Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Here's Some Homework - Common Core Style

 From a mom in NY State:  My son's KINDERGARTEN homework.
I hold a Master's Degree and have won multiple Emmy Awards and my husband is a Lieutenant in the NYPD. We couldn't figure it out. It's a SAD SAD SAD state when two well educated parents can't help their child with their KINDERGARTEN homework. 

This is what you have to look forward to in the future.  Data walls and homework you may not be able to decipher and, if you can, will you be able to help your child the Common Core "way?"


mirmac1 said...

Makes EDM look brilliant!

Po3 said...

I would be tempted to color in the middle fingers.

Anonymous said...

"In mathematics education at primary school level, a number bond (sometimes alternatively called an addition fact) is a simple addition sum which has become so familiar that a child can recognise it and complete it almost instantly"

(from the wikipedia entry)

There are 5 cubes (though they look like squares to me) in the stick, so presumably, you color 1 or 2 red or blue and 4 or 3 blue or red and then fill in the circles. Then, guess you cover up one of the circles, look at the pairs, and show the missing number on your finger.

Yes, it was incomprehensible to me, too, but I think we have to be careful not make too much of our own lack of knowledge of a constantly changing terminology ("number bond" = "addition fact").


PS: I don't think you're supposed to color in the fingers :-) -- at least I would have imagined that you're just supposed to hold up numbers of fingers.

Anonymous said...

Kindergarten should not have homework.

-Math mom

Anonymous said...

It definitely says "color the fingers you showed". I'm with Po3 on this one. Though I thought it meant to color my own middle fingers. Now I can edify the rest of the class all afternoon. I think that makes it a 'real-world application'.

-HS parent

ws said...

ok maybe I'm showing my own idiocy, but what exactly is a "hidden partner"?

and I agree no homework in K. in fact, with our son, we refused to do it when he was in K.

Anonymous said...

I agree that kindergartners should not have homework (I personally don't think that kids should have homework, except reading, until they are old enough to do it by themselves, so, around 3rd grade). However, I know a lot of people in other school districts whose kids have homework in kindergarten - the issue is that many districts still have half-day kindergarten, combined with a full-day curriculum. So, no possible way to get through everything they are suppossed to cover unless some of it goes home as homework. I assume the common core curriculum is based on full-day kindergarten?

Mom of 4

Eric B said...

Once we strip out the new new math jargon*, this is basically just the same as the number blocks you see all the time. If you were performing 2+3=5, you would color two blocks or two fingers yellow, three block/fingers red, and have five total colored fingers. The concept that they're teaching is the correlation between counting numbers (like counting on your fingers) and the abstract numerals. Is that a bad thing to teach? If so, someone might want to alert the Montessori folks.

* The jargon is horribly tangled, written by an academic, and incomprehensible to the average person. I don't dispute that. But I also think that the jargon is the textbook/curriculum author's fault, not Common Core. Unless Common Core specifically describes number bonds and all the rest. If it does, I take back my defense of CC.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of how I feel when I try to help my kid with her CMP math at night. Ugh.

How are parents supposed to partner with the schools to support children with such poor curriculum (like this one showed?


Catherine said...

Our commentary is the stuff good satire is made of. It's priceless. I'm envisioning the middle fingers colored in.... on national TV. Someone send this to Jon Stewart.

One thing that's clear to me... now... unless you're already well grounded in math, speak english very well, have good access to the internet for deciphering.... this math home work is unintelligible. ( I can untangle the principle, but boy is this the hard way to get there). Imagine if you're trying to help your child do this in a language not your native one. Oy Vey. The achievement gap will widen by the day!

Patrick said...

Somebody probably thinks it's 'innovation' to make up new words for old concepts every 15-20 years.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Catherine, yes, this was a two-parent family who speaks English. You can imagine how confusing it could be to other parents.

Anonymous said...

So...how's SPS's math adoption going?


Anonymous said...

"Somebody probably thinks it's 'innovation' to make up new words for old concepts every 15-20 years."

An incredibly frustrating aspect of psychology & social sciences. I think they think they are making up new words because it better defines the fundamental concept, but it also excludes everyone not in the loop from understanding.

Marketing/business/economics people do it too, to some extent.


Anonymous said...

Okay…so this is an assessment of low-efficiency sum strategies. The point is that students must achieve automaticity in common single-digit sums. Encouraging the use of fingers is the lowest level of mathematical efficiency. Feh!

The problem is that the mathematical language is proprietary and based on some publisher's made-up math language. Feh!

We all better pray that the Math Adoption Committee adopts Singapore Math (Math in Focus).

I Teach Math, Therefore I Dream Apple Pi

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry but three different images to do this?

I have made a promise to my now-grown sons - if this is what school is to be - testing on this curriculum - I"m paying for private school for my grandchildren.

Michael Rice said...

Melissa writes: I have made a promise to my now-grown sons - if this is what school is to be - testing on this curriculum - I"m paying for private school for my grandchildren.

Don't do that. Make sure they go to North Beach, Mercer (Hamilton if they can get Pounder), and Ingraham. :-)

n said...

I,too, wish that American textbooks were more like Singapore. Those texts are clear even at K=2 and consistent. No need to spend millions and millions for big pictures books with unfathomable graphics that usually apply to that particular publisher's idea of math notions. Parts of EDM are just plain silly. Keep it to the math and kids will get it if symbols and content look the same from year to year.

And good clear math books will be a lot cheaper without all the bells and whistles and hard-to-fathom pictures. American math books are tomes compared to the efficient and lean (and much cheaper!) programs coming from other countries. At least my experience with Singapore and with a Romanian program suggests that.

Ah, America - where it is all about marketing.

Anonymous said...

This math jargon (number bonds) is from Singapore Math. Seriously, go to youtube and search "number bonds Singapore Math." For example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-QMZ_f9PUg

I know its popular to hate on common core and love Singapore Math on this blog, but this is a little out of hand. This type of worksheet comes directly from the Singapore Math way of teaching fluency for addition/subtraction. When I taught we called them fact families, but whatever.

Is the worksheet poorly worded? Yes! Absolutely.

Is the common core way to understand math? No! It's the Singapore way.


Anonymous said...

Sorry "Honestly"…that lesson (image posted above) is not from Singapore Math. "Number Bonds" is a term used in many texts. So is "Fact Family" and "Addition Fact." The PowerPoint you cite is not a Singapore Math lesson from the U.S. or Standards Edition of Singapore Math. It is one person's interpretation of number bonds based on their personal experience. It is not from the Singapore Math Teacher's Instructional Guide. Your criticism is way off the mark. Read the guides at every grade level (K-5).

The goal of Singapore Math is "automaticity" within a mental math framework. Counting on fingers is inefficient. Coloring blocks is a holdover from the original TERC Math texts. Slow, and lacking rigor.

The point is that the assessment cited by Melissa W. is too wordy and inefficient, devoid of standard mathematical terms. If you wish to use that jargon with your students or children…more power to you. However, it is still inefficient math intended support the lowest level of mathematical fluency. The highest level is "automaticity." At any level of proficiency, the example from the blog posting is remedial at best and corporate in its most cynical assessment.

Singapore - 10 Years and Counting

Anonymous said...

Hi Singapore,

First, my response was in no way a criticism of Singapore methods. The mental math automaticity is incredibly important. Bringing a curriculum like that to SPS after EDM would be very beneficial.

Second, yes the worksheet is crap as I said. Counting on fingers is just bad practice.

However, fluency and automaticity with fact families/addition facts/number bonds etc is (as you said) incredibly important. Activities that establish that 5,4, and 1 (or 10, 7, and 3) go together (initially through physical items like manipulatives) is important for kindergarten students, with or without common core. I'm with Eric B here.


Weirdness said...

Hidden partner = Imaginary friend???

Color the middle finger of your imaginary friend, is my solution.

Charlie Mas said...

There are three problems here.

One has to do with invented jargon. All communication should strive toward clarity. Textbooks have a special duty to be clear. Jargon is the enemy of clarity.

Second, the inability to get the real terminology right. Those are squares, not cubes.

Third, what is the lesson here? Surely there is a better way for students - even kindergarten students - to name the missing element of a math fact other than holding up fingers. I'm thinking they could just say the name of the number. After all, we want them to associate the name of the number with the numeral and with an actual count of things, but we already have the things represented with the squares. We don't need fingers as well. What we need now is the spoken name of the number.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's another issue.

Tell me, did your parents help you with homework when you were a kid? Mine didn't. (I might have asked an older sib but maybe a question, not help.)

All this deeply involves parents. There is NO way a kindergartener could read and understand it on their own. As I learned from the NPE conference, Common Core is widely believed to be developmentally inappropriate for grades K-2 (or 3).

I think it is.

Anonymous said...

We don't know what the class lesson entails. Perhaps the HW makes perfect sense to the student because they have done exercises in class. The squares are possibly representations of the commonly used Unifix cube manipulatives. Could it have been made more clear? That goes without saying. In the defense of the example, math at this age should be very graphic and I don't think it's bad to use counting on hands at this age. It helps establish grouping of numbers by five or ten. Our number system is base ten...and we have ten fingers...kind of convenient to have math manipulatives that are built in.

mathy parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa makes an excellent point about assumptions that are involved in too much of the homework that accompanies packaged curricula.

EDM is exhibit A. Much of the homework assumes an English speaking parent is home to work "with" the child. I simply wouldn't send the "Take Home Sheets" home.

If the child can't do the homework without an adult sitting there, then there is not equity in the homework.

Also, jargon is the currency for inane systems. Status is measured by the usage of the jargon du jour, not by effectiveness and work that matters. Susan Enfield was a jargon master. That's probably why her picture is on the wall.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Mathy parent, I get your point on finger counting. But geez, unifix cube manipulatives... I'm guessing that doesn't mean fingers. I feel like an ELL student.


Eric B said...

Re: counting on fingers being the least effective way to do addition. Many math curricula teach the inefficient way first then go on to memorization and the efficient methods. A great example from algebra is the quadratic formula. Most classes spend a little bit of time at least on completing the square and the hard way to do it, then move on to the quadratic formula. Just because it's inefficient doesn't mean it's not good teaching practice depending on the level of the student. Since this is a kindergarten math exercise, it's reasonable to assume that the teacher is introducing concepts of addition and subtraction. Finger counting seems pretty reasonable in that case. It would be totally wrong in 4th grade, though.

Anonymous said...

Unifix cubes

Unifix cube worksheets

mathy parent

Linh-Co said...

The next Math Adoption Committee meeting is this Friday at 8:30 at JSCEE. I think they are finalizing the rubric for second round evaluations of the 4 finalist programs ( Math in Focus, enVision, Go Math and My Math). Observers are welcomed to join.

Patrick said...

My parents would answer questions if I didn't understand something, but generally I was working alone. I didn't have any significant homework until about 5th grade, though, and by then most of the time I was doing my homework before they were home.

Should we say that because we can't guarantee an english-speaking adult at home for every student that no students should have help with homework? I wouldn't say that. There should be homework clubs available after school at least from middle school on, and they would include an adult, probably a teacher. That should partially reduce the inequity.

mirmac1 said...

I make sure to check my child's homework to: a) ensure they understood the lesson; b) have them recheck for oversights or careless mistakes (they're kids, right) and c) to educate myself as to what my child is learning about. It bugs the heck out of me when I would read something like this dreck. What do two Ivy League engineering degrees serve if I can't fill in the right finger!? How can I teach my daughter that STEM is cool when it is presented in such an obtuse manner?!

Just venting.

Anonymous said...

I send home homework, but it is intended to reinforce, not teach for the first time. I am speaking of younger children, here, BTW.

Students are practicing, not getting parents to do the work I'm supposed to be doing.

Homework clubs are great for those who have them.

--enough already