"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Common Core Aligned Curricula Discussed by a Teacher/Parent. Heart Mapping, Data Mining and More.

Is this the type of education that will make students globally competitive?  Do you want your child's "heart mapping" entered into a data base or published on the Internet?

A teacher/parent gives examples of what Common Core looks like in the classroom. From Marcia Alder in Indiana:



* Common Core “State” Standards (CCSS) as I have researched them online and witnessed firsthand in Math with my 3rd and 5th grader, as well as in English/Lit. (ELA) with my 7th grader in Southeast Wisconsin.

* CCSS are evaluated through Formative and Summative Assessments. Formerly known as Quizzes and Tests to you and me.

* Grades are no longer relevant with this system.

I was told by the principal at the Middle School and my 7th grader’s English teacher, that the goal is to give a child a firm comprehensive conceptual understanding of the standard being evaluated rather than stressing over getting an A on a test.

* So how do they assess this conceptual understanding?

The CCSS uses a 4 point system. This is not your college GPA. These numbers are not averaged over time, nor do they translate directly to the traditional ABCDF we are familiar with. Even though at this time, colleges and future employers still demand this old style of grades. They are still working out how these “data points” showing growth and improvement over the quarter translate into these old fashioned grades.

* Currently this is how they explain the number system used for Student Assessment.

            1 = Fails to meet the goals set forth for this standard.

            2 = Minimally meets the goals set forth for this standard.

            3 = Proficiently demonstrates the goals set forth for this standard.

            4 = Masters the goals set forth for this standard.

* If at the end of the quarter your child has all 3’s and 4’s = A, all 3’s and 2’s = B, all 2’s = C, all 2’s and 1’s = D, all 1’s = F. This is subjective based on their steady improvement and continual work to grasp the standards being covered and can be modified by the teacher to reflect their hard work. This is only being implemented to my knowledge in the 7th grade middle school English department at this time in our school system.

* In order to minimize the initial confusion of implementing the Common Core, the elementary school chose to keep the traditional ABCDF for now and only focus on the new method of teaching.

* So how do these numbers apply to a simple math problem?

The best example I have is from my 3rd grader during the first quarter in addition this year.

15 + 17 = _____ (Seems simple enough, right? Wrong!!!)

* With this new Assessment scale…

            * If you simply make an error on the addition of 15 + 17 and get the wrong answer and do nothing else, 

                        this is a 1.

            * If you add                + 15

                                                + 17

                                                + 32     and you did nothing else you would get a 2!

You see “we don’t truly understand what we are doing with this problem, in so much as we are just performing rote memorization to answer this one,” per our Director of Curriculum.

          * Here is what my child had to do with this problem next to get a 3!

Should be diagram of what he had to do here

            * Now to get a 4 you have to then write a sentence something like this to show you truly comprehend what it is that you are doing when you add two numbers together to get an answer.

            I took five ones units from the seventeen group and added them to the other five ones units from

            the fifteen to make a new tens block. This gives me three tens blocks that equal thirty. The two

            remaining ones units from the seventeen cannot be added to anything else to make a new tens

            block so I added them to the tens blocks to get the answer of 32.

* Congratulations you have just taken 10 minutes to answer what my child knew in five seconds was the answer to this problem to start with. But, now he truly understands what he is doing when he adds two numbers.

* The teachers gave them the summative assessment for this unit. Answer 100 addition problems in the old fashioned way in 5 minutes. Of course the students all passed, as they had memorized basic addition and subtraction facts for these type of tests last year.

* I decided to let them sink or swim with this one. On to multiplication they went.

* My child truly understands what he is doing when he multiplies two numbers together. One of the teachers told me they knew that the students all got the concept now and that in two chapters they were going to be starting division. Therefore, they decided to give the summative assessment for multiplication.

* You guessed it….100 problems in 5 minutes. They all failed! My child who is a whiz, or was, at math came home with a 33. Now mind you, every problem that he answered he answered correctly. He simply could never complete this task in 5 minutes the way he had been taught if his life depended on it. It takes him 15 - 30 seconds for the simplest of problems. To compete this timed test (assessment) you have 3 seconds to come up with and write down each of the answers.

* The CCSS standard for this grade level is to be able to “multiply all one-digit numbers from memory (knowing their time tables)” and to be able to “multiply one-digit numbers by multiples of 10 (such a 20, 30, 40)”. They will be able to do this. However, without the rote memorization of these simple fact tables they will not have the speed necessary to complete the more complex math tasks later on. I do not see how this speed with magically come to them without the use of rote memorization. This is something our school has chosen not to practice (i.e. flashcards with the third grade). Although this is not a stated prohibited activity as such in the Common Core, some teachers have interpreted them to mean just that. Many of the curriculum’s offered that are certified CCSS compliant are straying away from rote memorization of anything as the student is not truly understanding what they are doing, just spitting back the facts.

* The Letter Home…Need Flash Cards?

I received a letter from the third grade teachers asking me if I had flash cards to help them increase their speed with multiplication facts. This was due to the fact that all the students had done so poorly on the assessment. They would gladly provide them to me if I didn’t have any.

            Here we go again. It is up to us to teach them the basics where the curriculum has failed them. 

* The answer is obvious to me (and it appears that some other states agree (Governor Pence of Indiana is leaning toward this idea). 

CCSS seem to be relevant in the beginning of a new subject/concept, in this case multiplication. However, once the students “get it” the school has complied with the letter of the law. They must now take it upon themselves to teach it in any way the kids will be able to apply it, in order to move onto the next concept or standard. In this way they are still upholding the spirit of the law. In this case, that is the teaching them by rote memorization of the “times tables” for speed and accuracy before moving onto division.

* Further facts about the CCS I have uncovered.

* There are few books or materials available to these teachers that meet all of these CCSS requirements. Therefore, the teachers are having to come up with all the material on their own or are obtaining it online in order to comply with this law. This has led to numerous problems in the implementation of the standards.  Here are examples of Common Core aligned curricula in the classroom:


* Message from public school crossword puzzle: Conservatism ‘restricts personal freedoms’
By Kyle Olson  EAGnews.org
UNION GROVE, Wis. – Eighth-graders in Wisconsin’s Union Grove school district were assigned to fill out a “Liberalism vs. Conservatism” crossword puzzle, and they learned some new and very questionable “facts.”

     Students learned conservatism is “the political belief of preserving traditional moral values by restricting personal freedoms … ”

     Conversely, they learned liberalism is “the political belief of equality and personal freedom for everyone, often changing the current system to increase government protection of civil liberties.”

     The crossword puzzle was part of a civics assignment that was forwarded to EAGnews by Tamara Varebrook, a local conservative activist whose eighth-grade daughter received the lesson at Union Grove Elementary School yesterday.

     Varebrook said she posted the assignment on her Facebook page to share with other parents who might not be aware of the blatant political bias and effort at indoctrination, disguised as “civics.”

     “The definitions of conservatism and liberalism make me sick,” Varebook told EAGnews. “I think it’s horribly distorted and it’s biased.”

     Varebrook, who serves on her local Republican Party board and has appeared in commercials promoting conservative values, said she was particularly disturbed by the definition of conservatism as “restricting personal freedom.”

     “It’s insinuating conservatives don’t believe in people having civil liberties. That it’s only for old-fashioned fuddy-duddies,” Varebrook said. “That’s completely negative. It’s completely false.”

     Last time we checked, it’s the big government progressives who are determined to restrict personal freedoms. You know, the bans on sugary drinks, fatty foods, snacks at school lunch time, salt intake, etc.

     But apparently that’s not the case, according to Sunburst Visual Media, the puzzle’s producer, or the Union Grove school district.

     Varebrook said she doesn’t believe her daughter’s teacher is the problem, but rather the curriculum she’s forced to teach.

     “I don’t think her teacher is a radical indoctrinator, it’s the curriculum,” she said. “It’s not factual. Every piece of homework I’ve seen paints conservatism in a negative light.

     “I can only imagine what high school is going to bring.”

     On the back side of the crossword puzzle was a political survey students were required to fill out to identify their beliefs, something Varebrook believes is equally troubling.

     “It’s about guns, it’s about freedoms, it just goes on and on,” Varebrook said.

     Varebrook said her daughter is 13 years old, and likely has little interest in political philosophy.

     “She didn’t pick up on (the bias), she was just happy to get it filled out,” Varebrook said.

     Varebrook plans to email her daughter’s teacher about political bias in the assignment, but is skeptical of what good it will do.

     “My guess is most students got this done in class and didn’t bring it home,” Varebrook said. “I put it on my Facebook and people were just shocked.

From EAG news:

Union Grove crossword

        My daughter's fifth grade reading class was studying the book, "Guns for General Washington". (Prezi presentation attached).
       On her Day 3 study group guide page there were vocabulary words and then questions regarding Chapter 9. It was the first of these three questions that caught my attention.
        The question is regarding Paul Revere Jr. It asked my daughter the following:

Paul hated the British for making him feel weak and fearful. He also despised himself for giving in to those feelings. Describe a time when you had those feelings.
        My daughter came to me upset because she didn't know what to put down as she had never felt this way, but didn't want to lose points for not answering the question. I instructed her to put "I've never felt this way." And then, I attached a note stating that this question is not appropriate for school. You are forcing a child to create a traumatic experience in order to complete this assignment. This is best left to the psychologists. It is irrelevant to our history, social studies and her understanding of this book.
        The teacher replied, "Just want the students to make connections to the characters in the story." Really? A historical figure in a book about the revolutionary war….”Characters” and “Story” denote fiction to me.

Consider this excerpt from the

"Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century; U.S Department of Education (Feb. 2013)":

        How DATA may be collected:

        Along with DATA being collected from students Standardized Tests, there are additional measures as outlined in the (report) that may be used as well. They are as follows:
        ● SELF REPORT pg 35­37 : measures students attitudes, goals, emotions and beliefs, “for example, in the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), participants typically carry around a handheld device that “beeps” them at random intervals, prompting self­-report of experiences in that moment (e.g., Hektner, Schmidt, & Csikszentmihalyi, 2007). Such data can be used to make inferences about emotions, thoughts, and behaviors within and across specific situations.
        Having seen this, I realize this question was much more inappropriate than I originally thought. We have to read every question, every line, to be sure we don't miss any more examples of DATA MINING like this.

                                                               *  EXAMPLE THREE

        My oldest son took an example of DATA MINING through Self-Reporting last year in October while he was in 6th grade. This is only one of several examples that occurred last year. In this instance I went to  parent/teacher conference where they required my son to go along. Instead of meeting with the teachers, my son was told to show me through a folder of work he had on his desk and to explain it all to me. The teachers were present in the room and roamed from table to table to talk to various parents and students for a few seconds. In the folder was this form that my son explained they had to fill out in class. It asked him to rate himself in areas of self-direction, communication, discipline, work habits, etc. but there were specific questions on the back that were much more detailed. For example: “So far this year, I think I am doing well in...because?” and “I need to work harder in/on?” and guessing how they think teachers would describe them as a student.

(MEW note: Here is an explanation of the goal and procedures of a self-directed behavior exercise  from Sungard.  The link has disappeared detailing the precise examples.  I am including the blog's link in case it disappears so you can search for it in the archives:  http://blogs.sungard.com/ps_k12/category/bena-kallick/)  


        My son's seventh grade CCSS ELA assessment for poetry took DATA MINING through Self-Reporting to a whole new level. This assessment was to create a poem based on the following questions in support of the statement "Where I'm From"(MEW note: there are numerous templates for this particular poem and exercise on the the Internet).

        1. What special places to you go to spend time (e.g. fort, creek, etc.)?
        2. What games and/or activities fill your time?
        3. What are your family's traditions, holiday or otherwise?
        4. What is your family dynamic (e.g. the make-up of your family, etc.)?
        5. What is something you and/or your family take pride in?
        6. What is a family TRAGEDY and/or TRIUMPH that strengthened and/or challenged your family?
        Signs of the Time
        7. What candy, treats, and/or toys do you buy and/or are OBSESSED with?
        8. What is your favorite book or series?
        9. What is your favorite TV show?
        10. What is a saying or expression that adults or other kids use?
        11. How are your family memories ORGANIZED, SHOWCASED, KEPT, etc.?
        12. When and/or how are these memories ACCESSED?
        13. How do these memories SHAPE you?

        This assessment it should be noted was pulled from an internet site but the teacher said the example wasn't really how they wanted it to be done. It went into a form as shown below. Notice that if a child is very clever there are ways to evade the obvious attempt as extracting information, but it took a lot of effort. My son's particular teacher is not into computers or science, it should be noted.
    I am from my Grandma's one-story, white sided house
                from walks outside through the six acres of land
        I am from fireworks on the Fourth of July
                (explosions of ignited Li2CO3, CuCl2, and Beryllium raining gently to the ground of our field)
        I am from sitting inside reading about the past, present, and future
                about espionage, arenas in districts that don't exist, and starships that are real only in fiction
        I am from a 13" MacBook Pro with a 2.9 gigahertz processor
                from a PS3 and a PS2 slim, plenty of games between them
        I am from OMG and LOL
                from epic fail on emails, websites and forums
        I am from Katniss Everdeen fighting
                Alex Rider spying, and Captain Picard winning every time
        I am from my mother, father, brother, sister and an English Springer Spaniel
                from a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan SE with a 6-speed automatic 62TE transmission
                and a 3.6 liter V^ 24 valve VVT engine
        I am from the pictures on our computers filed neatly away in folders
                accessed with a click of the mouse displaying my life before me...

        If we hope to succeed at defeating this CCSS then we have to teach our children to be just as evasive, devious and clever as they are at denying them the very information they are trying to glean. This is not the type of education I had hoped for my children, but nonetheless it is their future and they must learn to navigate through it.

                                                                    *  EXAMPLE FIVE

        This example is how the seventh grade teachers dealt with the new CCSS ELA standards regarding the study of poetry. This had been a 6 – 9 week unit that was shrunk down to 9 DAYS! My son’s teacher was very upset with the shortened time frame (but my son and some of his friends who love to write but hate poetry, were gleeful) and his teacher had been out voted as to what poet they were going to study. I asked for her to state her position through me anonymously but she refused. This is common place as many are afraid of losing their jobs, teaching licenses, etc. Here is the unit and poet they were exposed to and my son and one of his classmates example at how to beat the system once again, as in the above example.

Excerpt from Poet’s Webpage

     Welcome! We all have poetry inside us, and I believe that poetry is for everyone, but can we recognize it when we hear it, in our students, and in ourselves? Whether you are a teacher, poet or child our challenge is to find the poetry all around us every day!         
     That's one of my goals when I teach poetry is to help every student find the poetry inside.
My New Book on Heart Mapping!    
Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School 

     Awakening the Heart explores how to cultivate the poet in every elementary and middle school student - through well-drawn examples, detailed exercises, creative projects, and down-to-earth classroom teachings.

     Ever since my book Awakening the Heart was first published, and I wrote about my idea of heart mapping, teachers, parents and students from all over the world have created heart maps and shared them with me. I'm now publishing a book about heart mapping with many beautiful examples included! I would love to publish your students' heart maps.

Please scan and email heart maps to: heard_georgia@​yahoo.com
or mail to:
Georgia Heard  -  2655 North Ocean Drive Suite #310F  -  Singer Island, FL 33404

(If you can -- please include a permission form with the student's name and address, parent or guardian's signature [signature], teacher's name, grade and school address, and any accompanying explanation, writing or poem)

     Heart maps can be created by writing, drawing, collage, photos, etc. Here are some questions that might inspire students:
What has really affected your heart?
What people have been important to you?
What are some experiences that you will never forget?
What happy or sad memories do you have?
What secrets have you kept in your heart?

How to Order Books: Check out Stenhouse.com to order Georgia's newest professional book A Place for Wonder: reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades (2009) and www.heinemann.com to order Georgia Heard's other professional books and www.amazon.com for Georgia's children's books. Also, to read more information about her latest book Climb Inside a Poem: Reading and Writing Poetry Across the School Year go to www.climbinsideapoem.com


Here is the assignment that the students received. They studied the poet for one day. Began to brainstorm about their “heart maps” on the second day, drew what they envisioned these heart maps to look like on the third day, then spent the remaining time working on writing, editing, and perfecting their “Heart Map Poems”. The last two days of the unit were spent sharing their poems in class.

Assessment Instructions (example of a "heart mapping" assessment attached):

Heart Mapping: Sharpening Your Inner Vision

“Keeping our hearts open is the work of poetry.”

     “Poets write from their hearts about what we deeply care about…I write my poems from memories of my families, of growing up next to a creek in Virginia, and of the people I meet in my travels.

     “It’s a poet’s job to know the interior of his or her heart.” One way of accessing those feelings is to map your heart. “We carry this heart map around all the time but how many of us know what it really looks like and what’s in it? Drawing a map of our heart helps make order out of what often feels like chaos and reveals the meanings behind the confusing emotions. And these meanings shine like gems that have been long buried.

     “…make a map of all the important things that are in your heart, all the things that really matter to you. You can put: people and places that you care about; moments and memories that have stayed with you; things you love to do, anything that has stayed in your heart because you care a lot about it.”

     Brainstorm what MIGHT go in the map in your heart – the things you truly care about. Consider:

-          “What has really affected your heart?  (my son answered HEMOGLOBIN)

-          What people have been important to you?

-          What are some experiences or central events that you will never forget?

-          What happy or sad memories do you have?

-          What secrets have you kept in your heart? (This is an obvious attempt to get them to give those secrets up for scrutiny…datamining….counseling…etc? My son wrote, “My blood is green.”  Sarcasm of course. Wonder where he gets that from?)

-          What small things or objects are important to you?

     My son brainstormed the following things:

“My grandma, mom/dad, his siblings,

my house (duh),

my friends (too long to list, oh well),

Lotus Exige inspired me 2b successful (so I can buy it),

Counselor Troi moments: (gma has cancer),

anti-Counselor Troi moments: (gma cured of cancer),

secrets: Screw that I’m not telling you – that’s why they are called “secrets”,

central events: going 2 new school,

Star Trek,

and my MAC – lol I put that on every one of these things.”

     Here is the final poem he turned in on the following page. He received all level 4’s on his rubric for this one.

     Another student wrote the following response to thumb their nose at the attempt to disclose personal information to the school. This student got all 4’s and one 3 for using a “Clich√©” in the last line. I disagree with this assessment and think it is what makes this poem work so well.

Rebellion of a Singularity

The room was an event horizon

sound and light

seeming to be lost indefinitely

The void paradoxically screamed

begging for attention

despite being nothingness.

Contrary to this vacuity

there is a tapping of footsteps

and like a firefly

in the depths of night

a photon escapes the grasp of the singularity

until a light ruptures the darkness.

The MacBook pro proudly boos

its screen a bright quadrilateral in the void

setting in motion

the buzzes and clicks of the CD-ROM drive

the hum of the start-up sound

and the initiation of back-lit keys.

Through eons of work

time proceeds at an accelerated rate

until the movie is complete

The video is rendered

and the finished product appears-

an incursion against the black hole…

At the range

Dad slowly places the case on the table

he opens it up with care

and lays down the weapon

explains how to use it as it sits there

I pick the gun up, load it, an aim

the gun steadily sat in my shoulder, as I wait to fire

I breathe out as I slowly pull the trigger

the bullet flew out of the chamber

the BANG of the bullet bounced off the walls

as the bullet traveled down the range

It impacted the target and ripped it apart

I looked to see where the target was hit

it was close to the middle, just a smidgen away

so I locked and loaded and fired away

     We must teach our children while we fight to repeal this dreadful Common Core nonsense, just how to defeat the system for now so as to not volunteer any information that is not their business in the first place and has nothing to do with their education. I feel these two show promise in that regard.

(MEW note.  Below is an example of a "heart map")



We will have more tales from the classroom about common core aligned curriculum within the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. "We must teach our children while we fight to repeal this dreadful Common Core nonsense, just how to defeat the system for now so as to not volunteer any information that is not their business in the first place and has nothing to do with their education."

    So, lie to the devil, or just not answer, or vaguely answer?
    All are justified to me in this case.
    Please respond to how to do this.

    My daughter is a Senior now. Can she still pull this off? I have always told her NOT to volunteer ANY personal information about herself or family.


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