Friday Open Thread

Anyone who has given thought to Common Core standards and has a opinion you might want to pass along/talk about, please shoot me an e-mail at   I'll forward your e-mail on.  Please send it to me by noon if possible.

Haven't checked other news sources but I suspect the charter law decision is generating a lot of discussion.

Both Board Director community meetings (Carr and Martin-Morris) are cancelled for tomorrow.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Former Eckstein student has filed a lawsuit against her former typing teacher claiming he made sexual contact with her during school hours. The teacher is now at the World School. here is the PI article:

Nothing in the Times about it.

PI Reader
Anonymous said…
Also in the news, a teacher at the Bush School was accused of voyerism during a school ski trip. He was immediately reported to police and put on administrative leave, and is being held in Canada (where the alleged offense occurred). Here is the article on that incident:

PI Reader
(who sometimes reads the Times, too)
Charlie Mas said…
Since the annual bullshit report on program evaluation and assessment this month I have been thinking about Policy 2090 and how it requires the Board to set expectations for every program and service.

Today I wrote to the Board and asked them when they are going to do that job.

I don't anticipate a reply.
I can't believe the Board didn't - at the last Board meeting - point out that the "program placement and assessments" was only a report on assessments.

Why do they care so little about program placement?
mirmac1 said…
Seattle Special Education PTSA
everychild. onevoice

Meeting Reminder
Seattle Special Education PTSA General Meeting Dec 16th 2013, 7-9pm Rm 2700, School District main offices at 2445 3rd Ave S (3rd and Lander)

Guest speaker: Professor Virginia (Ginger) Berninger, UW College of Education, speaking on :

(a) evidence supporting the treatment-relevant, differential diagnosis of three Specific Learning Disabilities--dysgraphia, dyslexia, and OWL LD/SPI

(b) evidence supporting the teaching of handwriting and computer tools in the 21st century

(c) and proactive ways to develop collaborative relationships between parents and educators on behalf of children in cost-effective and evidence-based ways in general education, the least restrictive environment.

Dr. Berninger is a licensed psychologist and former teacher (general education, special education, and reading specialist) with extensive experience in school-related assessment, consultation, and research. She is currently Professor of Educational Psychology (Learning Sciences and Human Development), Learning Disabilities Coordinator, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Human Development and Disability, University of Washington, and the Principal Investigator and Director of the NICHD-funded, University of Washington Multidisciplinary Learning Disability Center and Center for Oral and Written Language Learners (OWLs). During her 30 years of research on normal reading, writing, and math development and learning disabilities in reading, writing, and math, she has authored, co-authored, or edited over 200 research publications, including 12 books.

CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services for persons with hearing impairment will be available at this meeting.
Eric B said…
Program placement is probably the second most controversial thing the district does, after boundaries. Of course, they're really intertwined. I think the Board wants to stay as far away from the controversial decisions as they can.
Anonymous said…
I'm finding the way my child's teacher is covering Common Core is odd. A project or assignment will be given with the Common Core standard cited in the rubric, but the actual skill is not explicitly taught in class. The students are expected to show mastery of the standard simply because it's a stated objective on the rubric. They are supposed to know proper punctuation, spelling, etc., even though they are not explicitly and systematically being taught grammar, writing, or vocabulary.

So in the broad sense, I'm okay with Common Core from what I've seen of the standards, but the actual SPS implementation is bizarre (from our one class perspective). Putting the standard in the rubric is not the same as actually teaching it. Sometimes the stated CC standard isn't really covered by the assignment, though in the teacher's twisted interpretation perhaps she believes it is.

I'd be interested in hearing how it's going in other classrooms.

2 cents, send me your e-mail if you want to talk to a reporter about it.
Anonymous said…
I noticed some odd instruction in kindergarten last year -- worksheets showing geometric forms. It is in the Common Core for kindergarten to introduce geometry:

Identify and describe shapes.
Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

(From Core Standards site)

The unfinished worksheet was sent home. What I observed was that many of the shapes described were a bit beyond what I would expect a kindergartner to have mastery of -- tetrahedron?

Based on my experience with early childhood development and having looked into Piaget (based education school stuff) I don't understand how the kids were expected to do this work without access to actual forms. Young children need that sensory input to help make sense of the world and within an academic setting I hardly expect a 5 year old to have strong knowledge of how many faces an abstracted diagram of the 3D form on paper might have.

That is where Common Core is truly failing kids -- in the classroom.

While my son was out sick I used blocks and various objects around the house and started teaching him the forms that way -- and he got it. Go figure.

Ann D.
Anonymous said…
That was basic education school stuff, not based.

Ann D
Disgusted said…
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds Teachers United. In June of 2013, the BMGF gave Teachers United $650K.
Anonymous said…
How does CMP2 math or Everyday Math align with the Common Core standards?

And what about Writers and Readers Workshops? How does this curriculum align with Common Core?

Most schools use these with a few exceptions, right?

What other tools are teachers being given?

Are tools being systematically given or are teachers expected to just develop their own things to fill gaps?

I am confused as to how we can say we are adopting the Common Core next year when I see so little evidence of conversation around these topics. And I hear about random worksheets being used. Perhaps I just don't understand....

-Common Core Confused
mirmac1 said…
How many parents got Shauna Heath's Common Core Family Letter? Because she told the board it went out to everyone.
Benjamin Leis said…
It would be joke if it weren't so serious. We're going to give the principals and teachers 6-10 hours total of training, but not actually switch the curriculum or materials and *poof* we're aligned with new standards.

Its the curriculum not the standards that are the key here. No amount of professional development is going to change that unless you really expect teachers to ad-hoc design their lessons on the ground with a set of materials that don't match.


Anonymous said…
It would be joke if it weren't so serious. We're going to give the principals and teachers 6-10 hours total of training, but not actually switch the curriculum or materials and *poof* we're aligned with new standards.

This is what we're seeing as parents. Same old stuff - CMP, EDM, RWW, but "aligned" to CCSS in name only.

Anonymous said…
From my experience, common core has turned everything into worksheets. What was the beginning of a cool project based learning curriculum that PTA funded teacher training, and the teachers were super-excited about, got squashed out of existence by the falling anvil that is Common core. Not sure if the administration of my kids' elem. wanted to move to CC or if our particular school was honored to be first and highly scrutinized, thus felt like survival depended on getting with the program. (yes, we're a school that has survival issues, not a neighborhood school)

Whatever the reason, all homework is worksheets - nothing that is creative or fun - and my son is unhappy for the first time ever. "It's dull. It's not easy, but it's really dull."

I've grown more and more distressed and started raising a fuss about worksheet crap, b/c being polite was getting me pats on the heads and educational jargon and being told "I was the only one complaining." Not hardly. I think I'm the only one who actually thinks my complaints might make a difference, and everyone else just gave up.

Me, I don't care about making nice, so I'm complaining about the CC worksheets. Whoever had a tetrahedron worksheet in K - keep a copy and start adding that to you letters. Complain. It's crap.

Anonymous said…
Here's a question:

Does anywhere in the real world use "rubrics"?

I've used a lot of checklists and evaluation tools, but the rubrics my elem. kids are supposed to use are so byzantine they make the federal register look like a light reading.

I told my 4th grader that rubrics were not a real world thing, and in all our grown up jobs neither parent had ever used a rubric, so he just had to power through it but it's just school junk. I hate having to tell him that, but he didn't understand and wanted my help (but of course he's not allowed to bring the rubrics home!)

So - rubrics? Anyone? Do they use them anywhere in the Real World?

Signed: FtheJargon Again
Anonymous said…
I was told that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has not been approved by the Board, so it is not in effect. Does anyone know if this is correct, and is this a typical timeline, or is something going on behind the scenes.....?

(some important special education class size ratios have been agreed to, and voted on......)

Can contract language be "tweaked" after membership approval?


Just Wondering
Really Disgusted said…
I received a notice from the district about Common Core. I submitted a question to Ms. Heath regarding student privacy and whether or not the district has purchased appropriate Common Core materials.

Naturally, I haven't heard back.
Josh Hayes said…
FtheJargon, assessments are the brave new world in a lot of industries -- and rubrics are just fancy words for telling people ahead of time how they will be assessed. In those broad terms, yes, rubrics are common in teh Realz.

As an aspiring teacher, I can tell you we are required to use them. The kind of literal grading that goes on in school doesn't really happen outside school, does it? It's not like your boss gives you a B+ on your work on this project, right? But in schools, that's what's expected. It's only fair to give kids, and their parents, some guidance about how those grades will be assigned. When I plow through a stack of 60 or so lab notebooks, I know that the kids have been given a rubric before they wrote each lab report, so they have no excuses for leaving pieces out, doing superficial analysis in required areas, and so forth. It protects me from the accusation of arbitrary and capricious grading, and it lets them structure their work to some extent without simply being told what to do.

But that's at the high school level. Rubrics for elementary school strike me as less workable, because so little of that work is project-based, but maybe I'm just not thinking that through properly.
Anonymous said…
Maybe the parents can revolt by researching lesson plans online that meet each Common Core standard but aren't worksheets.

There are so many resources online for Common Core aligned lessons, and even non-aligned lessons that would teach the intended skills -- why don't teachers use them?

Ann D
Anonymous said…
Probably because it takes time to find the resources, which teachers don't have. Additionally, some districts have a process by which all materials used in the classroom have to go through some type of approval process first. Depending on the principal, schools may or may not follow that guideline closely.
Plus not all of the lessons online are worth much. Good teaching builds on a sequence of skills and content, and piecemealing with a lesson from here and a lesson from there is not necessarily a coherent way to do that.
As for CCSS - You should see how Pearson scammed some districts with their EnVisions math, telling them yes, the program meets CCSS standards, then after purchase, telling them no, it doesn't, you'll need to buy all new print materials, OR you can use the updated online teacher guide BUT you're not allowed to print it and none of it matches up with the student book.

Fun Times
Anonymous said…
Okay, I just read the Seattle Times guest article on Common Core and Standards Based Grading (SBG). Since when are the two linked? Moving to CCSS does not mean schools need to move to SBG. What a bunch of gobbledygook.

This is what we've experienced with SBG in SPS:

1) Our child's teacher gives either 100% (4, meeting standard), 85% (3, meeting standard), or 75% (approaching standard). There is no in between. If the work meets standard and mostly, but not completely, meets the "exceeds standard" rubric, then the grade is 85%. The work has to be completely, absolutely perfect - 100%, or the grade is 85%. Final quarter grades are then averages of these 75%, 85%, and 100% scores. This system is even more rigid than your typical letter grade system.

2) Some teachers expect certain students to only meet standard. They tell them they don't have to do the problems labeled "exceed standard." If SBG is supposed prevent reduced expectations, is this really happening?

Science Debacle said…
Our middle school science teachers don't have textbooks. We need to rely our CHILDREN's notes and hand-outs.
Anonymous said…
Just a reminder: come to Jane Addams' middle school "launch/intro" at the JAMS library this Wednesday Dec. 18th at 6:30pm.

Meet the wonderful principal, Paula Montgomery, and hear about the exciting work being done. Lots of Q&A, and a tour of JAMS too!

Come out and support this new school!

This is the first time SPS has opened a comprehensive secondary institution in decades, and it may serve as the template for the subsequent launches of Meany, Wilson Pacific, and even Lincoln high school, so let's all support JAMS getting a great start, whether or not your kids will go there !

-go JAMS
Anonymous said…
The Science text issue is a difficult one. While I agree it would be good to have a reference for the classes, Science is not stagnant, it is constantly evolving, and text books can quickly become out-dated. I'm not sure we can count on SPS supplying updated texts on a regular basis?

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
I think this is what Seattle Schools uses for middle school science:

We've been able to do a google search to find a link for read only online texts. It helps when there's a test and the material needs to be reviewed (or it wasn't covered thoroughly in class).

Our child has history/social studies classes without texts for each child. Crazy, isn't it? We've resorted to finding cheap used copies on Amazon.

Anonymous said…
Lake Washington SD is experimenting with the use of free e-textbooks and other online resources. Some colleges are already doing this as a way to cut textbook cost and keep info up to date. ** The LWSD middle and high schoolers all get laptops from the schools to use though.** I also heard some of our spiffy, spendy private schools are moving this direction.


n said…
I'm curious about the $600,000 grant for Teachers United. Can I access their financial page? How much of that goes for administrative costs? What do they do exactly that Gates finds so appealing.

Kristin, can you answer these questions?
Anonymous said…

I would be interesting to see if there have been any valid studies done on whether "online texts only" enable students to learn math and or chemistry better than "bound books" with supplemental resources.

-- Dan Dempsey

(This could be another case of pushing technology for the sake of vendors rather than student learning.
--- No Vendor Left Behind?}
Anonymous said…
That's a fair question Dan. Like anything, what is between the covers matters and how it's taught. I like to ditch EDM and CMP as official math texts in any form. I do think subjects like science and LA/SS lend themselves better to on line use. There are some elegant on line math presentations that I've used to illustrate math concepts for my number loving child.

I must admit I love the feel of books when reading them and my children likes to attach sticky notes all over their books to highlight important points they want to remember and reference.

While college was over 30 years ago, I still blanched to this day the cost of textbooks and how many hours of work it took to pay for them (and this when minimum wage can still pay for one's college).


Anonymous said…
For any SPS elementary school teachers who might be reading this posts comments, UCDS offers free math lesson plans aligned with common core:

For school leadership teams (BLTs here in Seattle) Vulcan Productions has developed a free resource for developing instructional practices. This was developed here in town but with educators across the nation and they are well-intentioned:

Ann D
Patrick said…
North End Mom, I don't think the science presented in high school gets outdated that quickly. The foundations of science haven't changed since relativity in physics, genetics in biology. You could use a 50-year-old text and not need much. In astronomy you'd need something newer, but how many high schools teach astronomy?
dw said…
I'll tack on a bit more on science text books.

In elementary school and even most of middle school, it's not so much about teaching specific scientific knowledge as it is about teaching the scientific process. Writing and testing hypotheses, measuring, documenting, graphing, analyzing. The actual details about soil or trees or stars or atoms may evolve over the decades, but the foundation of the scientific process is quite stable.

This may be slightly less true in high school, but good teachers can always make corrections in those cases. It's rare that large chunks of a K-12 textbook will be rendered inadequate over the course of its lifetime, which I believe is likely to be less than 10 years.
Anonymous said…
In elementary school and even most of middle school, it's not so much about teaching specific scientific knowledge as it is about teaching the scientific process.

It really shouldn't be an either/or. Both content knowledge and the scientific process are important. There's just a general body of knowledge that students should be covering K-8. You should know about Charles Darwin, be familiar with general earth and space concepts, understand the basics about the human body, and have been introduced to the periodic table; the list goes on...

Anonymous said…
Amen parent. I get so sick of "testable questions". Really, if any subject lent itself to the "discovery" method, it would be science. There's soooo much to see, learn, and discover. But no. In science, every year it's back to square one with the scientific method (as if there were just 1) without any content to speak of. Science appreciation is more like it.

-Another Parent
Science Debacle. said…
Sophmores have science text books that are 20 years old. I tend to agree with Patrick. My son's chemistry teacher feels old texts are "ok", but there are better materials available.
Anonymous said…
Seems like some bordeline/over the line teacher bashing on this thread, even though most comments are about unfunded mandates with no training, extremely poor curriculum choices by the district, and lack of supplies.

Put on top of that incredibly huge class sizes and the abusive evaluation system. Granted, these are the main reasons I left teaching in SPS, but I still get it.

Maybe Ann D. can get a teaching certificate, be a guest teacher for a week, or sit through a non-training Common Core PD (that has evaluation consequences attached if you don't come up with your own materials) to supplement the already abysmal curriculum. Then we'll see if she's so quick to sound like the expert.

Under the horrible working conditions of teachers in Seattle, it still amazes me how they pull it off so well.

--enough already
I spend my life online... said…
That's true. Look at the support New York gives its teachers:

Even Georgia does better than WA State:

Click on grade level for a fleshed-out curriculum. As far as I know, WA has nothing like these two sites.

The Danielson eval system was changed by state legislators from four domains to eight. Give ue a break. They prefer to use the whip to motivate teachers instead of providing resources that actually support good teaching. I don't understand why Washington is so far behind. Many states have better teacher support for common core than Washington. We are all online using them as best we can.
Anonymous said…
1. Interactive teaching techniques by

2. An old UNESCO paper from 2002, but still relevant, particularly the sections on science and technology in schools- present curricula and recent trends and responses.

3. And finally, a great article about the misconceptions on teaching the nature and process of science (for those who want to debate the scientific process)
Anonymous said…
2. Citation for UNESCO paper:

Anonymous said…
enough already -

I was just sharing resources. Others have said recently that Common Core implementation is just worksheets and others said teachers don't have time for research. I suppose I could post to the teacher's association page instead.

But but if you want to talk about bashing and attacking then go right ahead.


"I spend..." - I've read lots of stories where NYC teachers are being forced to use lesson plans from those sites by their principals and they aren't allowed any freedom. The Common Core sh*t has hit the fan yet here in Washington State/Seattle and when if does it isn't going to be pretty. A lot of the enthusiasm for it will fade when the tests start says teacher friends in NY.

Ann D
Anonymous said…
Hasn't not has

Ann D
Anonymous said…
"Maybe the parents can revolt by researching lesson plans online that meet each Common Core standard but aren't worksheets.

There are so many resources online for Common Core aligned lessons, and even non-aligned lessons that would teach the intended skills -- why don't teachers use them?"

That doesn't sound like "just sharing resources" but maybe I'm just funny that way.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
I see your point, I meant revolt against the lack of materials from the district and in support of the teachers and classroom instruction. I can see why it was taken the wrong way.

Ann D.
Anonymous said…
Click on grade level for a fleshed-out curriculum. As far as I know, WA has nothing like these two sites.

You need to be careful when comparing states. In WA, districts have local control, meaning the districts themselves are in charge of selecting the materials and defining the curriculum. The state has "guidelines" and standards, but they really don't have the authority to enforce them - that is the job of the local school boards. In other states, CA for example, the state creates a list of approved textbooks and if schools want to purchase texts with state funding, they need to use the approved texts.

The blame for deficient materials and curriculum rests primarily with the district, both Teaching and Learning and the School Board. There are also oversight issues in which teachers are somehow able to get by with not covering year by year standards.

I spend my life online said…
How do you know it isn't similar in NY or Georgia? Or N. Carolina and several other states? Or legislators and Dorn set the standards. Perhaps you should look at OSPI - it wasn't my school district that developed and printed the Common Core for WA State. They mandated but didn't provide resources.

If NY is requiring teachers to use the online resource, all I can say is a lot non-NY teachers are using those resources and many others online by choice.
Anonymous said…
School districts are generally responsible for delivering the actual instructional programs to our public school students.

just fyi
I spend my life online said…
So you think it is okay to set policy without funding resources? I think perhaps you missed the poin5: an unfunded mandate is what we have in WA State. I'm saying that other states have provided resources to accompany their mandates whether the local district is responsible for specific curricula or not. WA State legislators and OSPI could have done as well.
Anonymous said…
Let's look at when WA state recommended materials to meet the state standards for math. How did that go? Seattle still chose materials that went against the state recommendations. If the state provided resources, would the district avail themselves of such resources?

The point is that districts have local control. CCSS are standards, and do not specify how they are covered, just as current WA state standards don't dictate how districts are to cover the standards. That's why you ideally hire competent administration to help determine specific materials and curriculum for adoption. WA state agreed to adopt CCSS, so that's what districts need to take on. You can debate on the fairness of it, but it doesn't change the fact that students will be tested under the assumption they are covering CCSS.

Anonymous said…
This isn't about being right, but it is about what is lacking.

A teacher in the trenches is telling us that the well is dry in terms of Common Core resources, both from the state and district.

This teacher has to live with the unprovided-for mandate every day.

The rest of us don't. Case closed in terms of who is "correct" on policy. It's the reality that matters.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Ummm, actually the rest of us DO have to live with unfunded mandate. Remember, the kids....

Anonymous said…
Actually, that's why the teacher "is living on the internet" make up for the lack so your kids don't have to live with it )or to minimize the damage).

Give credit where it's due is all I'm saying here. Nothing fancy or clever.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
A webinar powerpoint about what two districts were doing in 2011 to prepare for Common Core (Seattle Schools and Bethel School District, OR):

Based on the presentation, which district do you think is more prepared today?

Steve said…
We never received the letter from Ms. Heath about the Common Core standards. Thanks for posting it mirmac1...

Linh-Co said…
We need your input!
Seattle Public Schools is adopting new instructional materials for the math program in grades K-5. You have a voice in this process!
We are currently evaluating eight potential math programs and we would like your input.
All program materials – textbooks, workbooks, teacher manuals, etc. – are on display for members of the community to review and provide feedback on. The materials are available for viewing at:
John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
In the professional library
2445 Third Ave S., Seattle, WA 98134.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The JSCEE building will be open during winter break, with the exceptions of Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1. Feel free to come down and browse through the materials. We encourage feedback from the community at large.
You will have until January 8th to submit your comments on all of the different K-5 math programs under review (list below). Those comments will help the adoption committee identify three finalist programs for comprehensive review.
Starting in early March the three finalist programs will be on public display at five different locations across the city. (Sites to be announced) The final program will be selected by the Math Adoption Committee in early April and submitted to the school board for approval in May. Following approval, the materials will be delivered to schools in time for start of classes in the fall.
For more information, please visit the adoption webpage:
We welcome your participation! For questions, comments, concerns, contact Adam Dysart ( or Shawn Sipe (

Programs under review:
Math in Focus
My Math
Connecting Math Concepts
Ready Common Core
Origo Stepping Stones
Go Math
Anonymous said…
The Origo Stepping Stones is online, with books optional. Students get a workbook. It's promoted as a low cost solution, but doesn't that assume students already have access to computers?

Random reviews of Jump Math from a homeschooler perspective:

I went all the way up to the 4th grade samples and it still looked like K-1 level. I think my first grader would be bored to tears with at least the sample portion of 4th grade, even if the samples aren't a good representation of the level of difficulty (which I certainly hope it gets more difficult than that).

In answer to the question "Is This a Complete Curriculum?" Timberdoodle answers, "Yes and No". So I think they think it is best for the younger grades or children struggling with math.

We used this program for 2nd and 4th grade math. I thought the program was good, but I didn't like how they taught children to use their fingers to count out the answer. My girls thought this was great, and we switched when my daughter told me she like this math because she didn't need to learn her math facts because she could just count on her fingers.

It could be kind of slow if you kid is math-minded, but other than that I've heard it's good. I've heard it was designed to be remedial, but I'm not sure about that.

I'd be interested what programs are considered the top 3 contenders.

I spend my life online said…
"If the state provided resources, would the district avail themselves of such resources? "

Possibly not But the teachers would just as they are availing themselves of materials online from NY and other states.

enVisions is on the list? Someone wrote despairingly of enVisions either above or on a previous thread... I think APP has been using enVisions. I wonder how they like it?

Anonymous said…
Any educational ideology that uses the words "common," "core," or "standards" just simply cannot be good. The words themselves are just too ugly to do anything but stick in the mouth and create general misery.

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

Weirdness in Seattle Public Schools Abounds and Astounds