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--- Reading (this sort of thing) is overrated. My fifth grade son (and I) just finished reading two books: "A View From Saturday" and "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy". It was a struggle for him because they use a common literary technique of telling a tale assuming that you know what's going on, but never giving you enough facts, or they explain things much later. "A View.." also jumped back and forth in time and changed the person who was "speaking". I suppose it's good for him to see common literary techniques, but to me, it seems like they are the only points to these books. The story gets lost. In "Lizzie Bright..." there is also a heavy moral tone and lots of fuzzy "meaningful" ideas, like touching the whale. There are also a lot of racism, bullies, death, and bad grownups. Real life, and the teacher is bound and determined to use these novels to make her points. Books that English teachers love - not fifth grade boys. How about an autobiography of Jackie Robinson? -- SteveH - 05 Dec 2006
The sentence is badly written and ambiguous. -- KDeRosa - 05 Dec 2006
A passage from Emma by Jane Austen has sparked some debate. Mr. Woodhouse was resigned. The time of year lightened the evil to him. May was better for every thing than February. Mrs. Bates was engaged to spend the evening at Hartfield, James had due notice, and he sanguinely hoped that neither dear little Henry nor dear little John would have any thing the matter with them, while dear Emma was gone. For all you sentence diagrammers out there, is it James hoping that neither Henry or John get ill while Emma is gone, or is it Mr Woodhouse, or is the sentence badly written? The full chapter is chapter 37 of Emma. -- TracyW - 05 Dec 2006
Thanks, Susan. I think Saxon does a good job explaining how to approach math, so I will definitely investigate their writing program. I didn't realize they had one. -- RobynW - 18 Nov 2006
Robin, Check Saxon (Hake) too. Catherine and I have the one that starts at 6th grade. It is very specific about how to approach writing assignments. I'm sure they have something for the younger grades. I also went to my local teacher store where they have a ton of writing stuff for every grade. I found a pretty decent book for my eldest. Those stores also sometimes cater to homeschoolers. -- SusanS - 17 Nov 2006
Thanks, Kathy, I'm going to look that up. -- RobynW - 17 Nov 2006
SRA has a direct instruction writing curriculum called "Expressive Writing." My daughter's sped class is using it. -- KathyIggy - 17 Nov 2006
Thanks, Doug, that's a good idea. I agree that it's easier to write about a specific topic. Unfortunately, our school doesn't assign specific topics. It tells kids which form to use when writing --- i.e, to write a story or write a narrative --- but otherwise, they're on their own. The school also doesn't send writing home on a regular basis, so parents are often not even aware that there's a problem. Writing homework is almost never assigned. My kids' problems with writing surprised me. I will follow your suggestion and try to generate ideas at home with them. However, I would love to find an alternative curriculum, like a Saxon-type, incremental approach to writing. I guess it doesn't exist. I know this has been discussed before on this site. -- RobynW - 17 Nov 2006
"It doesn't help that the writing program is very unstructured and open-ended." I suspect that to be the root of the problem. It is generally much harder to "write about something interesting" than it is to write about a specific topic. Perhaps, if your kids are likely to continue to have open-ended writing, you could work with your kids to figure out a few ideas at home and list them on cards for the next writing assignment. -- DougSundseth - 17 Nov 2006
Does anyone have a cure for "writer's block" in elementary school children? My kids are in second and fourth grades. They are good readers, and are okay with grammar and punctuation, but they have a hard time generating ideas for writing. They sit in class and write a few sentences and struggle to produce complete pieces. It doesn't help that the writing program is very unstructured and open-ended. My kids are shy and don't always like to share their thoughts. My son in particular is self-conscious. I think this contributes to his problems. Catherine, you once said you needed a KUMON type program for writing. I wonder if you ever found anything. I would appreciate any advice. -- RobynW - 17 Nov 2006
Hi Catherine/Carolyn, I was wondering if you have ever seen (have access to) a graphical representation of the BLOB? I'm looking for some kindof organization chart that depicts the education stakeholders that surround our children (Unions, Supt, Administration, Board, State, Govt, etc)? I've actually seen something like this in my Blog travels but I'll be dipped if I can find it again- Thanks Dee Hodson -- DeeHodson? - 16 Nov 2006
Anyone familiar with Accelerated Reader Program? Is this a good program to assess reading/vocabulary comprehension? --PV -- PaulaV - 03 Nov 2006
I'm interested in opening a KUMON franchise. Any info out there or personal experience? -- KtmGuest - 01 Nov 2006
How do you grade Kumon math homework? Do you time the whole booklet or each individual page? The reading homework...each indivdual page corrected or the whole booklet? My director was quite busy so I couldn't ask him. Last night was my son's first lesson and I'm wondering if I graded them incorrectly. Thanks! --PV -- PaulaV - 01 Nov 2006
http://www.tvw.org/MediaPlayer/Archived/WME.cfm?EVNum=2006100059&TYPE=V This is a long video, but it is excellent. My state desperately needs a group like this. -- LoneRanger - 25 Oct 2006
Does anyone know where I can get a teacher's edition of Geometry by Moise and Downs (1991)(ISBN 0201253364)? I've tried all the usual suspects online and have not had any luck so far. I saw some references to this book in 2005 entries in kitchentablemath. -- KtmGuest - 13 Sep 2006
We've just received the year's first "Message to the Parents" regarding the 5th grade math curriculum. It came as no surprise to me that in the spiralling curriculum tradition (MathLand), once again they are beginning the year with a unit on statistics. The students will conduct surveys of classmates on topics like "your favorite desert" or "should gym class be 30 minutes or 60 minutes" and graph the results. My question is this: does anyone have any thoughts about constructive ways to approach the individual teacher, or the school as a whole, to discuss moving on to something new, and not wasting time doing basically the same thing for the Nth year in a row? I'm so frustrated I want to scream, but I don't think that will get us anywhere. -- DaleA - 07 Sep 2006
MathPath? Summer Camp "Mathematics for the profoundly gifted in middle school and high school" "Advanced summer program for students who love math and entering grades 7 - 9 after the program" This year's MathPath is already over, but you can read about it for next year, and take the entrance exam [pdf]. -- GoogleMaster - 08 Aug 2006
Choosing a School: A Few Suggestions On a typical school tour, you are shown all the modern classroom buildings and shiny computers, you're told the school has an award from the federal department of education (eh?) and you get a nice, firm handshake from administrators. But none of this tells you anything about whether your child will learn how to decode unfamiliar words, how to multiply two-digit numbers without using a calculator, or to state the year the Civil War started. Here are just a few suggestions on evaluating schools for your children.
The School Tour In how many classrooms did you see actual teaching taking place, as opposed to seeing the kids working on a project, meeting in small workgroups, writing stories, doing a web search? Actually keep a count. You shouldn't expect (or want) to see teaching all the time in every class, but it should be a strong part of the children's day. Score extra points if you see teaching punctuated with lively teacher questions and student responses. Make a note of how desks are arranged in each classroom. Is every child's desk facing the teacher? Or, are desks bunched together so that children are in groups facing each other? Beware of schools that diminish the role of the teacher as the leader and instructor, and arrange classrooms so as to make group projects the principle activity. Look critically at the decorations in the classroom. You certainly expect that a classroom should be an inviting, welcoming place. But is it also reassuring, calming, and designed to assist children on focusing on the teacher and on their lessons? Or, are postings, decorations, colors, etc., so startling that distraction is a certainty? School Brochures The school will probably have a "Mission Statement" or a sheet such as "Our Philosophy." Usually, such documents tell you almost nothing useful about a school. Every once in a while, though, there is an exception (such as Flossmoor, Illinois). Get a copy of the school's curriculum outline, which should tell you what specific topics your child actually will be learning, for each individual grade and for each individual subject. (To get a sense of what a complete curriculum outline should look like, it's worthwhile to invest the $20 or so to get a copy of the Core Knowledge Sequence.) Reading Ask about the school's approach to teaching reading ... see if they mention phonics without your prompting. If they are enthusiastic about their "literature-based" program and don't mention phonics, you probably are at a whole language school. Also be cautious if they immediately start emphasizing their "balanced" approach. Look for "word walls" and other whole language hallmarks. What you need to know is the school's specific program for phonics. Which phonics technique is used? Is there a spelling workbook, and does it emphasize phonics letter-groups, or only thematic groups ("words about transportation")? Are all teachers expected to emphasize phonics, or does implementation depend on the tastes and experience of individual teachers? Writing Take note of displayed writing efforts. Do they have substantive topics or do they indicate an emphasis on "me" reflections? Is there a clear structure, or do they ramble? Do opinions stand alone, or are they supported by facts? Are grammar and spelling errors corrected? Literature Are assigned books challenging, uplifting and enriching? Or, does there seem to be an excessive emphasis on gritty, dire social problems and politically-correct heavy issues? Have your heard of the assigned books, or are they mostly less challenging books with recent copyright dates? Is a healthy mix of non-fiction included in assigned reading? Look to see if books are available that have strong, positive characters of the same gender as your child. Math First, check our Math-By-District page. At the school, ask to see the math textbooks used, and write down the full name of the publisher and the specific name of the program (publishers often sell several very different series). If there is no textbook, there will be worksheets or other materials: you can get the publisher and program names from these, often written in small text on the bottom or along the side. Then, back at home, go to our web page on math to find reviews of that program. Consider whether the emphasis in these books or materials is on political correctness and flashy graphics, or on math. Visit the local Kumon center, or other afterschool tutoring service, and ask them about the district's math program. Science Do the school officials emphasize learning content in science, or do they only talk about "hands-on experiments" and "discovery"? Active involvement is good, but it always should be designed in support of educational content goals. What is the school's guiding document on what science content is to be learned? Are a broad range of science areas covered in depth, or is there an unbalanced skew towards just a few areas, such as animals or rainforests? Social Studies What topics are taught in history and geography in grades 1, 2 and 3? A progressivist school offers very little substance in these areas before grades 4 or 5, offering instead such limited topics as map-reading skills, "my neighborhood", pioneer and Indian life, and a mere handful of disconnected historical figures. A good school will teach kids how to learn and feed their natural desire to learn by giving them substantive, interesting content in both history and geography. In upper grades, look to see how they cover the history of Europe and western civilization. Many schools suffice with some thin coverage in a single year, and a startling number of schools jump from ancient civilizations directly to American history, with scant coverage of anything in between. As one quick but powerful measure, try The Napoleon Test, which many schools will fail! Scheduling Does the school use any double-length periods (block scheduling)? This almost guarantees that the school is run by progressivists. The long periods make it all but impossible for a teacher to use traditional instruction, and all-too-often the time gets filled with movies, projects and activities rather than learning. "Technology" The link between learning and having computers in a school is tentative at best. Do not be easily swayed by dazzling, "curb-appeal" attractions like computer labs. (Conversely, do not be dismayed if a school seems to be more committed to teaching than in loading up on expensive hardware.) Instead, ask what the kids are actually doing with all these computers. Are they learning about the technology itself and about how a computer operates, perhaps going so far as to dissassemble old computers to study their workings? Or, is there a lot of vague talk about web "research", creating presentations, or "infusing" classwork with "technology"? And while you're being shown all the new computers, check for proven past "technology" as well: does every classroom have a TV and VCR? If a school has shiny computers in every class but a teacher needs a special requisition for a TV to make a point with a short video, then something is wrong with the priorities. Choice You'll start your child in a school with the best of hopes. But suppose that someday you find that the school is not what you hoped for, or just in general, that your child isn't prospering. Or, you might discover that your two children have quite different learning styles and need schools with differing approaches. Would you have to move just to get a better school? So, find out what choices are available. What is the district's policy on registering your children at another school in the district? Do they use "open enrollment", or are you required to send your kids to the school they assign you to? Are there any charter schools? If choice is allowed, it is a meaningful choice: are curriculum decisions made by individual schools, or by the district? Is it possible to register at schools in adjoining districts? Values, Character and Discipline Pay full attention as you tour the school. Are children corrected when they interrupt? Is swearing tolerated? Do you see anyone holding doors for anyone else? Do students seem to be wandering the hallways between classes? Are lower grade classes chaotic free-for-alls, or does it look like learning is occurring? Look into the junior high level classes: are students actively engaged but also courteously and attentively listening? What is the penalty for not doing homework? Is there one? Look at posted artwork -- is it generally in good taste? How are students dressed: appropriately, or anything goes? Consider visiting at least one Catholic, Lutheran or other values-centered private school if only to calibrate your expectations.
Copyright 2006, The Illinois Loop. All Rights Reserved. Home Page Site Map Contact Us -- LoneRanger - 12 Jun 2006
What Susan said. The response was entirely an ad hominem and didn't address your argument at all. I might suggest that this is because the responder had no ability to address your argument. ("If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither is on your side, pound on the table.") Also, there are certainly schools with very high percentages of Hispanic kids that do well, and the evidence points to the school's curriculum. See Joanne Jacobs's book for a case study. Nor is that school alone; one school we thought about putting our son in* would also qualify as a case study. Both the school and the district are heavily Hispanic, but Valley View was teaching those kids. * Valley View Elementary in Adams County, Colorado. Take a look at the "Free and reduced lunch" numbers and compare that school to the state average or the district average. (In the end, we chose to go with a different school because the principal was changing and the new principal was spending her time talking about all the things she was planning to change at the school.) -- DougSundseth - 15 May 2006
Hey Lone Ranger, I don't really have a snappy comeback, but wouldn't you profit more as a tutor by saying absolutely nothing? I would think just sitting back and letting the school continue to shoot itself in the foot with all of its excuses would be the way to go if you were truly motivated by money. By offering up a way for the school to reform itself it seems more likely that you could very well put yourself out of business. -- SusanS - 15 May 2006
HELP!!!! I need the great minds of KTM to come to my rescue and help me write a clever come back to our local paper. You see, I wrote a letter to the editor in a response to said editor’s opinion that our district’s poor showing on the recently released state reading exam for third grade were due to the Hispanic students in our district. This editor and our district love to place the blame on the kids, especially the hispanic children, instead of looking at poor instructional practices. Our district has 47% Hispanic kids. In my letter I highlighted a study just published by the Center for the Future of Arizona & Morrison Institute for Public Policy titled, "Why Some Schools with Latino Children Beat the Odds and Others Don't". (www.asu.edu/copp/morrison/LatinEd.pdf). My letter included this quote: “No Excuses: Don't even think about playing a blame game when students aren't learning. Have strength to look at the problem and take responsibility.
Is there a way to make our email addresses private, or accessible only to logged-in users? KTM is the first and only place I have ever used this particular address, and I got spam addressed to it yesterday. This means the robots have access.
Hello, your e-mail address [my address deleted] , has been taken from the open sources. My name is [spammer's name deleted]. I am the main manager of Web Click Company. We are engaged in software developing and design. The main office of our Company is located in Lithuania. We are searching for employees to work in our company worldwide. If you wish to have additional income from 4000 to 10 000 dollars a month, working from your house this offer is for you. The choice of vacancies is huge (designers, managers, auditors, financiers). We will offer you the best conditions to work. Also if you own a company or if you are managing director of the company we offer you to cooperation with us. Please do not reply to this letter. Send your contact data and your CV to this e-mail: [throwaway spammer address deleted] - it is our temproary e-mail. [my address deleted] sorry for possible disturbance-- GoogleMaster - 10 May 2006
Does anyone have to hand a reference for the increase in US real spending on education per student for the last few decades (or whatever)? I want it for a book review, where the author just tosses off a reference to under-funded American schools. The idea that all schools need is more funding is a problem in NZ too. -- TracyW - 27 Apr 2006
hey! i've completely missed the conversation here! off for the weekend - back on Monday, & will read! -- CatherineJohnson - 14 Apr 2006
Hello Dee: Did you see this? The Wright Group: Growing With Mathematics http://www.wrightgroup.com/index.php/programlanding?isbn=L000000002 This is interesting because The Wright Group used to publish MathLand - the worst of the worst and banned in California. Even The Wright Group dropped it and wiped it off the face of their web site. It's also interesting because they have been bought out by McGraw?-Hill who also pushes Everyday Math. Growing With Mathematics (Pre-K - 5th grade) overlaps with Everyday Math. I would have to search around a little to see if they distinguish between the two programs. From their web site: "Growing with Mathematics is a core mathematics program that is appropriate for all PreK? - 5 student populations. The mathematical content and sequence of the program, and the teaching methods it promotes, were determined through extensive field testing and in-depth research. Growing with Mathematics equips students with a variety of thinking strategies they can use to solve problems effectively and confidently. The program addresses NCTM standards and is recognized by the National Science Foundation as a research-based curriculum. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes Growing with Mathematics as a promising program." Need I say more? How about this from their 3rd grade course: "Facts and Basic Skills In third-grade, students are introduced to the meanings of and relationship between multiplication and division. Students develop a strong conceptual understanding of multiplication and division as they model problems with pictures, arrays, and manipulatives." They are: "introduced to meanings of and relationships between" "develop a strong conceptual understanding" "model problems with pictures, arrays, and manipulatives" They apparently don't learn to DO anything. They are introduced, but not taught, They develop concepts, but don't use them. They model problems, but don't solve them. This sounds like a renamed MathLand that is even worse than Everyday Math. This is from the other part of their web site: "Everyday Mathematics is a rigorous PreK?-6 curriculum used across the country. It is scientifically research-based and proven to build students' mathematical knowledge from the basics to higher-order thinking and critical problem solving." I guess Growing With Mathematics is NOT RIGOROUS. I would have to agree with that. However, Everyday Math is adequate ONLY IF it is carefully supplemented. And, if you have to supplement it, then why not use something better in the first place? By the way, one of the developers of EM says that it is not for the elite. I would extend that to any child who wants to get on the college prep math track in high school. Of course, this means that one can tell who is elite or not when they start one of these programs in first grade. -- SteveH - 14 Apr 2006
Hi Catherine- I totally love your site! Please keep posting, I learn so much and enjoy your musings. My disrtict, and the neighboring distric, in Connecticut uses Growing with math. I can't seem to find any reviews or info about this curriculum- Ive tried many of the usual places (Illinois loop, Mathematically Correct, NYCHold) but come up dry. Have you, or you posters come across any more info on this program? Thanks Dee -- DeeHodson? - 14 Apr 2006
Thank you Doug. I'll give it a go. -- TracyW - 05 Apr 2006
OK, I'm home, so some suggestions: As Susan noted, Strunk and White is excellent; solid, practical advice in an unintimidating short book. The first subject in my edition is, "Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's". Rule 17: "Omit needless words". I'd recommend it as a basic guide. For a more-English take, you might try The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, 3rd Ed). It's longer, and denser, but still solid, practical advice. Some prefer earlier editions, which run to the more prescriptive and idiosyncratic, but I disagree. I can't find my copy around for quotes, sorry. I rather like Theodore M. Bernstein's Dos, Don'ts, & Maybes of English Usage. More of a reference than a teaching tool, though. I wouldn't recommend Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves as a general reference. It's an entertaining, book-length rant, and I don't mind having bought it, but it's a bit weak when as actual grammar advice. -- DougSundseth - 05 Apr 2006
What's worked for (and on) me is good editing, and the gradual identification of systematic errors. Each time you work with a new document, identify the one or two biggest systematic problems in the writing and point them out as systematic problems at the same time as you are correcting all of the other, lesser, problems. Thanks. I was freaking a bit because of the level of problems. No human being can write a paper while explicitly thinking about the sheer number of things my coworker is getting wrong. It's really brought home to me the importance of teaching and correcting grammar, punctuation and word use in stages so a lot of this becomes automatic. I think I might also resort to telling my co-worker to run the grammar checker on the papers. It's bad, but at least it will pick up on seriously incomplete sentences. One, they are technical people; two, for many of them, English is their second (or third or more) language. We're talking about someone with a arts degree who is as Kiwi as me. -- TracyW - 05 Apr 2006
Uh, speaking of apostrophes, I had a weird one in there, but I've corrected it. -- SusanS - 04 Apr 2006
I work with a lot of people who, when it comes to writing, have two strikes against them already. One, they are technical people; two, for many of them, English is their second (or third or more) language. Many of them went to British-based schools and so grew up speaking and writing English, but some of them did not. Many of the native English speakers are horrible at spelling and grammar. Some of their mistakes are quite obvious to me, so it's hard for me to tell whether they don't know their writing is bad or don't think it matters. -- GoogleMaster - 04 Apr 2006
"How do you train a co-worker how to write?" With great effort. (Sorry, I really don't mean that to be flip.) What's worked for (and on) me is good editing, and the gradual identification of systematic errors. Each time you work with a new document, identify the one or two biggest systematic problems in the writing and point them out as systematic problems at the same time as you are correcting all of the other, lesser, problems. With luck, the incidence of those problems will drop in future documents and you can then move on to correct less important problems. (I intend to address your earlier posts here today, but I don't have some of my grammar and writing books with me at work. I'll try to get to the questions when I get home tonight.) -- DougSundseth - 04 Apr 2006
Hey Tracy, I keep thinking of the old Strunk and White Elements of Style that has been updated. It's tiny, but it's all there. Or a good used college freshman text. We talked earlier about the Air Force Writing manual. My dad had an old one, but it looks straightforward, simple and to the point. -- SusanS - 04 Apr 2006
I know I put my first boss through a lot of pain, but I swear my writing was not this bad in my first serious job. How do you train a co-worker how to write? -- TracyW - 04 Apr 2006
After reading references to the Number 2 Pencil blog, I finally wandered over there last night, where I found a link to a site about cheating. It had links to several amazing articles, including one about Indian students using high-tech clothing to cheat and wholesale classroom-wide cheating at USC. Who rears these children? Where did they (not) get their sense of right and wrong? -- GoogleMaster - 04 Apr 2006
I don't just need a reference on use of apostrophes. I need a whole "how to write" course. Including correct word use and grammar. -- TracyW - 04 Apr 2006
Anyone know a good reference material for the use of apostrophes? -- TracyW - 04 Apr 2006
I know we've discussed this topic before, but I'm too lazy right now to look for the right place to put it. Brains Of Very Smart Kids Mature Later All about the thickening of the cerebral cortex in very smart kids vs smart kids vs average kids. -- GoogleMaster - 30 Mar 2006
I went to grad school in Louisiana. Louisiana's public schools are absolutely appalling. -- CarolynJohnston - 24 Mar 2006
This isn't math, but reading, but it's still horrifying. I had heard how bad the NOLA schools were, but here are some objective numbers. (I can never remember whether click2 requires registration) http://www.click2houston.com/education/8216955/detail.html
Katrina Refugees Score Worse Than Texas Youngsters POSTED: 5:54 pm CST March 23, 2006 Young Hurricane Katrina refugees living in Texas scored considerably worse on a statewide standardized exam than Texas children, and thousands of them could be held back. Teachers and state officials blame the low scores on New Orleans' poor school system, the trauma of being abruptly uprooted from their homes, and the possibility that some of them were put in the wrong grade after arriving in Texas with no records. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, a test of reading and math ability, was given in February to third- and fifth-graders, who must pass in order to move up to the next grade. About 38,000 Katrina evacuees are enrolled in Texas schools. Only 58 percent of evacuees in third grade passed the reading portion, compared with 89 percent of all students. In fifth grade, 46 percent of evacuees passed the reading portion, versus 80 percent among all students. "We've got kids who are coming into our secondary system and cannot read," Houston school board member Larry Marshall said. "Now that is a tragedy." Between the two grades, about 2,000 refugees failed. Students who failed will have two more opportunities to pass the test this spring, but some worry the learning gap is too wide to close. " Unfortunately a lot of the children came to us two and three years behind. It's going to be a struggle for a lot of them to catch up," said Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe. At New Orleans West, a Houston charter school that opened exclusively for evacuees, the scores were even lower. Twenty-one percent of fifth-graders and 30 percent of third-graders passed. About 10 percent of students in both grades are illiterate, Principal Gary Robichaux said. Robichaux, who hopes around 50 percent of his students will pass by the second try, mostly blamed the low scores on the disparity between New Orleans education standards and those in Texas. ...Great, so he'll be pleased if he gets a 50% passing rate. -- GoogleMaster - 24 Mar 2006
Have you seen: http://www.publicagenda.org/research/pdfs/rc0601.pdf -- KtmGuest - 18 Feb 2006
In our continuing quest to not pay private school tuition, my wife and I have been investigating local schools. The good charter schools mostly have waiting lists or lotteries (which we are getting on/in), so we've also been looking at in-district (regular) public schools. The only one we've found that seems good uses "Back to Basics" as a curriculum, and is getting really good results with a low-SES student body (39% free/reduced price lunch). I know nothing about "Back to Basics" and was wondering if anyone knew enough to comment. TIA -- DougSundseth - 03 Feb 2006
Start a page on the Unschooling movement. http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/01/27/gutierrez.unschooing/index.html?section=cnn_topstories My favorite quote: Nailah, who would be in 4th grade if she attended a regular school, seems to enjoy the "unschooled" lifestyle, even if she's a bit confused when asked what exactly she is learning. "I actually don't know what I'm learning," Nailah said. "I think I'm just having a good time." -- GoogleMaster - 02 Feb 2006
btw....I just read, this week, some very favorable data (was it data?) on ALEKS, which I think was the same program Parent Pundit liked. I'll try to find the link, but thought I'd get this in here. found it It's actually a comment from a dad who's fed up with the school curriculum, & whose son was a homework-loser big-time. He thinks ALEKS is fantastic. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Jan 2006
The following is from the What Works Clearinghouse. Intervention: I CAN Learn® Education Systems Developer: JRL Enterprises, Inc. More Information Brief Description Interactive Computer-Aided Natural Learning (I CAN Learn®) is an education software system that delivers algebra and pre-algebra courses to middle and high school students. Universities and community colleges are also adopting the I CAN Learn® system for remedial and developmental math programs. The I CAN Learn® curriculum is designed for students to work at their own pace in a classroom with a one-to-one ratio of students to computers. Each interactive lesson uses the direct instruction method and includes a pretest, review, lesson presentation, guided practice, and posttest. Also included are cumulative reviews, real-world applications, and cumulative tests to determine retention. According to the publishers, the I CAN Learn® curriculum incorporates national and state performance standards, and can be configured to meet state and local Grade Level Expectations (GLEs). [Ed. Apparently, if you have a one-on-one student/computer ratio, then direct instruction with "pretest, review, lesson presentation, guided practice, and posttest" is OK. Is this what they call 21st century learning? Without teachers?] . . . . . The WWC has examined 77 studies of interventions for Middle School Math Curricula to date. 1 study on I CAN Learn® Education Systems that meets evidence standards 2 studies on I CAN Learn® Education Systems that meet evidence standards with reservations 4 studies on I CAN Learn® Education Systems that do not meet evidence screens 1 study on I CAN Learn® Education Systems is currently in review [Ed. Only one out of 7 reviewed studies met evidence standards, but they get a lot of mileage out of that one. Presumably, it was good evidence. If they keep trying, they might get two.] -- SteveH - 27 Jan 2006
Steve, did you check out the what works clearinghouse? I haven't lately, but as of a few months ago they'd published their results on math interventions at the middle school level. -- CarolynJohnston - 26 Jan 2006
Does anyone know about I CAN LEARN www.icanlearn.com Interactive Computer Aided Natural Learning Their web site says that they have met the evidence standards for the What Works Clearinghouse Details are pretty thin on their web site. -- SteveH - 26 Jan 2006
Here's an illuminating article describing ways to make scientific writing more understandable. I suspect that much of it is also applicable to other non-fiction writing, and since clear expository writing has been mentioned I thought it would be useful. The Science of Scientific Writing -- AndyLange - 10 Jan 2006
Just came upon this letter posted on another list. Thought you all might enjoy this alternative approach. ********************************************** Here's something I post occasionally on other lists I am on when the subject of math comes up, but I don't think I've posted it here.
Your blog is amazing- I wish I knew about it before tonight. If you were going to supplement your child's 3rd grade math curriculum, which program would you suggest, Kumon, Saxon or Singapore? thanks -- KtmGuest - 08 Dec 2005
Hi Catherine and Carolyn, on the recent subject of worksheets, and why they are necessary, and what constructivist curricula do in lieu of worksheets, I'd like to scan some bingo instructions from the TERC student workbook so that you can have it available for reference on this site. Where and how? Are there copyright issues? Where should it go? In the compare/contrast section, or elsewhere? And, Carolyn asked what I found useful as a visitor to KTM, and I can honestly say that your list of ten(?) things parents can do, should perhaps be brought to the front and right of the home page. It's as if this blog seeks to have a political effect derived from its practical effect. Keep hammering away on the practical effect. Practically, we empower individual parents by telling them again and again: you're going to have to study elementary math yourself and teach your kids comprehensively, or you're going to have to pay someone else to do it. Either way, it's just like teaching reading and writing: you can't leave it up to chance. Thanks! -- BeckyC - 02 Dec 2005
Do you have any thoughts about McDougal?-Littell's Algebra 1? ISBN 0-395-97722-3. Strongly recommended by Mathematically Correct, but additional opinions would be good. My son's doing Saxon Algebra Half now, 6th-grade, and his school plans to use Saxon Algebra 1 next year for 7th-grade. Do you have any thoughts about which book is better, and why? Many thanks. Ragnarok -- KtmGuest - 23 Nov 2005
Have you ever heard/experienced Understanding Math?? -- SmartestTractor - 15 Nov 2005
I would like to send a "Compare and Contrast" piece to our local newspaper containing a problem from 5th grade Everyday Math. Can anyone give me a problem from Everyday Math similar to the ones already on the compare and contrast thread found here on KTM? -- LoneRanger - 10 Nov 2005
Thanks DanK? and SusanS? for your comments. DanK?, Yes, I am using timed tests for addition and subtraction, and I use multiplication fact worksheets for drill, though I don't ususually time them. We are just now moving into timed multiplication tests with Saxon. SusanS?, I have read "The Well Trained Mind" and I just revisited her suggestions for scheduling. An hour a day for math seems pretty typical for what most other homeschoolers I know are doing. I am leaning towards getting Singapore and supplementing with it. Some of my friends who use Saxon with their kids just have the child work every other problem. I've been having my sons do every problem, and, as I commented earlier, it takes them about an hour. I don't want them to get overwhelmed by having an hour and a half of math every day, so I guess I would have to cut out some of the practice problems in Saxon. -- DianeAustin - 02 Nov 2005
My older son knows his multiplication facts through 12s pretty well. My younger son is shakier on these and hasn't learned sixes, eights and twelves. I haven't homeschooled, so I feel a little uncomfortable commenting...but only a little. I just wanted to ask if you were testing the multiplication (and, for that matter, addition) facts with timed tests. I'm pretty sure that timed fact tests are part of the Saxon school curriculum. It seems to be a consensus opinion here at KTM that these facts must be mastered to the point of automaticity. I certainly agree, and have found any lack of automaticity to be a major hindrance as students try to move forward. -- DanK - 02 Nov 2005
Hi Diane, A homeschooler friend of mine once told me that many homeschoolers use both Singapore and Saxon at the same time. I'm presently using Saxon as the core supplement curriculum for my public school child, but I add Singapore problems to whatever chapter I'm on. Singapore's word problems are better than any of the other books I've seen because they start with one and two steps and move up to 4+ steps by their level 5. I don't know if you've seen The Well Trained Mind book, but it has an easy to follow schedule for homeschooling all subjects throughout the years of your child. You might get some ideas of how much to do from there. Since I'm an "after-schooler," as they call me, I haven't ever looked closely at the way they set up the teaching schedule, but it looks fairly thorough. -- SusanS - 02 Nov 2005
Is Saxon plus Singapore too much? I found this site several weeks ago and I LOVE IT! I started homeschooling my two sons last year after taking them out of public school. I have been using Saxon math. Last year they were in second and third grade and I had them in Saxon 2 and 3. This year, I have them both in Saxon 5/4. I like the Saxon program because it seems to be very thorough and they have plenty of practice. Neither I nor they are very strong in mental math and I have wondered about supplementing Saxon with Singapore Math. I'd like some advice on this. Would it be overkill? To let you know about where they are now: It takes them about an hour a day to do their math lessons. They are at lesson 28 in Saxon. (It's all pretty much review--nothing they haven't had before.) They have had four tests and have done well on all of them. (They both scored 100 percent on the first three.) My older son knows his multiplication facts through 12s pretty well. My younger son is shakier on these and hasn't learned sixes, eights and twelves. I tried giving them the Singapore 3a placement test and they just couldn't do it. I started giving them the Singapore 2a placement test and they are handling that fine (though with a lot of complaints because they have to THINK about what to do in the word problems.) They both like to have me walk them through problems instead of making a stab at it on their own. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me. Diane -- DianeAustin - 02 Nov 2005
It's not just us... http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17020332%255E7583,00.html -- LoneRanger - 26 Oct 2005
OK, guys, I need some help here. As you all know, I am getting together a presentaion for the new principal of our elementary school about my 'concerns' about EM So here is my question: The only algorithim taught for long division is a partial quotient division method. (Also called forgiving division) There is a post which illustrates this method. After studying this method, I have come to this conclusion: it only gives reliable and definite answers if you are dividing a whole number by a whole number. If you divide a fraction or a number with a decimal point, the modification that you have to make is as follows: 1. Make a magnitude estimate of the quotient. 2. If there is a decimal point, ignore it. Divide the numbers. 3. Use your magnitude estimate to place the decimal point in the final answer. (EM 5th grade pg 113) So for 7/8, you make a magnitude estimate that the answer is going to be less than 1 (right?) Then you write the long division symbol with 8 on the outside and 7 on the inside. And now you are stuck because no matter what you multiply 8 by, it is more than 7 and you can't subtract. Or take the problem on page 187: 300.007/5. I estimate the magnitude to be about 60. Now I divide 5 into 300007. Only I end up with a remainder of 2. Now I'm stuck. Am I right here, or does is there a further modification out there that directs the students to add zeros onto the number and keep going? Thanks. This principal used to teach 5th grade so I am looking forward to asking her how she handled teaching math to students that could not multiply or divide. Also, I am interested to hear how she handled this problem. -- AnneDwyer - 23 Oct 2005
http://www.freep.com/news/education/hsreform21e_20051021.htm Take a look at this. -- LoneRanger - 22 Oct 2005
Educationnews.org has highlighted Barry's Trespassers in Wonderland piece today. -- LoneRanger - 10 Oct 2005
Nuts and bolt help for my 8 year old daughter for all you math experts....So, we are working in book 4A in Singapore Math and are learning about fractions of a set. We move into problems such as 2/3 of 27. She can easily build this problem with beads or draw it so we move on to the the algorithm. My daughters asks me why 27 can be written as 27 over 1 and I am stumped. I cannot figure out how to "show " her like I can with improper fractions or mixed numbers. I told her it is a division problem but she wasn't ready to understand that. Any ideas? TIA -- LoneRanger - 09 Oct 2005
I wasn't sure where to put this ...but, there is hope! http://www.spectrum.newmilford.com/story.php?id=65114 -- LoneRanger - 25 Sep 2005
Hi v, You do make a very good point. I do think you have to be much more careful with a mathematically precocious child then with your good ole' regular all-arounder. I say this because I've seen my math kid literally become depressed if too much time is spent (whether from me or his teachers) on drilling or rote. It looks different than boredom. As soon as he learns a concept (which tends to be almost immediately)he's miserable about the second time he's asked to repeat it. He does not mind, however, applying it and so I'm learning to hunt down more creative ways of getting him to "drill" things that he is not quite anchored in. It would be easy to say that he doesn't need it because he gets it, but right before school started (he's a 5th grader going into 7th grade algebra) I had him do a word problem. Normally he shows no work and just puts down the answer (he's usually right so I don't feel I can get him on the "show your work" thing) but this time he worked out a simple 2 digit problem by pencil. He didn't move the partial products over. I know he just forgot, but I was horrified since he will be scrutinized more closely at school because of his age. Still, I just did a reminder and figured that if it happened again we'd look at practice. My struggling child, however, has been drilled to death, and from the look of it you would think we were torturing him. However, we just started long division (he is an 8th grader, mind you) and he totally got it and did all parts of it with ease. He gave me the most astonished look. "Is that right?" he kept saying. It was. He kept doing it and it kept being right. To the LD child, division is the ultimate betrayal. To have to manage that minefield is just painful to many of them. Precision errors occur 10 times more with them than with other kids, so working what was to him a giant problem and making no errors on top of it was just amazing to him. It may seem silly, but I have more pride in that moment than just about anything either child has done. So, I think each child is different for sure and you do have to be careful not to rob your child of the love of his gift. Unfortunately, with certain schools, they might be actually robbing them of the ability to even use that gift. -- SusanS - 08 Sep 2005
pure brute personal prejucice:
timed "drill"s are tools of the devil. when i was the second-best in a class
of very bright 6th grade students i deliberately
played "dumb" and performed very slowly
when confronted with "work as many problems
as you can in the allotted time"-style assessments. why get beat by people who, though i knew 'em
(and even, like as not, loved 'em), i took
for granted -- and for good reasons -- weren't
in any sense my peers in (what i later learned
to call) mathematical maturity? now. maybe timed drills are a good thing overall.
there i was, a couple standard deviations
above the mean ... admittedly not *obviously*
useful or interesting anecdotal evidence
if the question is "how are we to treat *most*
students" ... indeed, by my own lights,
i should'vee probably keep my mouth shut, since
it has long since occured to me that too much
importance is given (in fora like this) to
the exeptional (in either direction)
at the expense of the average.
what am i getting at precisely?
as usual, your guess is as good as mine.
my guess? okay, this: please don't become the problem:
kids know (as it were) intinctively when
we're trying to understand 'em and when
we're just flat-out trying to push 'em around.
they come to us equipped by nature with mountains
of trust and good faith. mess with these
assets if you feel you must -- but understand
in the process that you can never have 'em back
(after you've betrayed 'em )at any price. i do quite realise -- it sounds like i'm getting
all "fuzzy" on you. so be it.
the kids are alright. -- KtmGuest - 08 Sep 2005
Thanks, Anne. That helps immensely. --Brenda -- KtmGuest - 06 Sep 2005
Brenda, In your post about math drills, it seems that you have raised two different issues. So I will tackle one at a time. 1. Speed drills. IMO, speed drills are used to make sure that your child has actually memorized the facts and is not still counting on her fingers or in her head. If your daughter can orally answer 30 problems in one minute, then she has memorized those math facts. She is only 6. So if her motor skills are too slow to do the drill but she knows the facts, then don't stress her out by making her write them. 2. Children need to know one digit addition and subtraction within 18 (i.e. from 0+1 up to 9+9). Everything else follows from these facts. Some kids need a lot of practice at each level. Some children just fly right through each level. I would start with a sheet that has 30 problems. If you have a problem generator, make them all easy (within 10). If in one or two tries, she gets them all, then move her up to the next level. When you have finished addition, tackle subtraction. -- AnneDwyer - 06 Sep 2005
Do you any of you have a favorite math drill approach? We do triangle flash cards, and play Math-It once in a while. I have software to create worksheets, but my 2nd-grade daughter is practically allergic to speed drills. I've been letting her do them un-timed to help her confidence, but any time I try to time her, she gets very stressed out. She's just so slow in her motor skills. I keep telling her that if she would just write a single line for the number "1" instead of adding the serifs, she'd be a speed demon. For example, last week I gave her 90 seconds to do 20 addition problems (sums up to 10). She finished 12 of them (got only one wrong). She can't seem to do 20 in less than 2:25. I've heard that in Saxon 2 the drills are 25 facts in 1 minute or 100 facts in 5 minutes, but at what level of accuracy can you move on? I try to cut her some slack, since she's only six, but she understands the concepts and her memory in other areas is usually good. I'm getting discouraged because I'm not sure how much should be automatic for her at this point, and I suspect that my approach to tackling the fact families has been haphazard enough to cause her problems. I want our math fact drill time to be much more productive than it seems to be. It feels like we're going in circles. Should it feel this difficult? Some people advocate teaching the doubles first (3+3, 4+4, etc.); Math-It teaches the 9+X facts first ("subtract one from the other number and say 'teen'"), and our Kumon workbook starts with X+1. I don't know which is the most effective, but doing all three can't be wise. (Duh.) At this point, I'm going to have her finish the Kumon workbook, then possibly move on to Calculadders. If that doesn't help, I may have to supplement with Rod & Staff. But in my shoes, what would you do? TIA for any advice you have. --Brenda -- KtmGuest - 06 Sep 2005
Can someone give me a quick definition, history, and explanation of "new math"? I thought I understood what it was, and the things I've read here recently confirm that. However, I'm taking "Math for Elementary Teachers" right now, and my teacher's definition seems to be completely different. Can someone enlighten me? -- AndyJoy - 29 Aug 2005
Carolyn--here are requests I'm gleaning from various readers:
I think it would be nice to have a math problem page. For the first problem, I suggest the following: Think of a good story problem for the math sentence 2 and 1/4 divided by 4/5. (two and a quarter divided by four fifths?) People could post interesting problems they have found, or could post problems which seem to give particular trouble to their kids. -- KtmGuest - 14 Jul 2005
Good Evening Everyone! Have any of you ever worked with Borenson's Hands on Equations? This program is a visual and kinesthetic teaching system for introducing algebraic concepts to students in grades 3 to 8. I'd like to hear what you think of the program. http://www.borenson.com/index.html Thanks! -- LoneRanger - 11 Jul 2005 Hi Lone Ranger--I have seen this before, but I have no idea what it is or whether or how well it works. Anybody else? Catherine
Mathematically Correct is usually reliable. I have seen Algebra 1 and 2 by Larson, Boswell and Stiff, so it sounds like Passport to Algebra/Geometry is something different and I haven't seen it. The "C" they gave to Passport to Mathematics is probably like the "C" they gave to Everyday Mathematics. It means there are some good things in it, but overall it doesn't do a good job. I would agree with the EM grade. There are many more horrendous texts out there (like Math Trailblazers) than EM. But EM certainly has its problems. As does Passport to Mathematics. -- BarryGarelick - 06 Jul 2005
Mathematically Correct has given Passport to Mathmatics, Book 2 a "C". I don't know how Book one compares to Book 2. Also Mathematically Correct has given Passport to Algebra/Geometry an "A". These were being reviewed as 7th grade texts. There is no rating for P. to M. Bk. 1. Are you of the opinion that Mathematically Correct is reliable in their assessment of most texts? -- InterestedTeacher - 05 Jul 2005
It's exactly the info I was asking for. I'm familiar with Larson, Boswell, Stiff's algebra and geometry texts. It makes sense that their middle school texts are equally horrendous. -- BarryGarelick - 05 Jul 2005
That problem came from Passport to Mathematics, Book 1, 1999 by McDougal?-Littell, Inc. It's authors are Larson, Boswell, Kanold, and Stiff, but you probably already knew that. It is on page 14. This text is used in 6th grade at our private, Christian School. After many years of using Saxon, "they" changed to this text. I'm guessing that change was made because the 7th and 8th grades also use Passport (to Alg. and Geom). I teach 5th and use Saxon 6/5. So students are going from Saxon and from a very teacher directed classroom to this text. It's quite a shock to them. You really should hear from the parents. I realize this was more information than you asked for. -- InterestedTeacher - 05 Jul 2005
The fact that scallops can be distinguishable is not the point. The way the problem was stated, was not much different than saying 3 red balls, 2 green balls and 3 yellow balls. Combinatorics problems (which this problem is) typically will state whether things are distinguishable or not, since that is important information. Glad to help. By the way, what grade level of Passport to Mathematics was the problem from? -- BarryGarelick - 05 Jul 2005
Barry, thanks. You're correct, I was assuming scallops are indistinguishable, although I really do know they can be quite different! I had seen your post earlier requesting ill-posed questions. Glad to help! -- InterestedTeacher - 05 Jul 2005
Interested teacher: The problem is not you. The problem is that the problem is ill-stated. You are assuming, quite logically, that the scallop shells are indistinguishable from each other, as are the olive and conch shells. Stated another way, it's like you have three boxes A, B, and C. Box A contains 3 red balls, Box B, 2 blue balls and Box C, 3 green balls. Drawing one ball from each box, what is the probability of getting a combination of a red, blue and green ball? Well, 100%. So you're looking at the shell problem the same way. There's only one combination you can have: Scallop, Olive and Conch. If the shells are distinguishable, so you have, say, a red scallop, green scallop and yellow scallop, and the other shells are similarly distinguished, then you would count things individually. You would then have 3 possibilities of a scallop x 2 possibilities for an olive x 3 possibilites of a conch for a total of 18 combinations. Thank you for this. I collect ill-posed problems. -- BarryGarelick - 04 Jul 2005
I'm reading through Passport to Mathematics again. Can anyone help me with this question?
SHELLS You are giving your friend part of your shell collection. You have 3 scallop shells, 2 olive shells, and 3 conch shells. If you choose one of each type, how many different combinations of shells could you give your friend? The answer is 18. I'm at a loss. What am I not understanding?-- InterestedTeacher - 04 Jul 2005
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