureka/EngageNY) and the tests (PARCC/ smarter balanced) supercede it. So objections to those things are legitimate objections to the CC conversation/movement. Any thoughts? I will trt not to be an ass this time. 🙂

              1. You were perfectly fine. You have done a great job highlighting the problems with the math homework.

                I am not sure where you go from here. Let me toss some ideas.

                I think ‘Common Core’ will soon be dead. The roll out has been atrocious. But that is predicated on the effort of people like you and additional parents working very hard.

                Governor Jindal has ‘seen the light’ and flipped. He has gone full ‘stop common core’

                The next controlling authority is the BESE board. They need to be flipped. The last vote was 6-4. So a reconsideration with two votes flipping may be sufficient.

                The people to flip are:
                ..Holly Boffy, of Youngsville;
                ..Connie Bradford, of Ruston;
                ..Jim Garvey, of Metairie;
                ..Judith Miranti, of New Orleans;
                ..Kira Orange Jones, of New Orleans
                ..Chas Roemer, of Baton Rouge.”

                At the same time, or perhaps first, attack the root of the problem.
                .. The root of the problem is money. “The person with the Gold makes the rules”
                …. The Feds, ‘have the money’ (the truth is the Feds are dead broke)
                …… The Feds then use these ‘money gifts’ to force small groups/schools to dance to their tune.

                The price of a successful defense is an alternative solution.

                So what do we do when common core is completely dead instead of just almost dead?

              2. I believe teachers should control their own classroom and be responsible for how they teach and what curriculum they teach.

              3. I am not at all happy with ‘top down mandatory’ orders. Perhaps that is where Louisiana’s efforts always go astray. When we have to go to Washington/Baton Rouge/BESE to ague to try fix the problems then we are woefully off-course. We should just have to visit our teacher and principal.

              4. Those math techniques can be effective in the hands of a motivated teacher. But in a hands if a dispirited ordered teacher who does not understand – they are pure poison.

              5. The problem isn’t the math techniques, it is the education professionals trying to micromanage and control the teachers. They are taking a job that should be enjoyable and making it in to a drudgery.

                1. By the end of last year I came across a few math assignments I thought were kinda neat (but a lot more crap as well). I could see where they were going with some assignments. However, I think they were a little too challenging for my daughter without help. They were also not encumbered by a lot of needless jargon or accompanied by confusing or incorrect phrasing. They were definitely the exception, not the rule. It did make me wonder why they seemingly chose to overly complicate some instructions for simpler assignments when they were obviously capable of clarity when they wanted to for the more complex concepts.

                    1. @nicholasmjames: you have no doubt heard the phrase “consider the source.” Well, in the case of hyperbole from R. James Milgram via Andrew Breitbart, the saying goes double (or perhaps squared). Milgram has been preaching doom & gloom for US math education (and now for STEM) for about 20 years, but has never quite explained when it was that the state of US math education was vastly better for a significant percentage of students. Was it before the New Math movement in the late 1950s/early 1960s? After? When did things go wrong? When was the “Golden Age” of math teaching and learning, exactly? Jim doesn’t know. Neither do any of his (mostly) right-wing pals in Mathematically Correct or NYC-HOLD. That’s because it never existed.

                      This increasingly strange professional mathematician has said increasingly strange things about math education and mathematics educators. Please check out my blog post from 2010 about one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever read regarding math education: http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/search?q=milgram ; if after reading that you’re sure you want to cite Jim Milgram as an expert on the past, present, and future of US mathematics EDUCATION, then perhaps we should talk about Andrew Breitbart as a reliable, objective analyst of the politics involved in US public education.

  26. Man Oh Man. I’d like to see them overrun the Jindalites in the next session. I’ll bring the tar, you bring the feathers. We need a rail. Any volunteers.

  27. I just taught that lesson a few weeks ago in my first grade room. The amount of errors on these worksheets is exhausting. I really don’t even send homework home, because I think it is ridiculous. Half the time I ignore the directions and teach things the way they should be taught. If our government believed in teachers, life would be much easier for these kids.

  28. Common Core is a prime example of big government.. and we cannot separate that fact. If one supports the idea of federal government handling everything.. then they do in fact support the very ideals of Common Core.
    Those who believe in state control or small government.. have a foot to stand on arguing against it.

  29. The doubles are to introduce them to estimating In the future classes you will see that they will get credit fore getting close to the right answer.

    1. Sorry, David, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. This isn’t about estimation. It’s about using facts you (may) already know (doubles of single digit integers) to help understand and know related facts (doubles plus one, doubles plus 2, maybe doubles minus one).

      And sorry, Brandi, but no one is assuming that children MUST use doubles plus one to memorize a fact they already know. However, it is USEFUL in both arithmetic and algebra (for starters) to have that sort of flexibility when thinking about mathematics. For example, your son may be solid on 2 +3 but freeze on 7 + 8 (maybe he knows it and forgets; maybe he doesn’t know it yet. And maybe we’re talking about another student who isn’t your son). But a student who knows the doubles can find 7 + 8 easily and quickly, and effectively as fast as ‘on-demand recall,’ in my experience. Not to mention that: a) math isn’t a race, and b) many people who carp about progressive mathematics teaching are incensed by the use of calculators, particularly in early elementary (or even before high school). This gives a framework kids can use to build up their understanding and recall of elementary “facts.” So if this, too, is “unacceptable,” then I guess the ONLY approach you and people who think as you do will be satisfied with is “pure rote recall.” And I challenge you to tell the difference in practice.

      I also wonder if it’s wrong to teach children decomposing and composing numbers when: a) at least one leading Asian mathematics educator, Liping Ma, someone whose work is widely accepted by both educational progressives and conservatives in this country, has written about just this composing and decomposing numbers as the cornerstone of Chinese elementary math education in arithmetic (and said that it is why Chinese students are so comfortable with algebra, after the rigorous arithmetic teaching they are exposed to); and b) as someone who has worked with students from grades 3 – 12 in mathematics, I have noted that many difficulties students have in algebra can be predicted to lie in their confusion about basic arithmetic, at least in part because they rely SO much on recall that when they see 2x + 3x = ?, (or something slightly more complicated, but basically grounded in the same ideas), they aren’t able to think effectively about the component pieces with which they’re working and reason to the answer. Rather, if it isn’t instantly obvious to them, they feel that they SHOULD be able to just “recall” the answer and since that isn’t happening, “I dunno” is all too likely to be their refuge (or silence, or wild guessing).

      Nothing wrong with obtaining mastery/recall, but it’s not mathematics to be able to do so. A kid who actually “gets it” will develop mastery of the tables, in all likelihood, simply from working with a finite set of facts over the course of the first couple of years of school. It certainly can’t HURT to give children other ways to arrive at something. I used to “blank out” on 6 x 7 and 7 x 8 and 6 x 9 once in a while. And I was, as they say in Boston, “wicked fast” at elementary arithmetic. But, again, math isn’t a race, and I didn’t knock my head against the wall if I had a momentary lapse; I simply used the logical extension of doubles + one as applied to multiplication – x(x + 1) = x^2 + x, (not that I thought of it that way before I knew algebra) and so, for example, 7 x 8 = 7×7 + 7 or 49 + 7 = 56. I didn’t to write that down, either. For the 6 x 9, I used another variant: a x 9 = 9a and 9a = 10a – a. So 6 x 9 = (6 x 10) – 6 or 60 – 6 = 54. Again, trivially easy (for me) to do mentally.

      You don’t want your children knowing things like that? By all means, continue to trash everything that shows up in their classrooms that is news to you (or that your teachers didn’t tell you). I’m sure you can ensure that those kiddies develop a nice resentment of teachers for doing this “insane” “new” mathematics. Except that it’s not at all new, and it isn’t insane.

      And before you say anything about my alleged support for “the Common Core,” I openly oppose the CCSS Initiative. The politics. The high stakes, punitive testing. The ramming things down everyone’s throat and leveraging it with money. The selling out of our public schools. The attacks on teachers.

      But not the sound ideas that crop up in math materials (even if, yes, some of the writing seems strange or sloppy, and yes, some topics seem to have been arbitrarily pushed down or up to suit the fancies of the “Calculus in the Womb” crowd). I have yet to see anything in anything posted from “Common Core” math books that is a new idea. Sometimes the terminology is different from what I’m used to, but not the concepts or the methods. Could I write better materials? Yes, and so could tons of competent, creative math educators. But there’s nothing wrong with the math.

      1. Paul,

        I believe the anger and frustration you are expressing against parents subjected to this CC rollout is misplaced and misdirected. We are parents expressing out frustration at how this material is presented to us, our students and our schools. While you may know what this “doubles” is all about, many of us do not, and its not our fault. Despite your knowledge of this teaching method many of our teachers are not familiar with it, and did not receive any training to teach this way suddenly. Since this is introduced at the same time as Common Core, it looks like Greek to us and many of our teachers.

        I asked my daughter today about “doubles” and doubling. I asked her what her teacher has told her about this topic that we did on the worksheets. She thought for a minute and then said, I know what doubling is! It’s like, when you have a chicken nugget, and then you double it, you have two! I said, right, that is the double of one. Now what’s the double of 7? She said, or, that’s easy, 8! I said no, that’s just 8 plus one. Then she said 9? I said no, 14. She said, really??? Well I know what double 10 is. I said, ok, what’s that? she replied 28! I said no, its not 28. . . she said 17? No. 18? No. 19? No. 20? Yes I said, that’s enough. What did you teacher say about those worksheets? Did she ever go over them with you (it was several week ago now) She said no, she never goes over the worksheets, she just gives them out.

        I think my daughter’s teacher is a good teacher, but this is a problem. You can’t expect any of us parents to understand what is going on when this is the way this information is being presented to us. Part of the problem is the abruptly shortchanged rollout, chopping a year off the end of the process which made many districts like mine scrambling to find a curriculum. Perhaps they should have done so sooner, but I don’t blame my teachers or parents for that, I blame the state and local superintendents. I blame the undemocratic process that created this situation. I blame the shady way our state adopted these standards without any true discussion or introduction. John White divided our districts into “regions” under which he assigned network leaders to start training the trainers for different grade levels. Some regions got full training, some got partial training, some got very little or none. This process was abruptly halted and the timeline ramped up at the same time. This was done to create chaos and instead of healing the already hurt feelings of educators who were completely excluded from the process, he pissed them off even more and abandoned them. This roll-out was designed to fail. We parents are left on the outside peering in, not understanding what the hell is going on, and our only connection is these terribly worded worksheets that are never explained to our children, parents or even many teachers.

        We are pissed, and we do blame Common Core and we are right to do so. The whole process has been a cluster, and exercise in political wrangling. John White intended to use Common Core to screw our school systems up to hurt our children intentionally so he could make the case for further privatization. What he did not expect was how pissed off parents would get when this hit so many of us across the state at the same time. You may claim this math is not “Common Core” but it is to us, and we are right to be angry at how this simultaneous rollout is playing out. They introduced all these “new to us” theories to every parent and every child in every grade level without any intro or foundation. To me, that sucks. Had this been done correctly, introducing this in the lower grades first and with properly prepared teachers perhaps this would have left us all as amazed with this math and method as you are, but what was actually done is atrocious. No matter how theoretically sound the method is, I have to doubt the effectiveness of any new method that is introduced without any explanation or preparation of the folks flagged to teach it.

        1. Quicky: My name is Michael, Paul being my middle name, which I use professionally in writing because there is another person in my field (mathematics education) whose name is E. Paul Goldenberg and I hope folks will confuse us and I’ll get a few of his paychecks. (Okay that last independent clause is a lie. It’s just an unfortunate coincidence I found out about too late).

          Second, I don’t mind well-founded and well-placed anger. I have little tolerance, however, for utter baloney. It bothers me to know end when I share an article on Facebook that I realize was b.s. and that I should have checked on Snopes.com before swallowing. It doesn’t happen often, because I dislike the irresponsible spreading of easily-debunked drek.

          That said, I am not defending bad curricular materials, when they are bad. Or the Common Core Math Practice or Content standards when things they actually say are wrong, bad, destructive, etc.

          But published materials aren’t the same as what is in the Standards documents, for the most part.

          I have been critiquing the overall initiative as well as specific idiocy in the Standards themselves for months and months (longer in the case of the overall policy, the testing, the Race to the Top, etc.). And so I know quite well that there is no dearth of things affiliated with this ill-conceived approach to education to rip to shreds, repeatedly.

          Thus, when I see someone willfully or ignorantly spread not merely an unsubstantiated rumor, but something that makes zero sense and could easily be shown as such (e.g., the claim about doubles plus one to which I responded at length today), I generally wish to correct the erroneous claims (and hope that whether the person who posts them gets it or not, that others will not swallow mis- or disinformation uncritically. Seems like a good thing to do, given my areas of expertise and interest in educational politics.

          But what’s particularly unsettling here is that as I have repeatedly pointed out, the ideas under attack are not, as is often claimed, new or peculiar to CCSSI. Whether they are good or bad, the issue is NOT in these instances the Common Core or the emotions people are bringing to the table, including their negative feelings about President Obama (particularly feelings that have nothing to do with his generally horrific educational policies). But my knowing that and repeating it is not an adequate safety net for truth, unfortunately. And that’s at times more than a bit frustrating.

          And it’s even more frustrating because I hate the educational and political policies at work here, so my initial impulse was to be glad when I saw folks on the Right starting to express opposition to the Common Core. But it’s become glaringly obvious to me that in many instances, their late-arriving opposition is founded far more in the sense that they’ve found another wedge issue, another opportunity to undermine all of Obama’s policies, appointments, etc. And that’s why they are willing to throw out anything negative they can think of or come across, regardless of truth, plausibility, or relevance, in regard to the Common Core. Even when what they are trashing happens to be ideas that I’ve personally fought for over the past 20+ years, back when the vast majority of Americans really didn’t spend a lot of time discussing K-12 mathematics curricular materials, pedagogy, etc.

          That is why we keep hearing about “these NEW Common Core math ideas” even though the ideas are NOT new, and weren’t in nearly all cases new when they were appearing in the late 1980s/early 1990s wave of curricular materials related to the 1989-94 NCTM Standards volumes. Indeed, according to Robert B. Davis, late of Rutgers University, many of these ideas weren’t new when he and other mathematicians and mathematics educators were playing with them in the late 1950s through the early 1970s in various projects affiliated with “the” New Math (and as he pointed out, there never was a single “New Math.” Nor was there a single “New-New Math” in the last 20 years or so, and neither is there a “Common Core Math.” Just some standards that have been rewritten, shuffled around, for good or ill, by another bizarre conglomeration of mathematicians and mathematics educators who had and continue to have very conflicting ideas about what to put into a single major document on K-12 math content, teaching, and learning. In other words, it’s a hash, and had to be given the committees involved. And they are still fighting with each other and will be indefinitely.

          The Math Wars are alive and sick, have been for a long time, will be for the foreseeable future. And angry parents and teachers who choose to glom onto a deeply flawed analysis of effective math teaching that has been promoted by very educationally conservative (and mostly politically conservative) elitists since the early 1990s or so is only going to make things worse. I’ve written blog pieces on @the Chalk Face and elsewhere to this effect: the winning of the battle against the Common Core will not actually make things better in and of itself. And it may, in the long run, simply bring about many of the same disastrous results for kids and teachers. But the most vocal, narrow-minded parents will be happy, because math materials and teaching methods will look close enough to the unenlightened approaches and books that many of them actually suffered through themselves in K-12 or beyond. But like old frat and sorority folks who were hazed and hated it, they won’t be happy unless what was bad enough for them is made bad enough for their own children.

          Sorry, but while I “get” your personal rage and don’t envy your situation, particularly given the state in which you teach, there’s a lot more going on here than the War Against the Core. I’m all for ending the testing and starting over, but not throwing out a lot of babies with the dirty bathwater that through no fault of theirs happens to have chosen to include them.

        2. You wrote in part, “I asked my daughter today about “doubles” and doubling. I asked her what her teacher has told her about this topic that we did on the worksheets. She thought for a minute and then said, I know what doubling is! It’s like, when you have a chicken nugget, and then you double it, you have two! I said, right, that is the double of one. Now what’s the double of 7? She said, or, that’s easy, 8! I said no, that’s just 8 plus one. Then she said 9? I said no, 14. She said, really??? Well I know what double 10 is. I said, ok, what’s that? she replied 28! I said no, its not 28. . . she said 17? No. 18? No. 19? No. 20? Yes I said, that’s enough. What did you teacher say about those worksheets? Did she ever go over them with you (it was several week ago now) She said no, she never goes over the worksheets, she just gives them out.

          I think my daughter’s teacher is a good teacher, but this is a problem. ”

          What grade is your daughter in and how old is she? Just curious.

          That said, I was with you until the last sentence. How is never going over work with kids that has been assigned an example of good teaching practice? If this were mere busywork, a little fun time filling word-finder or something like that, fine. But clearly it isn’t. There is important mathematics for primary grade kids here. If the teacher doesn’t know what she’s doing, there may be lots of people to blame. But the teacher is clearly one of them.

          How can someone collect a paycheck for “not teaching” mathematics? For not feeling compelled professionally to find out from the many free online sources what is going on in a lesson before teaching it?

          Should there be a lot more time taken to train or professionally develop cadres of new and veteran competent teachers of mathematics for K-2 and 3-5? Yes, of course. I’ve written about this many times. For that matter, H. H. Wu of UC-Berkeley’s mathematics department, one of the committee members for CCSS Math (not an author, but on another, related committee) and a vocal supporter of the Common Core Math Standards (Wu is the one guy supporting them you HAVE to read, even if he’s wrong about specific things and probably hasn’t the foggiest understanding of the politics of the overall CCSS Initiative, nor would he likely care to know) has had pieces in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere (most available for download free on his university home page specifically addressing the absolutely crucial nature of teacher education/re-education in K-12 mathematics. And in this regard, he’s completely correct. And I have been writing about why the failure to have provided such training, the error of trying to roll out 13 years’ worth of standards in one year instead of in a minimum of, well, thirteen, is in itself sufficient to doom the whole damned thing to abject failure, regardless of how good the ideas may be, and even if the materials various publishers are offering were basically flawless and well-explained at every turn. Because, as I’ve said, parents and teachers will still hate most of it unless every reasonable effort has been made to put them into the picture.

          But at the risk of not being in complete solidarity with your viewpoint, even if I love your blog and have great sympathy and support for the overall work you’re doing to fight corporate/political education deform in probably the most ethically corrupt state in the nation (if Florida doesn’t have that title sewn up after the 2000 election), I must point out that teachers and administrators have been a bit remiss in lots of places and instances about taking seriously the need to grapple with some key mathematical teaching ideas that are now being attacked regardless of the merit of those ideas or the attacks upon them. And it’s irresponsible because as I keep trying to point out, these ideas didn’t just get created since the Common Core was announced and developed. They’ve been around far longer. They were in many cases endorsed by NCTM, the biggest organization of mathematics teachers in the country (and possibly on the planet), NCSM (the equivalent organization for local and state supervisors of mathematics), and to hear people claim that these are hot off the David Coleman drawing board, so to speak, is just a little big strange, at least in the case of those teachers who’ve been teaching K-12 math for a decade or more.

          Lots of teachers buried their heads regarding the NCTM standards and tons of great materials they published to try to help teachers, parents, administrators, and kids better understand what was afoot. Sometimes the head-burying was quite intentional. I’ve worked with more than a few teachers who were given specific materials and expected by their district (and the county mathematics consultants) to use them, and proceeded to do everything possible to thwart that mandate. Now, obviously, if I thought that these were bad materials, bad ideas, bad pedagogy, etc., I could readily understand the desire to do what works. The problem is that 1) I don’t believe that is the case, and even bad books often have very useful content that is NOT flawed or can easily be used as a platform upon which to create a dynamic and powerful lesson; and 2) because of my professional relationship with these teachers, schools, the county, and the students in the math classes, I saw what was being done instead. And while I’m sure that the teachers thought it was exactly what they should be doing, particularly since it was what they’d been doing comfortably for years and even many decades, in my best professional judgment, it was NOT effective mathematics teaching, and it was clear that many, many students were being left in the dust, just as was the case with many of my fellow students in my nice, middle class northern NJ suburban district in 1955-68. Sure, lots of college-bound kids, but I can recount both my own negative experiences with math starting in middle school, and many conversations with classmates back then, and far more recently on Facebook or on the phone, who loathed math as much or more than I used to, who did as little math in college as they could get away with, and had no real choice but to eschew pursuits that required anything past the basics of algebra 1 and maybe elementary statistics.

          The system, in this regard, really IS broken. And we are trapped in an endless cycle of guaranteeing that it will never improve. This isn’t an attack on teachers, a la the Michelle Rhees and her ilk, but rather a very sad reflection on 20+ years of observing what’s going on, reading about the previous 80 years or so, and coming to the unavoidable conclusion that we aren’t prepared to make it better. Not teachers. Not parents. Not kids once they’ve gotten “schooled” and learned a lot of very wrong ideas about what they should be doing in class (or rather not doing) and about what it means to do mathematics.

          That’s one reason why I would ALMOST let the powers behind the Common Core off the hook about not succeeding in creating those cadres of well-trained math teachers. But I can’t, because they never even tried and have no intention of ever doing so. Costs too much money. And wouldn’t fit with the overall educational deform/GERM game plan, which is to bring the public schools to their knees for fun and profit.

          I’ve been in the classroom: not just as a coach, supervisor, p.d. person, etc., but as a teacher, as recently as last spring. It’s not an easy task. Elementary teachers have it even worse than secondary teachers for reasons that I’m sure are obvious to anyone who has ever attempted the job (and a few of us who have not). I don’t bash “teachers” in any global sense. But I do criticize instances of bad teaching, unprofessional behavior (my own included), and people who are entrenched against reasonable reflection upon their practice. No one who works with people closely, let alone with children, can afford to be so blind and arrogant.

          If I were king of the universe, I would do everything possible to make professional education in this country a lot more like it seems to be in Finland, to name one place that seems far saner than here. But I’m not. So while I support every fair and reasonable complaint teachers (and parents) bring to the conversation, I don’t blindly accept every single gripe as fair and reasonable. So I know that makes me a bad guy – bad to many teachers, bad to many parents, even bad to some kids when I push them to have to think harder than they find comfortable and far harder than they’ve had to do in math classes for a very long time. And much as it grieves me not to be universally beloved, I can live with it because I am confident about my motives. I’m not getting rich doing what I do. Mostly, I’m struggling to find work during part of most years. That’s a long story, but the point is that there is no billionaire backing me, no publishing company, no think tank, no foundation. So I am saying what I say because I have seen great mathematics teaching and I know for a fact that those who teach math in this country in K-12 can do a lot better.

          I favor, by the way, not having all elementary teachers teach math. Why SHOULD they have to? It’s hard enough to focus on ONE major curricular area, let alone four. Math & Science together maybe for anyone so inclined. Literacy alone is a huge responsibility in K-8. Social studies + one other discipline? Maybe, again for those motivated and competent to do it. So I do give some slack to K-5 teachers for their very real plight. Much less so to 6-8 math teachers, and none to 9-12 mathematics teachers.

          Damn, every time I want to wrap this up, I feel like there’s more to say to try to get it across. But I know that I won’t reach many people with this (even if I post it everywhere). Just really thinking aloud through my keyboard for the most part. As usual.

          1. Michael
            I referred to you as “paul” because that is the first name you used to comment so other people could follow the conversation.

            My daughter is in first grade. My son is in pre-k. They both get homework every day except Friday. I have no problem with doing their homework with them if it’s intelligible and meaningful It allows me to see what they are doing, fr them to ask me questions and for me to see if they are progressing well or need me to talk to their teacher.

            My children are in public Montissori programs where pk3, pk and k ar ein one class and 1-3 are in my daughters class. Her teacher is responsible for teaching 3 grade levels. The parish selected the curriculum they would have to use in August. School began in August and the curriculum they chose was not completed for the full year for them to review by the time they selected it.

            My child’s teacher explained the district has instructed them to send these worksheets home with the children, and they have received no or very little training in these methods/techniques.

            Our State department had granted an extra year for districts to prepare, knew some were much more prepared then others and that some were not prepared and chopped a year off the end of the rollout at the last minute intentionally to create this chaos. They intended to test teachers and students right away. they provided extra training and support for their allies and they hoped to capitalize on the disarray by creating this turmoil and more opportunities for charters by making parents dissastisfied with their public schools and showing how the charters faired comparatively with teachers extra prepared for these new tests. It has backfired because it created too much chaos and John White has been left holding the bag.

            I do not blame teachers, who were not given enough time and who have to learn the curriculum for 3 grade levels for all subjects in the middle of the year. I hope you do not either.

            I blame the leaders who allowed this to happen, who wanted this to happen. I am explaining how this rollout, tied to Common Core, looks to us. It is a disaster and is really harming kids of all grade levels. These worksheets and techniques may not be Common Core, per se, but this roll out is. Perhaps we are backwards in our teaching methods compared to what you are familiar with, that does not mean we force people to teach stuff they are not familiar with, were not given adequate preparation for, and say tough luck to all the kids, parents, and teachers left in the wake of this disaster. Some parents obviously had better prepared districts, rather than be pissed at us, they should be pissed at the Superintendent that yanked the training for most of the state and roll this out early to create a crisis. . . intentionally and with forethought and malice. If Common Core is good and it is defeated, it is your fault for not holding all of our leaders accountable. We live in this state together and John White is our state leader. You have only him to blame over this roll out. He had total control of the timeline, the way this was secretly rammed through BESE, the level of training he chose to give, the training he chose to withhold, the failure to take parents concerns seriously and his actions to stifle public input. All of that was him, no one else. We parents of students in parishes with shitty rollouts can not allow this to continue. Our children are not learning this material and are getting stressed out and suffering.

          2. I enjoyed reading this. First I do teach first grade. I understand the doubles piece, but I am having a hard time with the missing addend piece. I find that my children understand that 7+2=9, but when I turn the equation around to 9=2+7, I lose a lot of students. Before they understand that the equation can be read both directions we throw at the 9=2+x. I get the answer of 11 on almost 50% of problem samples. I have gone back and had them circle the = sign! it helps some. We have built the problems multiple times with red and yellow chips, unification cubes, and quison rods. We have drawn pictures and number lines. I have shown how to frame it as a subtraction problem. I am stuck. What do I do? Many of my fellow teachers want to say it is developmental. I am not sure.

            1. @Firstgrademonkey: You raise questions that are very much worth investigating further. And for all I know, there is information in the research literature on it. But if so, I haven’t read it or bumped into it.

              That said, here’s my take: If you simply give them 7 + 2 = 9, students need to learn what this is saying and means. It may be very important to get them to recognize or at least start to consider what “=” really means. I do know that many students, including some taking mathematics in college/university, learn to think of “=” as meaning, “whatever comes to the right of this symbol is the answer to the problem.” Whereas, what we need them to think is, “Whatever are on the left and right of “=” are equal.” Big, important difference.

              If they don’t learn it that way (and few do), they will definitely be troubled by reversing the order such that you have the unknown to the right, as in 9 = x + 2 and 9 = 2 + x (themselves equivalent because of the commutativity of addition).

              Now, I would think that 7 + 2 = ? is very straightforward for 6 year olds if they know their addition facts and/or have some strategy to find this sum. Most do, though of course, those strategies may vary widely in terms of efficiency.

              But because they really don’t see what “=” means, things are already problematic. And then, there is how they “read,” say, 9 = 2 + x. Most will have heard or already know, “Nine equals two + ecks.” And unfortunately, that means nothing to many of them.

              How I would read that to them is, “Nine is how many more than 2?” Similarly, for subtraction, I would read “7 = 9 – x” as “Seven is how many fewer than 9?” I think “how many more/less” convey more meaning than “plus” and “minus” when you aren’t completely comfortable with either the point of those words or the symbols that we call by those words.

              But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how *I* read the words as much as how THEY read them. The version I suspect they hear in class and then in their heads really doesn’t mean anything to most of them. What’s this “ecks” business? How can a letter have anything to do with numbers?

              Even if you substitute triangles, squares, circles, etc. for the letter, it’s still pretty abstract . . . UNLESS they see those things always standing for “what number”; then, there’s some hope, IF they can wrap the write other words around that simply two-word phrase, in the right order.

              Again, I haven’t the foggiest if getting them to think that way would help, or if it’s more, as you colleagues suggest, “just developmental.” I’m always a LITTLE skeptical of the notion that the latter is written in stone, however, at least until I’ve exhausted my options for trying to reach students in alternative ways to what’s been tried. And maybe because I’m a math teacher only after having been an English teacher that I think the way we learn to interpret the expressions in elementary mathematics (and not-so-elementary mathematics, too) into phrases again has something to do with how we are able to think about that mathematics. Of course, once something like addition become second nature, the “linguistic” part doing math with a lot of it may become so routinized as not to matter much. But for me thinking about young children, I think the questions here are open to further thought and investigation.

  30. On the bottom section where you solve the problem and then write the double that helped you find it…What they want is: 2 + 3= 5; below that: 2 + 2 = 4 because apparently under this new “rigorous” math, the students are able to memorize 2 plus 2 is 4 but then will have to use it to find everything else because they are incapable of memorizing 2 plus 3 is 5. I had my son just do the first problems and then I had to tell him what they wanted because he said, rightly so, “I didn’t use that to find the answer.” Exactly…they are asking the kids to lie. That is not how they figured it out. But they have had to learn how to beat the system. That is all it is doing. I have to teach my students the “right” way to do problems and then show them what they will be asked on the test. Insanity.

    1. I am sorry Brandi, but doubles and doubles +1 is not part of the “new rigorous” math. As I replied before, I have taught first grade for 23 years and have ALWAYS used these mental strategies. I read what Michael Paul Goldberg said regarding the instruction of math and to be honest…I agree with the majority of what he said. I understand why parents are frustrated. They don’t understand what is going on. I think there needs to be more orientations to acquaint parents with what their children are being taught. Does that mean that I agree with all the standards? No, but I didn’t agree with some of the old ones either!

      I can tell you I grew up “old school” where you were supposed to just memorize your facts and never understood the “why”. I hated math and was confused by it, because I wanted to know why! I now love teaching math to my little ones. I get excited when they “get it” and can expand on the skill!

      1. Thanks, @m soileau. Glad I made sense to you.

        Seems to be problematic for folks to get my name right. Just “Michael” or mpg will do. 😉

  31. I agree with you completely. These materials are inane and abusive, not to mention rife with errors that would drive any conscientious student (and parent) over the bend. The CC$$’s idea of rigor is really cognitive gymnastics that a few children may master at a terrible cost, but which will leave most children feeling humiliated and stupid. This is inexcusable, and it needs to be taken up by the mainstream media and cause the uproar that it deserves. As to the need for college level readiness to prepare students for all of those wonderful jobs that require a college education (as if the purpose of education is only career training and not to nurture critically thinking members of an interdependent society) see this post by Mercedes Schneider regarding LA: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/the-disconnect-between-the-college-push-and-projected-louisiana-career-reality/

  32. Wow…all because YOU didn’t understand first grade math! Thank goodness teaching methods have changed so we don’t end up with more people your age who can’t think through the math. In the past we have primarily created groups of people who simply plug numbers into an algorithm and can’t even determine if the answer even makes sense. Is that what you want to perpetuate?
    And I agree with m soileau, doubles and doubles+1 strategies are not NEW, and not unique to the common core. If you think those strategies are difficult, wait till your kid is introduced to the “Make Ten” or “Bridge to Ten” strategy. Think of the fun you’ll have then!

    1. You are an ignorant troublemaker and late to the party to boot.  Go spread your bizarre brand of self-superiority somewhere else.  I thank you in advance for not dropping by again. Don’t let the blog hit you on your butt on the way out. 🙂

      Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

    2. @Pi Lady: you can see by crazycrawfish’s reply that your tone was off-putting to at least one reader (the blogger) and I would expect it is to others. But if folks on all sides of these issues could stand back for a second, I think most people responding here are serious and reasonable (with some exceptions, of course). And what I see based on 20+ years of Math Wars debates is this: an on-going problem in the US with what it means to know and do mathematics, and how knowing and doing mathematics should inform teaching and learning mathematics in K-12. Most Americans see basic math as indistinguishable from calculation/computation. From that perspective, the idea is to get kids to be quick, accurate number crunchers. And maybe at some point in our history, that made sense, but it doesn’t any more and hasn’t for a very long time. Mathematics is a way of thinking about the world that involves numbers, true, but much more than numbers. And it isn’t strictly a matter of “Here’s some bunch of numbers, letters, and symbols on the left, an equals sign, and your job is to write the correct number to the right of that equals sign.”

      People have written many books and articles on the above. I can’t possibly squeeze the excellent ideas that have been offered in them into a reasonable post here. But if you read the previous paragraph and thought to yourself: “Hey, that’s exactly what math is!” then I suggest you start with an article you can google and download free (it was later expanded into an even better book of the same name: A MATHEMATICIAN’S LAMENT by Paul Lockhart. Read the article. You might just start seeing a different and useful perspective on math and math education.

      Otherwise, there will likely be mostly a lot of yelling past each other. I have been “accused” of being in agreement with crazycrawfish (by crazycrawfish) and I don’t disagree. But then, doesn’t that go both ways? And if so, where is the sense that most of us are on the same side, fighting for better teaching, better learning, and so forth? I’m not sure I feel that flowing toward the many things I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain here (and other places, of course).

      I understand the frustration Pi Lady expressed, and I understand why parents and teachers are firing shots that seem to be in opposition to that sort of viewpoint. Maybe that’s the sick genius of the folks behind the Common Core: they have a lot of us yelling at cross-purposes instead of listening more carefully for the many points of agreement.

      1. Thats a much more mature response than mine, but I’m tired of the arrogant remarks from folks when I explained I was trying to point out the weaknesses of Common Core as seen by parents. We do not understand these are considered acceptable techniques. Our own teachers have not been trained in them and are not conveying this to parents. The teachers were not properly prepared to deliver this material, the timeline was rushed by LDOE knowing this.  The actual materials used are filled with errors, look amateurish, and contain no reference materials for new terms.  Common Core proponents have only themselves to blame for these terrible situations, distrust and lack of communication.  Folks like Pi lady only make this situation worse by antagonizing parents struggling with this material.  When people come to me asking for help with Excel which Ive used for almost 20 years I don’t mock them and tell them to stop being lazy and look things up on the internet. I don’t harangue them for being stupid for not knowing all the tricks and tips Ive learned over 2 decades.

  33. Others have said it better and at length: standards are not curriculum. As you demonstrated quite amply, the homework had nothing to do with Common Core standards for that grade level. So this is really a lengthy critique of bad curriculum (and perhaps bad instruction) masquerading as a critique of bad standards.

    1. Flaming is sometimes just an acknowledgement that someone is posting things that can’t be addressed rationally. Posts about the Common Core being a Commie plot are simply beyond the pale of reasonableness. But for future reference, I’ll just ignore the commenter.

  34. I can tell this is first grade. I teach 1st, and I remember getting lots of questions about the doubles matching. It’s not clear, next year I will just cross that one out!

  35. I have been teaching first grade for the last 5 years and kindergarten for the 4 before that. I skimmed your post and here are my thoughts. I taught doubles and doubles +1 before common core. That was a strategy used in the Scott Foresman series I used year my first 3 years teaching first grade. Some kids need that strategy because they can memorize doubles so well. I don’t know what the cards were all about on the homework, but the rest seem straight forward to me. Your child’s teacher probably should have included some examples. 2+3=5 the double +1 that helped solve it is 2+2=4 because 2+2+1=5. The coloring was a mess and hopefully the teacher will change the directions for the following year. As for Angieh’s daughter’s homework she was wrong she answered using doubles – 1 instead of doubles +1. 8+8+1=17 so 8+8=16 is the answer. Doubles to 20 is just what they need to know not the answer to 5+5. Students are to learn doubles from 1+1=2 up to 10+10=20 in first grade. 5+5 just falls into that category. As for number bonds, last year was the first time I taught them. They are just another way of teaching fact families which I have taught in the past using a triangle with the 3 numbers in it so a number bond is basically the same thing. I was teaching fact families before common core.

    1. @amarie: Thanks for that comment. These ideas are considerably older than 9 years, but your experience certainly demonstrates that they predate the Common Core. And in fact, as I’ve tried to get people to realize, there’s virtually nothing in the Common Core Math Content Standards that is “new” mathematically or new to K-12 math instruction. What’s new is how topics have been shoved around, sometimes with disregard for research on cognitive development of kids (and that IS troubling).

      Had teachers (and parents) who were upset by the doubles + 1 idea consulted a respected and sound K-8 math methods text (I highly recommend anything and everything by the late John van de Walle), perhaps their minds might have been put at ease. More importantly, perhaps they could have taught these ideas better/helped their children better, rather than go into “The Sky Is Falling and it’s the Islamist Commies who are bringing it down on our heads” mode. Just a thought.

  36. My attempt at completing your blog.
    I’ve been reading about common core to try and understand what all the concern is, especially in math, since my son is learning common core and is very good at math. Better, in fact, than I was at his age. Plus it’s one of his favorite subjects. I had hoped that your blog would provide some intelligent insight into why so many parents are frustrated with these new standards. I have to admit, however, that I was forced to give up on that hope and stop paying any serious attention to your rant when you admitted that you couldn’t figure out that “numbering from lessor to greater meant numbering from 1 to 5” when 3 of the 5 numbers were ALREADY PROVIDED AS CONTEXT CLUES. Seriously? It’s the most basic of patterns and you couldn’t understand it and thought it illogical? After this I most likely missed your point altogether as I stopped taking you seriously and just skipped around looking for examples of the homework you couldn’t decipher. In another example you lament “how do I color all remaining colors twice” when the worksheet never told you to color all remaining colors twice; the instruction was to color all remaining problems WITH +2 or 2+ a certain color and all remaining problems WITH +3 or 3+ another color. Maybe not the best way to word the instructions but still completely understandable if one is paying even the slightest bit of attention. And there are alleged teachers who completely agree with you in the comments. Amazing. I feel forced to point out that, as an adult who went through the old educational system, your clear lack of cognitive ability and problem solving skills, and most horrifyingly the “teachers” who agree with you, are the most telling examples of why we needed education reform in the first place.

    1. Thanks for commenting. As you correctly surmised I was writing this blog post especially for you to come along and insult me. It’s been up for about 6 months and I was beginning to get worried you wouldn’t stop by!

      I especially appreciate how you added words that weren’t there to make your point, and ignored all of my points. You are correct, Common Core is awesome. You have convinced me. If it were not for Common Core my daughter would never have learned ordering from least to greatest also means creating your own numbers and ordering them and that ordering is the same thing as numbering, or how to count to 5. Amazing I did not know that either, but you are a genius, so obviously that would have made perfect sense to you. Very useful skills a first grader would have been clueless about mastering pre-Common Core. While it’s true the instructions could have been written intelligently and without numerous mistakes and unnecessary jargon, where is the challenge in that? Obviously we want to explain math in as convoluted a way as possible, in ways that can easily be misinterpreted, to improve children’s deductive reasoning skills.

      And you are right, I was a product of a failed system. Now Common Core can educate me and all the other dumb parents out there. Thanks Common Core! I need extra confusing instructions and stress in my life after my relaxing days at work playing ping-pong and sipping martini’s.

      How many boxes do you color all the remaining of when you are doing your work? I assume this is a useful skill that businesses are clamoring for?

      I also now balance my checkbook by adding the doubles and numbers that equal 10s together which doesn’t save me time or make my calculations more accurate, it does take up the excess hours in the day and make it seem like I’m mentally insane and incompetent, which will serve me well when applying for disability. Without Common Core math I ran the risk of being a functional, rational human being.

      You’ve shown me with your writing and reasoning that there is a better way. Your way.

      The fact that your son is better at Math than you, not impressive based on what I’ve seen of your math and deductive reasoning skills. Actually I think my cat is better at math than you. . . although he probably kisses his own ass left often.

  37. Your problem appears to be with this math sheet. Common Core Standards, being standards, are only achievement markers students are to meet in certain grades. If you were to read them, you would see there is no mention of HOW the standard is to be taught. These worksheets are difficult for you to understand. That has nothing to do with the Common Core, only with your ability to understand the worksheet. As far as the “doubles concept”, double means to add two of the same thing. Plus 1 means to add one more. Pretty difficult, I know. LOL!

    1. George, I don’t have ESP, but I predict your approach isn’t going to win hearts and minds.

      The worksheets are objectively hard to understand as presented. I understand them because math education is my field. But if all you have to go on is the sheets, it’s hardly shocking that it’s unclear what’s going on.

      Your comments about these not being the Standards themselves is, of course, true. And that can be a bone of contention in discussing these issues. But I don’t think that’s really the confusion here, per se, or the main complaint.

      The fact is that things have already reached the point in this country where it’s nearly impossible to have a rational conversation about anything to do with the Common Core, curriculum (in the sense of standards), curriculum (in the sense of books, lesson plans, and teaching materials), policy, content, pedagogy, assessment, or anything else. I wonder some days why I even try.

    2. Just because something can be understood does not make it useful. Just because it is perplexing and poorly written, does not make it rigorous. Just because standards exist does not mean those are what is being taught. You are obviously a genius. It would be foolish of me to discuss anything with someone who already has all the answers and is as proud of themselves as you seem to be.



    1. Man I’m getting so tired of the nonexistent discussion these days: we are not allowed to disagree without being told how dumb, uninformed, misguided, or rebellious we are. That’s the same thing that was said about Obama care objectors… we just didn’t understand it, it’ll get better, you’ll see after the effective date, etc., now here so many of us left without insurance, while the sponsors pretend they didn’t know. I’m just saying, complaining about something is sometimes supported by purpose. Expecting everyone to conform to one thing or be labeled ignorant or dumb if they don’t, well that’s about a perfect example of socialism. Conformity is not the rule, if we keep trying to make it, our children won’t have a school for education to attend, it will essentially be a very long test prep institution- that is after all, what b it seems we are leaning towards.

      As a side note, my problem with the new crap being taught is all that “friendly number” crap. To tell my son he is wrong, to give a lessor grade to him for getting the solution right, than given to the child who got the wrong solution but used a friendly number, that’s complete and total crap. This is my problem. Why add more steps by making them add or subtract to find the friendly number then add the same amount to the other number, then rewrite the problem, to subtract the two “new” And “friendly” numbers, to get the same answer that he got from the beginning. It’s just dumb. Life doesn’t wait for friendly. And taking the time to do this is just going to make them, our kids, hate school more. Homeschoolers are increasing steadily and schools and teachers will suffer as will the students left in these schools. Not because a good change, but because there will be no funding added without students attending. Simple as that.

      1. I’m with you there. I think that sums up a lot of my objections. Overly complicated theoretical garbage is being pushed down from on high without any evidence this is a better way kids are being forced to “memorize”. Instead of just memorizing a few numbers kids are required to memorize ridiculous alternate methods of solving very simple problems in impractical ways that won’t be helpful in everyday life or in higher educational settings.

      2. Do you realize that there is a difference between teaching a model for understanding a mathematical concept and insisting that the model is THE way to carry out a particular sort of calculation for the rest of one’s life? I know that some teachers over the last 20 years or so have taken some good ideas that were intended to help kids make sense of math and turn one or more related models into rigid doctrine.

        Similarly, some administrators and other “higher-ups” have taken the view that if something is touched upon in ANY set of Common Core-related materials, that it is mandatory to teach things exactly that way (even when the teacher or the principal or the politician in question doesn’t really get the point of the model or understand the concept).

        Of course, that’s idiotic. But no MORE so than any mindless approach to mathematics. While of course some things in math are conventional (e.g., notation, terminology, things like order of operation, the fact that the Cartesian coordinate plane is ordered as it is with a counterclockwise orientation, etc.), the vast majority of mathematics makes sense and is about sense-making. Teaching it like it was all about the dates of the War of the Roses or memorizing the cranial nerves is, in my view, utterly ridiculous (but all too common for decade upon decade).

        Finally, just as you’re tired of being put down for you views, a lot of us are tired of being mocked for holding views that are counter to the conventional wisdom about mathematics education. Some of us are dedicated professionals with decades of study and experience teaching school and other flavors of mathematics. We’re not crazy. We’re not evil. We’re not part of some Islamic or Communist or socialist or Satanic conspiracy. We’re not trying to “dumb down” anything or anyone. And there have been lots of comments here and elsewhere accusing us of just those sorts of things.

        So politeness and respect cut both ways. I am not a medical doctor, but I will speak up when I have questions or doubts about a medical procedure. As I manage to do that respectfully, I’ve never had a blow up with any health care professional with whom I had grounds to trust and rely upon. And I do know the limits of my own knowledge in that regard. Strangely enough, however, it seems that an awfully large number of Americans who have never taught, are not mathematicians or mathematics educators, have no familiarity with the history of math education or the research literature, know vastly more about my profession and how I should be doing it than do I.

    2. That’s the whole problem – no one can understand it. You just made your opposition’s point quite well.

      1. Buck, I loved the film, but I’m less impressed with your understanding of mathematics education. The ability of the average American to understand even basic math is not much indication of whether a given program is good, bad, or indifferent. Few Americans, and that includes the vast majority of elementary school teachers, can explain the basic algorithm for long division. Based on your argument, that means long division should be thrown out of school. But the problem is that no one gets TAUGHT how & why that algorithm works. And I wasn’t taught c. 1955-60. I did eventually learn, but not in K-12, not in college, not in graduate school, but while observing a math for teachers class taught by a mathematician at U of Michigan-Flint in 2006. I’m not saying I wasn’t taught the steps/procedures for long division in elementary school: of course, I was, and I mastered them without difficulty. But understanding what I was doing and why it made sense? That came about 50 years later. And having learned it puts me in a small minority.

        The spirit of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice would change that. But that isn’t the first document to call for teaching elementary and higher math for understanding. Try the 1989 NCTM Standards on for size. And there were isolated teachers scattered throughout the country who were doing just that for a long time. Too few, too scattered, but still, the notion of teaching for understanding didn’t just come up recently. If we could stop fighting such approaches because “no one can understand them,” we might actually surpass the world in producing numerate citizens. But I won’t hold my breath. The inmates are still running the asylum.

  39. Hello. I have been a first grade teacher in LOUISIANA for 15 years now. I feel I am qualified and experienced in teaching math to first graders. The Common Core standards for first grade are not much different than the objectives and expectations we have ALWAYS taught. That said, I HAVE TAUGHT DOUBLES AND DOUBLES PLUS ONE AS MENTAL STRATEGIES TO INTERNALIZE MATH FACTS FOR 15 YEARS WAY BEFORE COMMON CORE. I find these strategies very effective. The reason you probably don’t recall learning them is because your teacher did her job. You have now internalized your math facts and don’t need this step-that was her goal. That is what it is, A STEP. Learning is a progression with age and development. Addition/subtraction are first taught with actual manipulatives. (things that are literally added and taken away-blocks/bears/etc.) It is then taken to a more abstract level by showing “addition/subtraction sentences,” which are written numbers to match what is done with actual objects. THEN, we take them to a completely abstract level by using mental strategies. (such as doubles and doubles plus one) These are all helps to get to memorization and the internalizing of number combinations. I like to tell my first graders, “We want to do math like grown-ups do.” It is a STEP process. I guess it works. My former students achieve success through school and, go figure, I have a pre-med student or two….
    I do NOT like Common Core either, but for a different reason. CURRENTLY the standards are GREAT, but believe me other things WILL be coming “down the pipe.” Allowing the Federal Government to mandate what is taught in every state is a VERY dangerous thing for a democracy. Think Hilter’s Germany for one. This is why our founding fathers held to the importance of STATE’S RIGHTS. Our children’s minds control the future.

  40. I understood everyone except the connect the top row number to the bottom row double +1… that’s just dumb. However, just because I, a 28 year old college graduate, figured it out, does not mean it has any place in a first graders homework. This testing improvement crap has to end. It’s all bullshit. It will ensure that our children grow up to be more moronic than the idiots all over the country now. Watching the videos of this type of class in progress makes me think of dog training obedience school. They will all be chanting their answers in monotone through their senior year if we don’t stop this crap. School should not be focused as much in the early years on the “you have to learn this this and this,” rather it should be about engaging children in a way that makes them want to learn. They don’t want our kids to succeed, they want them to memorize long enough to past their dumbass test. I’m seriously going to homeschool my 3rd grader if he comes home with this crap this year.

    Thanks for bringing this to so many people’s attention.

    1. Welcome. I like to think this is only happening in some places, but what disturbed me most is this was put forth as an exemplar of what a good CC lesson looks like! It’s one thing to fail at something, everyone fails at something sometime. It’s a part of how we learn. It’s when people redefine failure as success that we have trouble. They selected this as an example of what they want to achieve and what they want every classroom to look and feel like. That’s the scariest part to me.

      1. (This is to the author but I seem unable to post. Sorry.) You are describing problems from bad (read lazy or incompetent) teachers abdicating their responsibilities to bad (and incompetent) publishers and not Common Core weaknesses. The next step is of course bad (and incompetent) test designers who happen also to be publishers.

        Common Core is not curriculum or assessment – http://teaching-abc.blogspot.com/2014/06/common-core-is-not-curriculum.html

        Here is a good Common Core lesson plan – http://teaching-abc.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-sample-lesson-based-on-common-core.html

        Standards-based or outcome-based education is the way to go. A good teacher will love knowing the minimum (standard) requirement while having the freedom (and responsibility) to design his/her own program to meet and exceed it.

  41. Are all you people Fin crazy? Not a one of you know what the hell you are talking about. If parents can’t add their doubles then we have a bigger problem than we realize. As for the author of the original article; spend more time doing research than criticizing curriculum that you have no idea about. You have no degree in curriculum development (that is obvious) nor do you have a degree in education, your expertise is that you have a child. Just like you have a background in mathematics; that’s right, you had math in school and you learned just fine. Again, obviously not if you don’t know the benefits of doubles. What addition facts give most first graders difficulty? Oh that’s right, you don’t know your doubles so how in the hell would you know 6+7 or 8+9 or 5+7 Doubles helps student make sense of new problems by using their prior knowledge, something you have obviously lost! 6+7 can be seen as 6+6+1 more and is called a doubles plus one. Or you 6+7 could be seen as 7+7-1 and is called doubles minus one. But since your head is so far up your ass and you can only see how “you” were taught, not the benefits of teaching kids the “mathematics” vs. the short cut. When you get your teaching degree, earn your masters in curriculum design, spend time actually in the classroom teaching students, work as an administrator along side professional teachers, then you can write a blog regarding Engage NY math curriculum. And please do all the teachers in your area a favor, don’t have another child just because you can!

    1. Admittedly, the doubles argument tripped me out as well because I remember doubles in school. However, most parents problems have little to do with this. If you don’t see the problem with some of the common core teaching methods, then you’re a bigger idiot than you think. At no point should this be a concern after learning doubles:
      Use number bonds to help you skip count by adding to seven or adding to the ones…
      7 + 7 = 10 + 4 = ___

      They have already learned their doubles, which by the way is so important as you so rudely let us know… so why do they need over complicated wording to get 7-8 year olds to dislike math even more. Why do they need to continue to learn something they learned the “right way” seeing as doubles are the hail Mary of simple math.

      Why isn’t 32-12 equal to 20? If my child writes: 32
      And gets it wrong, you are Damn right I’m going to be mad. Because it is right. If you get something right in the real world and some uppity asshole comes along and says, “no, sorry mam, try again, because you didn’t do the problem solving in a friendly enough manner to solve 20,” what the hell would you say to him? I frankly, would tell the weirdo that we aren’t working at chuckie cheese and my 20 can’t get any friendlier, unless I stick it to a clowns face before shoving it up his uppity ass. But if course I’d get fired. Then again, no I wouldn’t because this wouldn’t happen in the real world. In career and college readiness, the only friendly numbers are the ones from a bar or the ones on your paycheck (sometimes). You see, it isn’t helpful. It isn’t rigorous. Its simply stupidity. Its simplicity undercover to over-complicate in a way to only appear more rigorous. Then we win on international testing and state scores. Then government feels happy. Who isn’t happy? The students because you have efficiently confused, burnt them out, and killed their love of learning in one swoop. Do you get it, Mrs. Smarty-pants? Is that friendly enough for ya? Fyi: teachers are refusing to teach the bullshit for a reason. They are going to quit – they are the good and great teachers and our children, our future, will be stuck with the shit teachers, who are only there for the paycheck.

      1. There actually are ways to have meaningful conversations about math, math teaching, and math learning that don’t entail the utter dismissal of the slightest disagreement with one’s own views and the attempted nuclear destruction of those who dissent. Unfortunately, what’s been going on in the commentary here is NOT an example of such a conversation. And from what I’ve observed over the months as this item continues to draw reactions, however sporadically, it appears highly unlikely that things will get better.

        For my part, I continue to see a great deal of nuance to the key issues surrounding the CCSS-Math Content and the Practice standards. But the quality of so many conversations popping up online is rarely better than it is here, as long as the audience is “open.” Closed groups occasionally do better, if the mix of participants and the culture of the group allows for it. But it’s difficult to find many people here and in similar places who can simultaneously “get” that: 1) the large picture surrounding and involving the Common Core Initiative – meaning how these standards came to be, who is financially and/or politically invested in their proliferation, the testing, and much else – is quite ugly, so that even without the Teabilly craziness that dominates conversations in some venues, it should be clear to sensible people that there are some rather problematic issues regarding Common Core; 2) at the same time, I find it frustrating and tragic that a lot of people, some of whom I would expect to know better or be capable of taking more subtle positions on math education, appear so entrenched in their opposition to the larger picture that they cannot or will not entertain the notion that anything with the Common Core label could possibly be worthwhile. And that really is a huge problem, because most of the arguments about math education connected to the CCSS-Math can be traced back to the anti-progressive educational views of the Math Wars as they emerged from groups like Mathematically Correct and HOLD in the 1990s. To my mind, those views haven’t gotten any more reasonable, so that hearing them echoed by people who seem otherwise progressive politically and self-identify as left of center is a disconcerting and troubling experience; 3) but that takes me to note that some of the curricular materials that are emerging from big-time publishers with the Common Core label leave much to be desired. And my sense from mathematics educators I know and trust in New York State is that Engage-NY is one of the most egregiously bad ‘products’ on the market; 4) however, that does NOT mean that just because something shows up in that program that it must automatically be bad.

        I have no difficult juggling these and other seemingly contradictory facts related to math education and the Common Core. And the more I analyze what’s been going on, the less surprised I am that there is no simple answer arising that will make it all better. But if we’re not going to simply revert to, say, the anti-progressive, reactive era of math education in the 1970s (the one that developed as an utter rejection of the New Math movement and what was often perceived as tied to progressive educational and social movements from the 1960s and ’70s), then we need to all be able to develop what the poet John Keats termed negative capability: “At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”

        Unfortunately, negative capability has always been a rare quality in humans, particularly so among Americans. We tend to like clear-cut answers, good guys and bad guys clearly delineated with the cliched white or black hats. We do NOT like uncertainties, nuance, doubt, etc., and so it is unsurprising that one of the most popular epithets hurled against progressive math education ideas by it’s staunch detractors is “fuzzy.” Of course, “fuzzy math” can simply mean “inaccurate math that is not well-grounded.” But then it can also refer to “fuzzy logic” and various disciplines that have emerged from that, including fuzzy engineering. And in that sense, I’d say we could use a whole lot more “fuzziness” and a lot less stubborn certainty. But after twenty-five years or so in mathematics education, what could I possibly know?

        1. Enjoyed your comments. Rationality is so rare on this issue, unfortunately. It is about as rare as rationality and a middle ground meeting place in our national political spectrum! And I agree that the vehement put-downs of other’s comments are particularly jarring. I agree with most of your points, BTW.

    2. @Sarah Berry: the mathematics educators, teachers, teacher educators, etc., with whom I am in touch and have worked in NYC despise Engage-NY and think it is deeply flawed, insulting to the intelligence of competent teachers (shades of Saxon Math and other “teacher-proof” curricula), shows deep ignorance of developmental psychology, and in general manages to cock up the good ideas inherent in the Standards for Mathematical Practice that it makes excellent fodder for both reasonable critiques of the whole Common Core Initiative (which to my way of thinking is a disaster that was guaranteed from its inception) as well as less sensible, more politically motivated attacks that center on conspiracy theories, Obama as the Anti-Christ, a Muslim, a socialist, ad nauseam, and trace the decline and fall of American education to, say, the Carnegie Foundation and shadowy deals with the Soviet Union (never mind that 20th century US public instruction is mostly modeled on Prussian military training that predates the existence of the Soviet Union by decades and doesn’t come from Russia at all). In other words, if you slap the Common Core label on a piece of crap, you can’t be TOO shocked when both knowledgeable, intelligent and less intelligent, less knowledgeable people conclude that the entire Common Core is a piece of crap, particularly if no one of weight (e.g., Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Barack Obama, etc.) has the courage and honesty to say, “Hey, folks: this is a piece of crap.”

      As for attacking parents who have doubts about this curriculum, you have no right to make the sort of demeaning, blanket attacks that you do at the end of the above comment. I wonder if you really are a teacher, as the teachers I’ve worked with over the last quarter century have more sense and more class than to ever think, let alone say, that sort of thing. Yes, there are people who have political agendas when it comes to math education that date back at least to the late 1980s or early 1990s, or who have political agendas in general that to my thinking are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-child, and anti-democracy, but they’re not all that hard to identify and sort out from the ordinary person who is simply confused by new math programs and would like respectful, clear, intelligent replies to reasonable questions. When I deal with the former, it quickly becomes obvious to me, and I take off the kid gloves. But you don’t seem interested at all in distinguishing between fair-minded and vindictive people in this fight. Your language makes me more than a bit skeptical that you are who or what you represent yourself to be.

  42. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. Toward the end of the 70’s the government started screwing around with the school systems and implementing standardized testing.Things have been going downhill ever since.

    Every kid I grew up with, except those with pretty significant special needs, graduated with the ability to read, do math up to at least the first year of algebra and had a working knowledge of the world and our history. We also got an hour for lunch and two half hour recesses, one halfway through the morning and another mid-afternoon. There were no problems with kids who couldn’t sit still or pay attention because there was adequate time for running around and playing. I remember two boys, only, who had difficulty sitting still sometimes and both of them were born alcohol affected (which no one realized at the time was the problem, but looking back it’s obvious as they both had alcoholic mothers).

    We did things like make a life-sized diorama of a rain forest, went on nature walks and ground our own corn to make homemade tortillas. We had art two times a week and music three times a week, along with PE every day. School was fun and engaging and we LEARNED. There were also very few overweight kids.

    So, here’s an idea – go backwards. Stop the standardized testing and allow school systems to test students in what they’ve learned. Let parents decide if there need to be changes in their schools. Go back to letting local school boards and individual Principals and teachers decide what to teach. Stop indoctrinating children instead of teaching them (check out the new CCSS History standards – they’re outright socialist indoctrination and they leave out huge sections of American history – as well as leaning heavily toward teaching all of the mistakes America has made, while ignoring most of the innovations and good acts). Teach reading and writing the way they did in the sixties – with simple, understandable methods. Stop teaching to the test and try teaching to the student, instead. Allow kids to learn at their own pace, instead of trying to force them into little boxes like good little automatons. Let kids get up, go outside, PLAY and enjoy school!

    We allowed our school systems to be destroyed when we allowed the government to start taking control of them – aka in 1979 when the Dept. of Education was formed. It’s time to take back local control of our schools and our children’s educations.

  43. Lori Toupal wrote in part: “Stop indoctrinating children instead of teaching them (check out the new CCSS History standards – they’re outright socialist indoctrination and they leave out huge sections of American history – as well as leaning heavily toward teaching all of the mistakes America has made, while ignoring most of the innovations and good acts).”

    Well, at least they’re OUTRIGHT socialist indoctrination. I would hate to have the government using subtle socialist indoctrination.

    So, Lori, let me ask you: do you believe that there wasn’t political indoctrination in US history curricula when you were in school? How about when I was in secondary school, from 1963 to 1968, during the Vietnam War, um, I mean, conflict (or was it a police action?), the Civil Rights movement, etc.? Do you think we were taught about any of the downside of the history of the United States, from the systematic genocide of the indigenous people to the ugly history of slavery (except to blame that all on southerners) to the exploitation of Chinese, Irish, and other immigrants to build the railroads, etc.? Because if any sort of critical view of American history was given, I must have missed it. When some of us wanted to talk about Vietnam, we were quickly silenced. But THAT, of course, wasn’t political or indoctrination. It’s only political indoctrination when the viewpoint isn’t that of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the NRA, and others well away from left of center, right? Or should I say, “Right”?

    1. Actually, Paul, yes – I did learn about those things. We learned about slavery, why it was used and what went into stopping it – including the carnage of the Civil War. We learned about the Indians, both before and after the Whites arrived. We talked about the Vietnam War. I don’t know why your teachers didn’t let you. I’m not sure where you grew up, but I grew up in Wyoming, where people are pretty forthright. Yes, we learned about things like the exploitation of the Chinese, right along with learning about the railroads and what they brought to and took away from the West. Perhaps where you came from they were afraid to teach the truth. I’m ALL for teaching the truth – both the negatives and the positives, the defeats and the triumphs, the good and the bad. The problem with the new CCSS History standards is that they lean heavily toward the negatives, the defeats and the bad, while leaving out most of the others. They also lean heavily toward extolling the virtues of socialistic ideology, while demonizing capitalism (you know, that system that made us the most financially successful – up until about the 1980’s – country in the world?). I’m actually an independent. I lean left to an extent in social issues, while leaning right in financial issues. Other issues I go either way, depending on the situation. I’m not a Republican or a Tea Party member, unlike you, obviously a liberal troll – I’ve run into so many of you little twerps the last few years online – who uses name calling and demonizing of any viewpoint that doesn’t lean far left in an effort to silence anyone who disagrees. Sorry, won’t work. If you really think socialism is so great please, by all means, move to Cuba and stop trying to destroy this country.

      1. Stay classy, Lori. The name calling, the denial of the reality of life in this country before you were born or were too young to know what was going on, are all so very typical. Please demonstrate EVIDENCE of “socialist indoctrination” in the actual Common Core history standards. You know: proof? And work on your epithet-hurling. It’s kind of predictable and hackneyed. Asking people with a different view of things to move to another country? Gosh, that was old when McCarthy (Joe, not Gene) was trying to red scare us into fascism.

        I’m going to go out on a limb here: I bet you couldn’t tell socialism from communism from anarcho-syndicalism without a scorecard. Those “isms” you like to throw around are, for 99.99% of Americans, meaningless shibboleths that get used by the ruling class to keep the focus of most people on non-existent “enemies” of America, while they steal every last nickel and dime they can from everyone else. Keep reading the pablum the Koch Brothers and their ilk ladle up for your mass consumption. Don’t dare think for yourself. And when all else fails, call people who disagree with you schoolyard names. Brilliant stuff, Lori. I’m deeply impressed with your intellectual range and depth, as are, I’m sure, loads of others.

        1. Typical Leftist Troll – start the name calling and demonization and then blame the other party for it.

          Here is a bit of info: http://www.usobserver.com/archive/march-13/youth-indoctrination-vivi.htm

          http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/03/14/exposing-common-core-kids-are-being-indoctrinated-with-extreme-leftist-ideology/ (try actually watching the videos before you scoff at them)









          I doubt you’ll actually read it, as you’ve already come to all of your conclusions. Unfortunately, I can’t find the link to the excellent article that actually broke down some of the indoctrination in the proposed History and Social Studies standards. The ones above are sufficient, however.

          As for my being in denial, as I said, I grew up in Wyoming. I don’t know where you grew up or why you only learned some things and not others. That, I’m sure, had more to do with your local school system than anything else.

          I do understand the difference between Socialism and Communism, which have very similar goals, but different methods of getting there. Anarcho-syndicalism is another animal, entirely.

          You’re so obviously brain-washed by the leftist/socialist ideology, I sincerely doubt you have the ability to go out and do real research, listen to both sides of an argument and come to a conclusion on your own. Therefore, I will discontinue attempting to teach you anything, as you have no intention of learning. Or, you can prove me wrong, read all of the articles above (including the links therein) and take the time to consider them carefully. Please, by all means, prove me wrong.

          1. Lori, I just read the first of your sources. This is the one from Vivi Wells. She claims that the Common Core was around in the mid 1990s. That’s not quite true, is it? But we’ll let that slide, since it is known that there was a push under Clinton for national testing (Diane Ravitch has written intriguingly about her experiences with a group that was supposed to help design those assessments before the right wing crushed the notion (yes, once in a while, conservatives get it right, even if the motivation for doing so has far more to do with partisan politics (you’ll note that there was no GOP opposition to Bush’s heinous NCLB, and even “liberals” like Ted Kennedy helped bring that turd into the world, to his eternal discredit), than with any understanding of public education (again, there are still plenty of Republicans backing CCSSI, most prominently Jeb Bush, Florida governor Rick Scott, and, until very recently, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal).

            But Ms. Wells really goes off the rails with this little gem: “In the 1800s, students were being taught Calculus [sic] by the 8th grade. Do you know what your 8th grader is learning?”

            Really, now. You’re sure you want to cite Vivi Wells as a reliable source, Lori? I won’t hesitate to wade through the rest of what you’ve cited, particularly if it’s all as accurate and reliable as that. I see you’ve got Breitbart and Glenn Beck in your list. I had wanted proof, not political propaganda. You know: an actual source, not some crazed Tea Party frothing at the mouth rant.

            I do appreciate that you linked to Peter Greene, but unfortunately, he doesn’t support your claim of socialist indoctrination anywhere in the Common Core. His dislike of many aspects of CCSSI, which I share, is not tantamount to groundless accusations of socialism. You seriously expect intelligent people to believe that Pearson, McGraw-Hill, the ETS, and all the right-wing foundations who have backed the Common Core are pushing socialism on little kiddies? Give us a break. Calculus was NEVER being taught before 8th grade in this country, and in fact it’s precisely his obsession with Calculus Mountain that motivates the increasingly-demented R. James Milgram to attack the math standards for not having calculus in them, even though he knows fully-well that the national standards for calculus in this country have been in place for decades (they’re called the AP calculus curriculum and assessments; they had that in the 1960s when I was in high school), and hence there was absolutely no reason to include calculus in the math standards. It’s already there, and of course only a relatively small percentage of American students take calculus in high school, nor do they need to do so in order to be, ahem, competitive. No shortage of kids at places like University of Michigan take and pass it as freshmen every semester. And some go right into the honors calculus (probably a higher percentage of students do that at places like Cal Tech, MIT, Harvard, etc.) which is at the level of advanced calculus/introductory analysis, a junior year math major course.

            I understand that facts aren’t your long suit. You are the one who introduced the idea of socialist indoctrination here, not I. You are also the one who immediately started name-calling, and your chutzpah in suggesting that I started all this and am falsely blaming you is laughable, just as are your “sources” (not including ones like Greene, who is a bright guy who probably would NOT appreciate your trying to misuse him to back your nut-job claims.

            Anyway, I WILL decidedly wade through the rest of your links. So far, they’ve been amusing, but not exactly what anyone not already in the Charlotte Iserbyt/Bev Eakman camp who sates him/herself nightly with Beck, Breitbart, Limbaugh, ad nauseam would count as evidence.

          1. What makes you think I support the corporate-led takeover of public education, or claim that their main boosters are honest about their agenda? Just because my knee won’t jerk at red-baiting does not make me pro Common Core, in need of you to enlighten me. Of course, if you want to claim that Bill Gates, the Walton Family, the Broads, and the rest of the billionaires behind the Common Core are communists, socialists, or anything of the kind, I would feel compelled to ask you for proof. That doesn’t seem to be something you like to provide, however.

            1. Saying that the Common Core standards hold leftist views is not “red baiting”, it’s simply stating a fact. It was you who brought politics into the conversation and attempted to label me because I pointed out that fact. I’m sorry if you find that fact hard to swallow. However, it makes it no less a fact.

              I’m glad you’re able to criticize the CCSS. However, the way you went about attempting to silence me, label me and claim my views were invalid is what brought out the lion in me. I’m sorry if I was rude. I’ve been called every name in the book by leftist trolls nearly every time I dare to say anything that doesn’t fit into their rigidly held ideals. It tends to make one a bit touchy.

              Oh, btw, I wrote a much longer reply that is “awaiting moderation”, I would assume because it contains several links to articles about how CCSS contains indoctrination. You’ll find I was testy. I apologize.

              1. Gee, over on Diane Ravitch’s blog, I’m being accused of being a paid corporate shill. Here, I’m a left-wing apologist for socialism. Either I’m schizoid or there are some really crazy folks whose first recourse is to call anyone who disagrees with or questions their claims the worst thing they can think of. Intriguing to see that I am both in the pay of corporate sponsors of the Common Core (not exactly socialist to normal people’s thinking) AND a pinko/Commie/Socialist who hates Amurica and is helping the terrorists win (along with that well-known radical Muslim, Barack Obama.

                Don’t the crazies ever get tired of slinging the same hash over and over? Apparently not.

                1. Stay classy Paul. Leave the name calling at home.

                  Re: “Don’t the crazies ever get tired of slinging the same hash over and over? “

            1. Excuse me Paul, you explicitly asked her to provide you proof of a particular point. When she has provided you what she considers to be said proof, you reply with a ‘your wasting your time’?

              Why did you ask her for proof in the first place if you had no intention of listening to her?

    2. How did the “Tea Party” enter your reply? Were they somehow magically drafting curriculum back in the 60’s? Shame on you.

      1. Are you addressing me or Lori, Nicholas? If me, I mentioned the Tea Party because they are the prime purveyors of the canard that CCSSI is a LEFT-wing propaganda effort. Last I checked, American mega-corporations aren’t well-known for being left-of-center or supporting either socialism or communism. Maybe someone here has counter-evidence on that. But then again, to the Tea Party, Bill Gates and Barack Obama are obvious communists. And of course, Eisenhower and the US Army brass were obvious communists or communist dupes to Joe McCarthy.

        I would have thought that by now, the average right wing lunatic would have tired of red-baiting and moved on to just hating Muslims, the French, and folks of color. Apparently, though, anti-communism is the gift that keeps on giving. Still, none of this helps the average American learn any mathematics, no matter how much yelling goes on here and elsewhere. I, socialist, communist, Muslim, and also corporate shill for the Common Core (see a thread on one of Diane Ravitch’s blog entries from today) that I am, somehow managed to be certified in secondary math with a masters in math education from the (commie) University of Michigan. No doubt this is the final nail in the world Communist conspiracy theory framework.

        1. The ISSUE on this page is ‘Common Core’. Please stop distracting from the issue with your political diatribes against those you dislike.

          1. Oh, gee, Nick. When the owner of the page complains, I’ll take it under consideration. But you’re very conveniently ignoring how this got started. And pretending that there isn’t a major political underpinning to the entire business is amazingly naive.

            As for “stay classy,” I asked for that first. And seriously, it’s plain as day that “Paul” is my middle name, yet people here continue to get it wrong. Unless your screens show rather different things than mine, I can’t account for how often that error happens on THIS particular blog. Is it that some folks here are just blind with rage? Or just blind.

            1. 1) You publish under the name Paul.

              “Quicky: My name is Michael, Paul being my middle name, which I use professionally in writing because there is another person in my field (mathematics education) whose name is E. Paul Goldenberg and I hope folks will confuse us and I’ll get a few of his paychecks.”

              If you use it professionally when writing to avoid confusion with another person by the same name, it seems very illogically for you to object to its use.

              1. No, Nick, I don’t publish as Paul. I don’t go by Paul. I use my full name, “Michael Paul Goldenberg,” for professional purposes and to avoid being confused with a “Michael Goldenberg” who is a screenwriter and director. It is true that there’s a guy named E. Paul Goldenberg in my field, but I only learned of that AFTER I started publishing. My comment to the blogger here was somewhat tongue in cheek.

                That said, no one calls me “Paul,” and no one has ever called me that before here. I find it rather bizarre that people continue to do so. I was told that I “first published here” as Paul, which was then and remains news to me. Perhaps there is something going on on this particular blog which only shows up to certain people. However, I’m not one of them. To the best of my knowledge, I sign in here with my full name. I see my full name right below this window as I’m writing. I see it to the left of EVERY post I’ve made here. So you tell me, Nick: how does that boil down to my being “Paul”? I understand that reading for accuracy isn’t your forte, but try rereading what you quoted and realize what my point was then and still remains.

                Fuck it, if you need to call me Paul and then justify it, despite AMPLE evidence that It’s “Michael,” that’s hardly the worst thing you offer up here. I’m much more concerned with your unmitigated lack of understanding of math teaching and learning.

            2. Please stop, Michael. I wasn’t getting notifications on comments or I would have stepped in before. It appears you are doing what you are accusing Lori of doing and she appologized. You are bringing up.comments made about you in by completely other people and attributing them to her. I think there is a case to be made that the content is slanted one way or the other. You mentioned as much in your own complaint about slavery, Vietnam, etc. You are on the same side but maybe for different reasons. No need to fight amongst ourselves here or take vengeance on strangers for offenses you’ve received at the hands of others. You know how that felt to you, so it perplexes and disappoimts me that you would impose that injustice on others. Obviously this is a topic many of us react too quite emotionally. I think it behooves us to give each other the benefits of the doubt here. I was not guiltless either but I reread my posts and realized I was disappointed in my own behavior and apologized. It is a confusing and frightening topic for many parents. This was imposed on us and our first instinct is often to blame an enemy we know. You don’t need to be each other’s enemies. I think you need to hit the reset button here.

              1. Okay, I give up: how many times do I need to state this? My first name, the name EVERYONE calls me, is Michael. I have never posted here as Paul. You insist that I have, but absent evidence to support your contention, I’m going with 64 years of experience as myself. It’s started to become. . . irritating.

                    1. For your sake, as well as those of the people of Louisiana, I hope your standards are higher than those of the twat who chose Engage-NY for the state math curriculum. The more my NYC-based colleagues tell me about it, the less I like it, though they are secondary people. They’ve also been disgusted by the assessments being used in NY State, but I don’t know where the LA state assessments are coming from at this point. Until the testing juggernaut is halted, it won’t matter all that much what the official curriculum is, or if, like Michigan, a state leaves the choice of program(s) to each district.

                      But that said, I still think much of the analysis of specific issues in math education that are being blamed on the Common Core have little if anything to do with what’s actually in the Content or Practice standards. If anything, I suppose it would be more the latter than the former that get the people whose opinions I find so objectionable should be focusing on (and occasionally they actually do). And I think this is just another phase of The Math Wars, with most of the folks I found impossible to have any sort of reasonable conversation with in 1994 still lining up on the wrong side of history. What’s really puzzling, though, is that a few of their favorite people have come out staunchly in favor of Common Core (though I suspect it has more to do with who is lining their pockets and the fact that the Core Knowledge folks have their fingers in the $$ pie when it comes to the literacy standards: they say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but in my experience, it’s MONEY that makes for those more often than not. So the Fordham Foundation folks, right up to and including their founder and chief propagandist, Scooter Libby, er, I mean “Checker” Finn, have abandoned their long-time alliance on math education with anti-progressive groups like Mathematically Correct and NYC-HOLD, in order to be able to support the Common Core, regardless of how utterly contradictory that is when it comes to mathematics. They couldn’t have their bread buttered on just one side, it seems, so they swallowed hard and hoped no one would notice that in endorsing the literacy Common Core, they were forced to endorse the whole package. Oh, the irony.

                      In the end, it won’t matter. And if things haven’t been completely torn between these erstwhile allies, probably when Obama and Duncan are out of office, and PARTICULARLY if some GOP numbnuts is elected to the White House in 2016, they can all go back to their love-fest, hating “fuzzy math” and promoting nothing but phonics in elementary school. And America’s children, or at least the vast majority of them, and particular those who are poor, will continue to take a royal screwing. But at least the ideology on the Right will make some sort of sense.

                      I hope by then that those who support the kind of mathematics education that I think all kids need and deserve to have will figure out how badly they’ve blown it once again by letting their best ideas be co-opted by the big publishing houses and other corporate and economic interests. NCTM should be publicly flayed for its blanket endorsement of the Common Core Math Standards, which they did in no small part because they allowed themselves to believe that if they had the power of the Federal government behind them, this time they would succeed where they failed in the 1990s and 2000s. One small problem: if you don’t educate teachers and parents, no amount of Federal power will get them to like anything but the most traditional approach to math teaching, even if those people had really negative experiences themselves as math learners. It’s ironic, but it’s indisputable, and the growing resistance to Common Core nationally is in no small part due to the idiocy of NCTM, though they are but one player in this game, and probably one of the better-intentioned ones at that.

                      Nonetheless, they have shown a level of denseness that I thought not even they were capable of, despite their abominable handling of their own project throughout the previous two decades. I should have known better, though. And so we’re still fighting the same battles, having failed miserably to make any real progress in the last 25 years and having blown an opportunity to have a meaningful national dialogue about what it means to teach, learn, and do mathematics. Oh, well.

          1. Really fine apology, Nick. But rather poor psychoanalysis. I don’t bottle up my anger in situations like this, as is obvious to anyone who can read. On the contrary, I am more than happy to have a healthy outlet for it when idiots act like what they are, then start complaining that it is unfair of me and others to fight fire with fire. Of course, wee I as disadvantaged in a verbal duel as you, I suppose I would squeal for an umpire, too.

            Thanks for proving my every point with the repeated use of my middle name rather than first despite repeated requests, your failure to apologize, and of course, your decision not to point to one of your incisive critiques among the several hundred comments or summarize it, or even – imagine! – restate it with revisions and improvements. My conclusion is that it is obvious why you don’t do any of those things.

            1. Indeed, it is obvious that you have too much hatred bottled up inside yourself to have an intelligent discussion. There simply is no point. You constantly stray off topic and engage in pointless rants.

                1. On your problem “MORE BAD SAT Advice from ETS”… You really should correct your suggestion. You have the ratio upside down in your solution.

                  The relevant problem being:

                  “The stopping distance of a car is the number of feet that the car travels after the driver starts applying the brakes. The stopping distance of a certain car is directly proportional to the square of the speed of the car, in miles per hour, at the time the brakes are first applied. If the car’s stopping distance for an initial speed of 20 miles per hour is 17 feet, what is its stopping distance for an initial speed of 40 miles per hour?”

                  This problem is very easy to solve, in your head, without resorting to any electronic device.

                  Simply put.

                  New Stopping Distance = Old Stopping Distance * (New Speed/Old Speed)^2.
                  NSD = 17 MPH * (40 MPH/20 MPH) ^2

                  Clearly the ratio of 40/20 reduces to 4/2 which reduces to 2/1 or 2.

                  And we all know that 2 squared is 4.

                  So the answer to the problem is 17 * 4.

                  Which is 40 + 28 or 68.

                  While you do present the correct technique for quickly solving this problem, you have your ratios upside down.

                  Instead of saying 20/40 = 1/2… You need to say 40/20 = 2.

                  Instead of squaring 1/2 to 1/4… You need to square 2 to 4.

                  Got it?

                  1. Intriguing that with all the folks who’ve read that blog piece, you’re the first one to find a nit to pick. I can look back at it to see whether you’re right and fix it if you are, but I am fascinated that you would go to my blog and report here on an alleged error that a lot of bright folks before you missed or didn’t see as worth mentioning for some reason. I wonder why YOU felt compelled to do so, and in THIS venue rather than on the blog piece. No possible ulterior motive for that, right, Nick? :^) Maybe you can edit the rest of the blog, as well as the one I’ve done sporadically over the last 14 months or so on the @the Chalkface site. I bet there are typos, formatting problems, etc., that you can point out to your heart’s delight. None of this is going to change my sense of your analysis of the teaching and learning of math, your take on politics, etc. I was more than willing to drop this business with you, but you really don’t want to quit, do you?

                    1. And you complain that MY comments are off-point? Give up while you’re behind. Or ahead. We clearly have nothing constructive to say to one another, and out of respect for “Crazy Crawfish,” whose turf this is, let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that.

                    2. Okay, let’s try this one from your blog.

                      The SAT question was “a man drives 30 miles/hr to work and 40 miles/hr coming home. If the trip takes one hour, how long is the journey.”

                      What is the best method for solving this problem quickly.

                      For this problem, a straw guess method may be the best.

                      straw guess: 1 mile. (Purpose is for simple numbers not to get the answer)

                      So we have two equations. Going to work takes 2 minutes. 1 mi * 60 min/ 30 mph

                      Returning takes 1.5 minutes. (Or 3/2 min) 1 mi * 60 min/40 mph.

                      We add up the distance and the time. It takes 3.5 minutes to go The 2 miles.

                      Double both to remove the fraction and we get it takes 7 minutes to go 4 miles.

                      Now we have our final equation. 60 minutes to go x miles.

                      So x is 60 * 4 / 7. 0r 240/7. Or. 34 and 2/7 miles.

                    3. Nick, you whinged about my being off track from the focus of this blog. Now you insist on making the focus MY blog. I won’t play. If you want to discuss posts I’ve made there, the comments are open: make your observations there. If you make them here, I won’t reply.

                      And what about all that hatred I’ve got? Suddenly that doesn’t matter, apparently, as you attempt to bait me. Is this your notion of being a clever boots? If so, I wonder what audience you fancy you’re playing to, but henceforth, here, you’ll be performing a solo act as far as I’m concerned.

                    4. That does seem to be an attempt to bait Michael and question his credibility. I would rather everyone chill out and discuss points more salient to this post. I did some more math homework with my daughter tonight. (No problem with her English at this point.) It involved counting little boxes and sets of 10 box groups. She was very frustrated as to why she was doing it. I had trouble determining how the creators of the worksheet intended it to be solved. I could see some promise in it, but I can’t tell if my daughter is just pretending to not understand. She loves her English homework and screams how she hates math and never understands it. As a parent I am unsure how to proceed. I don’t voice my issues in front of her. I try to be patient but as a parent I am concerned. I want to help my child and protect her. I feel helpless not knowing what the writers are expecting. The answers look obvious to me, but I understand math. I’m concerned by her questions that she really doesn’t get it.

                    5. I wish I had taken pictures but didn’t want to make a big deal in front of my daughter who was already hating on it. The point of the exercise seemed to be counting in multiples of tens, but it also had piles of ones that exceeded 10 (like 17, 14, 16) she had to either count by hand or subtract from the given totals for each line. I wasn’t sure if she was really meant to count those individual blocks and organize them in additional 10 groups subtract the 10s from the total to find the remainder of ones or just count the little blocks individually. The numbers were like 36 and 26 with 4 different representations in block formulations. Each collection of boxes equalled the sum for a line but it might have 2 box sets and then 16 smaller boxes equal one 36 and maybe 3 10s and 6, and maybe 1 10 and 26 little boxes. It had word problems organized around this concept of counting in groupings of 10 and ones. So, as an adult, I can think of several ways to solve and no guidance was given as to what they were trying to get the kids to do. She didn’t buy my explanation as to “why” she had to count that way.

                    6. Sorry about that. I thought it might get him off of ranting about the Vietnam war, etc. if I could get him talking about something he loved doing – his math work. Instead he just got all offended and defensive. Sigh.

                    7. I’m trying to figure out whose blog this is, Crazy Crawfish’s or Nick’s. I told you, Nick, where to leave comments on my blog if you want to discuss things I’ve written there. As for politics, seems like you only are okay about such matters being discussed if they match your own views and biases. How unusual!

                      You can’t bait me into playing silly games with you here. Name-calling, direct sarcasm addressed to me or indirect shots taken while appearing to address others here won’t get me to fall into your all-too-obvious snares. Comment on my blog and I’ll be happy to discuss what I write. Comment here and I won’t play. Because, for starters, it’s pointless to turn CC’s blog into a discussion board about MY blog, given that there is a forum for doing the latter ON MY BLOG. Again, how unusual.

                      If your goal is to establish yourself as a master baiter, I think you’ve already won the title. So stop addressing me here, because I’m not interested. Over on my blog, I’ll give you all the attention you seem to crave and more.

                    8. On the contrary. I am trying to respect YOUR blog space. I know Nick isn’t coming to my blog to play, because that wouldn’t fit his needs. But I wanted to make clear that his comments about my blog posts don’t belong here, and that I won’t reply to those comments to an audience that has no interest in my blog. On the other hand, for a guy who wanted me not to go off topic (in his estimation), Nick surely likes to remind everyone of those “off-topic” subjects, doesn’t he?

                    9. Lol. True. I don’t mind folks going too off topic if the conversation evolves there – on older posts especially. I consider them chatrooms after a while. The personal attacks and insult trading I could do without. For an example check out the evolution/intelligent design post/room. I have some regulars there that just like to chat about those topics with anyone who drops by.

                    10. It happens. Once we feel attacked or under seige it’s easy to see all interactions as assaults. This is an emotional topic especially for folks who have dedicated their lives to enriching children’s lives with math only to see a bunch of ignorant yokels like myself shooting off about concepts we are just ignorant of along with some serious issues surrounding proper implementation, adequate training, poor quality resources, undemocratic tyrannical and hurried implementations tied to improperly used high stakes tests. There are a lot of folks to be mad at and things to be mad about. I think his anger should be more directed at those who created this mess personally, but anger is anger. It goes where it will and whomever is closest often gets the brunt of it, deserving or no.

                    11. Sorry, CC, but your amateur psychoanalysis is pretty terrible. I’ve treated YOU with kid gloves here, out of respect for the good things you’re trying to do. And I’m willing to continue to do so, but not indefinitely. If you continue to write about me like I’m some enraged lunatic who is just picking the easiest or most convenient targets, you’ll disappoint me. I have a quarter-century track record of being dedicated to improving the quality and nature of US math education and of working with the most economically-challenged, highest-need kids and schools in Michigan (and some in NYC). That doesn’t make me “right” about everything or even anything, but if you think I’m going to sit still for the b.s. that shows up here from Nick or passively let you suggest that I’m just lashing out randomly at innocent targets while failing to attack the big evil-doers, you’re both ill-informed about or ignorant of my work and writing, and badly mistaken about my motives for trying to put what’s going on with math right now in this country into some semblance of sane perspective. I get bashed in places like this and on Diane Ravitch’s blog (even though she and I are on very good terms), for trying to get folks to stick to facts, while I’ve been Public Enemy Number One on various right wing websites for over two decades. Maybe I’m just someone who likes to argue. Or maybe I’m just someone who isn’t afraid to argue with ANYONE when I see what they’re saying is simply not the case. After being attacked as a communist, a socialist, a corporate shill, an astroturfer for the right, and plenty of other charming epithets, nothing surprises me. So you and Nick can continue having your little lovefest at my expense, if that makes you feel better about yourselves. But don’t expect me to stay silent or to treat YOU with more respect than you seem willing to give.

                    12. Lol. I appreciate the glove treatment. I was doing the same for you. This was my not too subtle hint to chill out on the personal attacks on people you disagree with. You claim people attack you and call you names but you seem to provoke them all first. I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt but you seem determined to insult and belittle everyone who disagrees with you, despite being a staunch opponent of Common Core for your own narrow and personally approved reasons. I respect your perspective but not your methods or venom. I have learned from you, but one of the things I have learned from you was probably not an intentional lesson. I learned how being overly aggressive does nothing but precipitate more aggressive behaviour and nullifies any potential for discussion or common ground. I welcome your insight but if you can only provide it accompanied by the bitterness, name calling and ridicule (you say bothers you and follows you everywhere) I would ask that you simply refrain from posting. Feel free to prove my amateur psychoanalysis wrong but if not I thank you for stoping by and encourage you to return when you feel you can comment constructively on topics with more restraint in the personal attack department. I don’t like having to constantly moderate personal attacks. I don’t have infinte time and I have a lot of ground to cover. As you stated, Louisiana is one of the extremes and I need help and allies not distractions and anymore enemies.

                    13. I can just as readily make my comments about your blog on Facebook or my own blogs, so you might as well see them and be able to reply if you like. Banning me won’t silence me, and a lot of people read me elsewhere when I copy my comments here to other media. Since I’m reasonably sure you can’t prevent me from reading your blog and the comments, or from making my own analysis and sharing it, seems kinda pointless to get spiteful. But whatever floats your boat.

                      On my view, stupidity has to be answered when it’s evident that it’s getting a lot of acceptance. People make rather intriguing claims here (and loads of other places, of course, as if they are simply factual, with no attempt at all to provide one iota of evidence. Anecdotes are now considered unassailable fact, even when the sources are so obviously grounded in fringe “wisdom” like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and the like. Perhaps even more dangerous are “experts” with similar political agendas who are more than willing to use their reputations as professional MATHEMATICIANS to push their ideologies on those who are easily impressed by titles. I speak in particularly there of R. James Milgram and his sidekick, Sandra Stotsky.

                      Anyway, I guess I’ll know I’m banned when I can’t post here or my posts are deleted, but as I said, I will most definitely continue to watch and, if I’m so inclined, post responses to places where they will likely get a wider readership than they do here. Do what you will.

                    14. Lol. I have no intention of banning you or anyone. I welcome your insight. I am asking you to ratchet back your vitriol a notch or two or to voluntarily refrain from posting if you feel to angry to respond civily. I expect more of you and your very rational responses are being sullied by your emotional ones. I am asking as a courtesy. I don’t like my guests to be insulted. If they don’t make sense or are confused I feel they need the most interaction and guidance. They are not getting that in the mainstream media or from their schools or school administrators or political and civic leaders.

                    15. I reviewed this entire thread and then decided I didn’t like the direction it had taken or even my own behavior so I’m not saying I am blameless here. It is still receiving attention and now by mainstream news organizations. I’d like the information to be more relevant and useful and less aggressive.

                    16. Works for me. I’m happy to go “non-snark.” But of course, it’s a two-way street. Over on Diane Ravitch’s blog, a lot of the same stuff has been going on. She clamps down on profanity, but that’s about it. I screen comments on my blogs, but only for spam. Oddly, some of the best math ed blogs I read seem to draw frequent spam posts (the ones where the sender praises the blogger/blog in vague terms in order to embed a link to some web site s/he’s paid to push). What I won’t do, however, is install a Captcha, as those drive me crazy when I have to wade through them and the images are virtually unreadable. I’m 64, and it’s sometimes hard enough to read from a screen.

                    17. I get spam all the time. If it gets through my filter I delete it. When I first started my blog almost all my comments were spam. I didn’t realize at first and just thought I was admired by mentally challenged people. Once I realized what was going on I was sad because I really needed all that positive feedback when I first started out. 🙂

                    18. So what am I missing here a Micheal? I know that there is an easy math solution for this problem, I just can’t put my finger on it.

                      How about this method…
                      if He drove 30 mph the entire time, then the answer is 30 miles for 1 hour.
                      If he drove 40 mph the entire time, then the answer is 40 miles for 1 hour.

                      The difference between the two extremes is 10 miles.

                      The answer has to be proportionate to the two speeds 30mph and 40 mph.

                      We can reduce that to the ratio of 3 to 4.

                      So if one portion is 3. The other portion is 4. The total portion is 3+4 or 7. Yes?

                      So the answer is 3/7 of the distance (10 miles) above 30 miles
                      One 4/7 of the distance (10 miles) below 40 miles.

                      3/7 of 10 is 4.2857 or 4 and 2/7th. So the answer is 34 and 2/7

                      Or if we go the other way. 4/7 of 10 is 5.714. Or 5 and 5/7 below 40 miles, so also 34 and 2/7.

                      Now why is that working exactly…

                    19. My advice would be to talk to the teacher. You need to get the instructions as to the concepts she is trying to teach. My daughter was always resistant to solving problems in a different manner from how the teacher told them to solve the problem. So the only way to I could successfully resolve the problem was to align myself to the method the teacher was using. The kids are smart enough to know that solving the problem in a way that the teacher does not want it to be solved usually gets the answer marked incorrectly.

                      Thinking on. I think you said that they were using the public EngageNY materials. This earlier example was from that package. So assuming that, you should be able to find and download the complete workbook. I think there is a link earlier on on the discussion where I found the first book. If you get these public workbooks, you can get slightly ahead of the lessons, so you can give your daughter quick and accurate advice relative to the current assignment. B

                      Then she can sail through these assignments easily instead of plowing through them and hating them.

  44. Nick, this conversation, such as it is, has been raging for close to a year. Is there some PARTICULAR comment you want me to consider as being YOUR evidence? Or is it just too hard for you to give a cogent analysis? You know what I think at this point about the depth of your understanding of the issues, I’m sure. I thought I’d offer you another shot at displaying your analytic powers, since you had nothing to say about R. James Milgram after my last comment directed to you. But it seems like you’re no more informed or articulate on this end of the thread than you were there. 😦 Quelle domage.

      1. But I’ve read your contributions, Nick. To say that I was underwhelmed would be the kindest thing I can offer. Perhaps you have some NEW, more incisive comments to offer after nearly a year of discussion. Or perhaps not.

        By the way, on my view, attacking “Common Core Math” by dredging up bits of crappy math writing, of which there has never been a dearth in this country, is a foolish strategy. I have never argued in favor of the Engage-NY curriculum in general, based on comments I’ve gotten from colleagues who are actual mathematics teachers, 30+ year veteran secondary teachers in the NYC Public Schools, who found it appalling. Nonetheless, if you bother to read broadly online about what’s going on nationally, you’ll find some very curious facts: there are other curricula being used in other states (Michigan has no single mandated math program for any grade level, though naturally districts have tried to adopt materials that claim to be aligned to the Common Core.

        What I find extremely interesting is that there are areas of the country where Singapore Math is being used. Singapore Math is touted by some of the most vehement opponents of both “Common Core Math” (whatever they believe that is) AND any and all NCTM-style math programs that emerged in the late ’80s and on throughout the 1990s, which they dismiss as “Fuzzy Math.”

        What is just intriguing is that there are vehement opponents of “Common Core Math” who never got the word that “Singapore Math” is approved by many politically or educationally-conservative pundits. So these poor folks are writing online about how horrible this Singapore Common Core Math is. I’d laugh if this weren’t such a telling fact about the abject ignorance of many Americans as to what the issues are as to what comprises decent mathematics teaching, resources, etc.

        I recommend that you stop wasting your time bemoaning the materials and start figuring out what would be better. If your focus is elementary math, take a look at Christopher Danielson’s two math blogs; “Overthinking My Teaching,” which is excellent, and “Talking Math With Your Kids,” which is a once-in-a-lifetime work of genius. You might start realizing that there are a lot of teachers out there just ignoring to the extent that they can the whole Common Core nonsense and actually doing brilliant things with kids. And you might learn what you can do to help your own kids, if you have them.

        Of course, you’d have to actually think.

    1. Assuming they are still using EngageNY materials. Second grade math is found here:

      You should be able to find that worksheet in these modules

      They should be about 21 days into the school year.

      We can rule out module 2, units. So either they just started module 3, or they are way behind and still on module 1. I’d say look first at module 3.

      They have 8 full modules you can download. (181 days)

      Grade 2 Module 1: Sums and Differences to 20 (10 days)

      Module 1 sets the foundation for students to master the sums and differences to 20 and to subsequently apply these skills to fluently add one-digit to two-digit numbers at least through 100 using place value understandings, properties of operations and the relationship between addition and subtraction.

      Grade 2 Module 2: Addition and Subtraction of Length Units (12 days)

      In this 12-day Grade 2 module, students engage in activities designed to deepen their conceptual understanding of measurement and to relate addition and subtraction to length. Their work in Module 2 is exclusively with metric units in order to support place value concepts. Customary units will be introduced in Module 7.

      Grade 2 Module 3: Place Value, Counting, and Comparison of Numbers to 1,000 (25 days)

      In this 25-day Grade 2 module, students expand their skill with and understanding of units by bundling ones, tens, and hundreds up to a thousand with straws. Unlike the length of 10 centimeters in Module 2, these bundles are discrete sets. One unit can be grabbed and counted just like a banana―1 hundred, 2 hundred, 3 hundred, etc. A number in Grade 1 generally consisted of two different units, tens and ones. Now, in Grade 2, a number generally consists of three units: hundreds, tens, and ones. The bundled units are organized by separating them largest to smallest, ordered from left to right. Over the course of the module, instruction moves from physical bundles that show the proportionality of the units to non-proportional place value disks and to numerals on the place value chart.

      Grade 2 Module 4: Addition and Subtraction Within 200 with Word Problems to 100 (35 days)

      In Module 4, students develop place value strategies to fluently add and subtract within 100; they represent and solve one- and two-step word problems of varying types within 100; and they develop conceptual understanding of addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers within 200. Using a concrete to pictorial to abstract approach, students use manipulatives and math drawings to develop an understanding of the composition and decomposition of units, and they relate these representations to the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction.

      Grade 2 Module 5: Addition and Subtraction Within 1,000 with Word Problems to 100 (25 days)

      In Module 4, students developed addition and subtraction fluency within 100 and began developing conceptual understanding of the standard algorithm via place value strategies. In Module 5, students build upon their mastery of renaming place value units and extend their work with conceptual understanding of the addition and subtraction algorithms to numbers within 1,000, always with the option of modeling with materials or drawings. Throughout the module, students continue to focus on strengthening and deepening conceptual understanding and fluency.

      Grade 2 Module 6: Foundations of Multiplication and Division (24 days)

      Module 6 lays the conceptual foundation for multiplication and division in Grade 3 and for the idea that numbers other than 1, 10, and 100 can serve as units. Topics in this module include: Formation of Equal Groups, Arrays and Equal Groups, Rectangular Arrays as a Foundation for Multiplication and Division, and The Meaning of Even and Odd Numbers.

      Grade 2 Module 7: Problem Solving with Length, Money, and Data (30 days)

      Module 7 presents an opportunity for students to practice addition and subtraction strategies within 100 and problem-solving skills as they learn to work with various types of units within the contexts of length, money, and data. Students represent categorical and measurement data using picture graphs, bar graphs, and line plots. They revisit measuring and estimating length from Module 2, though now using both metric and customary units.

      Grade 2 Module 8: Time, Shapes, and Fractions as Equal Parts of Shapes (20 days)

      In Module 8, the final module of the year, students extend their understanding of part–whole relationships through the lens of geometry. As students compose and decompose shapes, they begin to develop an understanding of unit fractions as equal parts of a whole.

        1. Zero tolerance policies. We see them testing in disabled students hooked up to life support, disciplinary policies, and of course attendance. It’s like the humans in charge want to be replaced by mindless, soulless, computers.

          1. I know. A ‘zero tolerance’ policy properly administered is not a problem. All the had to do was rule her absences as excused and they were good. Sheesh.

            1. True. But not all zero tolerance policies are built as effectively. They may have strict guidelines that offer little discretion in ruling an absence excused or unexcused. I am not a big fan. The problem they often try to solve is abuse by the administrators, who apparently just then abuse the zero tolerance policy to make points (or because they are really just that stupid and pig headed).

      1. Unit 3, start if the module ?

        Snarky: after reading a few of those sacariny intros, does the class have to break out into song and dance? Perhaps a numbers skit?

  45. I think everything posted made a bunch of sense.
    But, what about this? what if you added a little information? I ain’t saying your content is not good, but suppose you added a
    post title that makes people desire more? I mean My attempt at completing my
    first grader’s Common Core math homework – and a little historical CCSS context | Crazy Crawfish’s Blog is a little plain. You ought to look
    at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write news headlines to grab viewers to open the links.
    You might add a video or a related pic or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve written. Just
    my opinion, it could make your posts a little bit more

  46. I stumbled upon this web page after googling “what the hell is a 5 group card??” while attempting to help my son with the exact same pages you showed pictures of.

    My 6 year old can do algebra in his head and calculates equations with negative numbers for fun, but makes mistakes on these bull shit worksheets. He also assumed that “doubles plus one” means doubling the number and adding one. Imagine the frustration when doubling plus one-ing the number 2 is 3, not 5!

    The only job skills I think this prepares kids for is quietly submitting to an abusive boss who requires you to spend your days doing worthless busywork that the janitor just throws away at 5:01 pm.

    1. Lol. That was how i felt when i started doing these with my daughter. You captured my anger and frustration exactly. Fortunately we no longer have Eureka or EngageNY. My daughter’s teacher also crosses out the stupid “explain 3 ways you can solve this using pictures” junk. Some of it is not as bad when you strip out the garbage. Some teachers insist on not solving equations the “old way” which is ridiculous. I have less of a problem when they add new methods but when they refuse to let kids solve problems by stacking methods for addition, subtraction and multiplication and tell them these are “wrong” then i have a major problem.

      1. For me, the question is more why teachers would tell kids that something that obviously works is wrong. But then, I also wonder why parents who find that upsetting have no compunction about telling their kids that new methods (new to the parents, that is) which obviously work and are in fact grounded in sound mathematics (and which often were widely used in the past) are wrong. Deriding what you don’t understand is as common as dirt.

        But in the first case, something else is going on. It can’t be that the teachers really have never seen the methods that are being called “wrong.” They learned them as kids. So what would compel a teacher to tell kids that these are “wrong”? Until you have a firm handle on that, and I certainly don’t yet have one, this becomes a lot of yammering about how angry people are about something that they don’t like but have not yet sussed out. There really are some serious questions to explore, but screaming won’t get the job done. Asking teachers what they do and why is the only way to get useful data. And possibly one thing that will turn up is that how parents are describing what teachers are saying, based on hearsay from their kids, may not always be what’s actually happening at all. That won’t explain everything in play here, but I’d be shocked if it doesn’t explain some of it.

        1. It’s not hearsay. I have had discussions with many parents who have confronted their teachers about this directly. They told the kids these are the “old ways” and we do things better now. It seems to be newer teachers and more concentrated in specific districts. I’ve been doing my homework since i wrote this story about my daughter’s homework.

          1. It’s hearsay until you hear it from a teacher. You’re one, and you surely know that what passes from teachers to students and then students to parents is suspect. But even what passes from teachers to parents directly as suspect. I’ve had administrators ask me about things I allegedly told parents that I absolutely did not say. If you’ve never had that pleasure, you’re lucky, indeed.

            I’m not suggesting in any way that every story about this issue is false. I’m suggesting that if you want to know what’s going on, speak directly to some of the teachers. Eliminate the middle-people and get it straight from the horse’s mouth. If a teacher looked me in the eye and said what you say in your third sentence above, I’d have to be restrained to keep from collapsing with laughter.

            I would believe that this sort of thing would be more likely to come out of the mouths of new teachers. They tend to be as a whole more susceptible to district propaganda given at beginning of the year PD sessions. Not all of them are, of course, and not all who are susceptible are newbies, either. But regardless, anyone who says this sort of thing without having more than that to offer sounds like a drone, an idiot, or a deeply cynical person trying to ensure his/her ass is covered. Repeating district or state mantras isn’t likely to get anyone fired, no matter how stupid the homily.

            But are there *that* many people like that in local districts? None of them have more than that to say about their thinking? Again, you’re getting it at best second hand. Not good enough to explain the process the teachers are using to justify saying that, if indeed that’s what they’re saying and nothing more.

            1. Well. I have also seen it on notes on tests, emails and documentation they have sent home with parents in test prep packets. They are telling parents kids will not be able to use these methods on PARCC tests and that they are holding their children back by allowing their children to continue to use these archaic methods. Unless i put listening devices on the parents talking to these teachers or adopt thousands of kids for the purpose of exposing these teachers in parent teacher conferences with my thousands of kids I’m not sure how more firsthand i can get. I doubt the teachers of other kids parents would want to talk to me. I’ve actually tried interviewing the teachers that selected Eureka as the only Tier 1 math product for the state and they refuse to go on record or explain anything, even off the record.

              1. “They are telling parents kids will not be able to use these methods on PARCC tests and that they are holding their children back by allowing their children to continue to use these archaic methods.”

                That’s plausible and, of course, not necessarily true (meaning that I highly doubt that the kids “won’t be able to use” standard algorithms on the PARCC or the Smarter Balanced tests or on the SAT or ACT or GRE, ad nauseam. What is possible is that they will *also* be expected to use other methods or at least in the primary grades to demonstrate that they understand and can use more than one method.

                Why? Because if you look at the history of attempts to reform mathematics teaching in this country (and I’m speaking of long before there was anything vaguely like the Common Core or national testing, etc.), time and again there was huge resistance from many teachers to amending how they taught arithmetic. There are many reasons for such resistance, not all of them bad, but for the most part I’ve seen evidence that the top reason had to do with fear and comfort. Many lower-grade (and some higher-grade) teachers aren’t good at math even at the elementary level and don’t want to have to explain anything from a “Why does this make sense?” perspective or to have to teach multiple ways of doing, let alone thinking about, basic mathematics.

                So the new ideas and materials roll in, and these sorts of teachers put them in their drawers and never use them (except maybe when someone from “above” visits their classroom a few times a year. A dog and pony show is presented, and then it’s back to the “tried and true.” Even if every teacher who did that sort of thing was an outstanding practitioner of the Old School approaches, which is highly doubtful, it would still be a huge problem for those kids who just don’t get things that way. So it seems inevitable to me that we would come to a point where someone up the ladder of power was going to say, “We want these changes, and we want them made in a way that won’t let the weasels weasel out.” (Probably that wasn’t a verbatim quotation.) I went through this as a teacher and coach in the ’90s and middle of the ’00s. Now that the US DOE is a major player, the heavy-handed approach is predictable.

                There’s a lot to chew over here, but one thing these teachers who buy into such propaganda seem to miss: the higher-level standardized tests aren’t going to reflect these alternative methods all that much if at all. University math and science departments still expect students to be able to pass their tests. Now, in my experience, knowledgeable mathematics educators aren’t looking to replace traditional ‘efficient’ algorithms with these newer ones, but to have them on-hand as teaching tools for building understanding and also as alternative, sometimes more comprehensible means to do calculations (but not by drawing 100 dots or something similarly impractical. Teachers who insist that a more mature student only use one particular method are, on my view, bad teachers That should be up to the student. And I’ve always taught teachers to think that way.

    2. Lisa, could you give some examples of what you mean when you say that your six-year-old can do algebra?

      On that doubles plus one business, it depends on what the actual question is. If the question is “What is a double plus one you get if you start with one?” then the answer should be 3. If it’s “What is a double plus one you get if you start with two?” then the answer should be 5. But you’ve not made clear what the question was in which 2 led to 3 as an answer. If may be that students were told to take each even number as a “double” and just add one to get the “double plus one.” That would make sense. Or the question/answer pair might indeed be misleading if the question was unintentionally ambiguous. Absent the specifics, it’s impossible to judge fairly.

  47. My child is in first grade, and on the 5th week of school, before the kids even learned how to add properly, they introduced doubles + 1 and doubles – 1. I am an engineering and a math tutor since I was in high school, so I had no problem teaching her how to add 2 single-digit numbers very quickly during the summer. I was in the classroom for observation when the teacher asked them to add 5+6. My child raised her hand and said, “11”. The teacher said, “Great, which doubles + 1 rule did you use?” My poor child said, “5+6 is 11, what doubles rule?” She was driven to tears with this doubles + 1 non-sense, so I ended up making some steps for her to memorize just so she could pass her tests. As I was doing research on common core standard, I read somewhere they got these concepts from Asia. B***S***. I grew up in HK and never ever had to learn math like this, so don’t even tell me this is from Asia.

    I do know how to do doubles + 1, but that’s when I learned it on my own when I was in math club in high school, just something to do when I was bored. It is an useless concept because you can never add big numbers using doubles, so what’s the point?

    If we continue to do this to our children, we’d have a generation of kids with no math skills, who otherwise would have thrived with the traditional math method. I also read that they were supposed to teach them the regular methods and allow the kids to pick whichever method that works for them, but it seems like that works in theory but can never be carried out, b/c the teachers are focused on making sure the kids all know these non-nonsensical methods or else the kids won’t pass whatever standardized test the State puts out.

    1. Beeg wrote in part: “As I was doing research on common core standard, I read somewhere they got these concepts from Asia. B***S***. I grew up in HK and never ever had to learn math like this, so don’t even tell me this is from Asia.”

      So Hong Kong = All of Asia? I hear that it’s a very large continent, with lots of countries. Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, etc. have rather positive reputations regarding math teaching/learning. Couldn’t possibly be from one of those, could it, if you didn’t learn it in Hong Kong?

      As for the usefulness of doubles + 1. You claim to “understand it,” yet the fact that you mention it in the context of large numbers suggests that your understanding isn’t very deep. It’s a particular way for students to learn math facts for *small* numbers. No one I know of suggests that students need to memorize “facts” involving large numbers. So either that’s a specious argument on your part or you don’t get the point as much as you think you do.

      Teachers aren’t supposed to be teaching “doubles + 1” as a general method of doing addition, nor should they be teaching it as mechanically as some do. But that’s the fault of teachers teaching things they don’t understand or operating like robots for any of a host of reasons. It’s not the fault of the idea itself. In fact, a mathematically knowledgeable teacher could do a lot more with this idea with K-5 kids. For example, what do we know about all numbers that are “doubles + 1”? (They must be odd. Why?) So if you’re given an odd number, how do you find what double it is one more than? (Subtract 1, then divide the result by 2). And so on. If that’ B.S., then I would like more of it in K-5 classrooms in this country. A whole lot more.

      As for your prediction of doom and gloom: what was the generation/era in which, absent these horrible methods you decry, the majority of American students were sharp customers in mathematics? Oh, there never was one? Right. And since you grew up in HK, I’m not quite sure that you have a basis to speak about what things were like here before you arrived. I went to K-12 in ’55 – ’68. Not a golden age of American school mathematics. My father was in K-12 from 1929 – 1941. Not a golden age. My grandmother went from 1895 to 1910. Not a golden age. Maybe they slipped one in between 1944 (when my mother graduated high school) and 1955. Ya think?

  48. This is my 16th year teaching first grade. “Doubles” and “Doubles plus one” are just a few of the strategies we use to teach students to master basic math facts. These have existed long before “Common Core.” Students know their “Doubles facts” fluently. They know 5 + 5 long before entering school because of counting fingers or toes! Once they master all the doubles facts, then we show them how to add on one more and to learn a new fact. “If you know 5 + 5 = 10, what do you think 5 + 6 = ?”

        1. Someone mention Eureka in my comment or the one I replied to?

          Good ideas are good regardless of where they appear or who repeats them. Bad ones remain bad even if Mercedes Schneider or the King of Curriculum endorses them. That’s what people need to wrap their heads around. Otherwise, this becomes pure political idiocy.

            1. CC, there are times I really wonder if people who get caught up in this stuff just put giant layers of foil around their heads and refuse to think at all after that. Read what the comment was to which I responded and what I said. Then read your reply. Your post is well over a year old. Do you sense Kay or I arguing with you about Eureka?

              But I’ll bite because you apparently just can’t manage to let go of your bone: what difference does it make who publishes something if the particular idea under discussion is sound? And the one Kay brought up is perfectly sound whether it’s in a book you like or not. Capisce?

  49. I googled sons homework
    Match the top cards to the bottom cards
    And got your blog
    Wtf is this bullshit
    It makes no sense and is your answer right ?

  50. I live in Maine, my sister is in the 4th grade and takes the ‘slow learners’ math class (the same math the 1st graders get).

    Her homework for the weekend stumped the hell out of me (I am a Landscape Design Engineer, i majored in Geometry and other related math forms) and i googled one of the problems, which the sheet claimed was ‘basic algebra’ (i assure you this was not any kind of algebra). The problem came up as a Harvard Calculus Midyear Exam Question.

    Yeah its a college level calculus problem being presented to 1st graders (and the slow to learn 4th graders) as algebra.

    Shit i was just finishing up with middle school when Common Core was put in place, so in middle school i was still doing long division, but when i got to high school…well we went straight into Algebra with no ‘pre algebra’ like they have today, because that was a middle school class.

      1. I majored in Geometric Mathematics. Which is just geometry with a fancy name. I will be happy to get the link to the schools source for their standardized, commoncore test sheets, which is what she was given as a homework assignment. Not all of the questions were of that sort, but that one question was. The others were far more advanced than anything I saw until college.

          1. This was the Jay Livermore Falls Livermore School district, I don’t know the actual number, I live an hour away and was just stopping by for a BBQ. I emailed the school asking for blank copies of their standardized papers, my sisters is covered in angry scribbles because the problems made her head hurt.

            1. I went to college just off Rte 2, but in Vermont. Hitched out to Maine (Palmyra) back in Oct. 1970 to visit a high school friend who was building a geodesic dome there for some Princeton U grads. So I guess I went just north of that school district on my way out.

              Would love to see those tests. Someone would appear to have taken leave of reality. Nothing in the Common Core or any curriculum materials I’ve ever seen would account for asking students below the level of AP calculus to compute that integral or any integral, derivative, or limit.

              1. Its funny the school says all their assignments are carefully selected to get the maximum result and to ‘push the limits of the students to further their progress’. This was the first homework assignment like this, and they just announced a schoolboard meeting to discuss ‘parent concerns’ about the work assignments. Can’t wait to see what they have to say. My email was responded to with a “We invite you to attend Wednesdays urgent School Board public meeting at 3pm”.

                  1. pretty much, this is the new school board, the last one, except for one member, all got out of it last spring, because of the states ‘budget adjustments’.

        1. Well, Dremulf, I get the idea. But I would really like to see some documentation that this appeared anywhere outside an AP calculus class at a high school, let alone in an elementary (K-5 or K-6) classroom.

          As for my question about geometric mathematics, I asked WHERE you majored in that. Perhaps my son would be interested in the program given his skills and tastes in math.

          1. I went to Penn State, but I wouldn’t suggest your son go, their policies on rape allegations could screw him over if he dumps a tramp. A guy in my Engineering course was expelled after his ex accused him, and even after he was proven not guilty, they still wouldn’t let him back in. I would suggest UMass or Boston U, they both have those courses (or did six years ago anyway)

  51. So apparently, 3.5 years after your dismay about the way our children are taught, I am faced with the exact same math homework. This shows me there’s no progress in the educational system despite the fact the the world is evolving. How are they still using the same textbooks from 3+ years ago.

    After reading the question and cracking my brains, I thought for a second that I am either not as smart as a first grader or there is an error somewhere.

    The wordings are confusing and needs immediate attention.

    Nevertheless, thanks for helping me with this homework. I really needed it.

    1. Your school district or teacher may be slacking if they are issuing these same exact sheets with typos after all this time. The initial rollout was rushed and bungled in many places but there’s no excuse now.

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