Sunday, January 28, 2007

Free book on Project Follow-Through

UPDATE II: Don't miss Chapter 4. It really goes away as promised.

UPDATE I: Chapter 3 of Zig's saga is now available for downloading.

You've got only one more week to download the first chapter of Siegfried Engelmann's opus The Outrage of Project Follow Through: 5 Million Failed Kids Later for free. Project Follow-Through was the nation's most extensive, ambitious and costly study of what works in education ever conducted. Its findings did not sit well with the educational establishment's pet notions and beliefs, and the establishment did its best to either ignore or disparage the study.

Helpful hint on downloading: When the text appears in the Adobe Reader, go to the top left and find Save a Copy. Click and the file will download to the designated folder.

Sometimes I wish PDF files had never been invented.

From Zig's site:

Schedule for Chapters of Zig's Latest Book

The Outrage of Project Follow Through:
5 Million Failed Kids Later

Here's the plan: Every week for the next seven weeks, starting January 22, I will post one chapter of the trade book I have written, The Outrage of Project Follow Through: 5 Million Failed kids Later. Each chapter will remain on for two weeks. Once it's off, it's off and will not return. There are seven chapters

Chapter 1: Before Project Follow Through (January 22) click for print friendly version
Chapter 2: Project Follow Through Begins (January 29)
Chapter 3: Follow Through Continues (February 5)
Chapter 4: During Follow Through (February 12)
Chapter 5: Follow Through Evaluation (February 19)
Chapter 6: Follow Through Aftermath (February 26)
Chapter 7: The New Millennium (March 5)

You may download chapters, but understand that the material is copyrighted by me and is not to be distributed or published without consent. I still have some hopes of getting it published, but so far I've petitioned 5 literary agents, and none was interested in even reading the book. I'm going to keep trying to find a major publisher that will take the work and publicize it, but in the meantime I figured I'd put out the material for those who are interested. All chapters except the one on evaluation are at least 80 pages.

Prologue to Zig's Latest Book
The book is not designed for educators but for the general public. The events start in 1964, when I got my first job in education (at the Institute for Research on Exceptional Children at the University of Illinois) and proceed from there to the present through a series of first-person vignettes and episodes that present the human side of what we did and why we did it. I think it delivers a powerful message.

Many episodes are dramatic—at least they were when we experienced them. I believe they show that we knew what we were talking about because we'd done more than theorize or observe through the sterile literature. We were completely involved in working with teachers, kids, and schools for more than 20 years in different manifestations of Follow Through. The book also provides short tours of work we've done with various types of learners, from the autistic, those with traumatic brain damage, and the deaf, to preschoolers, at-risk high school students, and the gifted.

The theme of the book is that urban school districts, as they are currently configured, can't possibly work because their structure, logic, and philosophy are anti-scientific. Overall, the book will probably sadden you, but hopefully, it will provide an interesting journey and won't discourage you.

UPDATE: Chapter Two is now available. It won't stay on for long.

Here are the opening lines of Chapter Two:

Project Follow Through Begins

Devious Logic of the 1960s
Project Follow Through, a creation of the ‘60s, was the largest
educational experiment ever conducted, the most responsive effort ever
designed to find out what works well and how to serve at-risk children
effectively. Yet, Follow Through is not recognized as a landmark study or a
source of revelation about how to educate children of poverty effectively. It
remains a secret, both to the public and to the educational community. In
fact, its results have never been used to fashion even one urban school
district, and the project has been all but erased from what serves as the
current idiom of the “history of compensatory education.”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Test your math knowledge

The Fordham Foundation's The State of State Standards 2006 has given California's math standards a top rating. (CA shares an A with MA and IN).

Here you can test your math knowledge with Practice Problems for the California Mathematics Standards Grades 1-8

An example from 7th grade:

A jacket is on sale for 70% of the original price. If the discount saves $45, what was the original price of the jacket? What is the sale price?
Let's see...

Here is an example from fourth grade:

What is the length of the line segment joining the points
(6, -4) and (21, -4)?
So the kids are already expected to know early algebra at that grade level? Pretty amazing!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fuzzy math video

Parents who are bewildered by the kind of math their children are exposed to in school should watch this video. A parent who is also an atmospheric scientist demonstrates how multiplication and division problems are done with this new-fangled math. Incredibly confusing stuff for a kid, done to avoid standard algorithms.

This link of the video called Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth takes you to the YouTube site. The video has sparked a lively discussion at YouTube that includes a few defenders of fuzzy math. This is an example:

Kids will "learn math" if they are given an opportunity to discover. Kids want to explore things. If you tell them that this is the way to do it, you have (for many, but not all) squelched their creative energy. They are reduced to just finding the answer. Kids want to understand the language of math. In the standard division algorithm, we use the term "goes in to". What does that mean to a kid just beginning to learn the concept of division? What is a "remainder"?
This is what I don't understand. If kids are so eager to discover, why are they not discovering on their own outside school? If this were true, nearly every child would be math proficient.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ed school nuttiness

One of the major travesties in education are the education schools. One of my recommendations for a new and improved NCLB law would be to declare an education major a disqualification for teaching. Prospective elementary teachers should be required to major in an academic subject. Education courses can be tagged on if they meet a set of criteria to be determined.

This radical solution I am proposing received a new impetus when I was looking around other education weblogs and came across this post at Right Wing Nation. The good prof unearthed samples of course offerings at an ed school in Indiana that are geared more to political indoctration in a particular ideology than to turning out effective, knowledgeable teachers. Theses examples could be replicated countless times at other ed schools.

Here is what ed majors can choose from:

E 305 Infusion of Technology (3 cr.) B One of the goals for the Democracy, Diversity, and Social Justice Program is to infuse the study, use, and teaching about technology throughout the entire program. Rather than being a tool that preservice teachers learn about, technology will be studied as a subject and a means to expand research opportunities, stimulate and enhance models of inquiry, and broaden teaching abilities.
What on earth does technology have to do with Democracy, Diversity, and Social Justice?

E 320 Envisioning, Exploring, and Creating Our Social Worlds Through Multiple Literacies in the Elementary School (9 cr.) B This interdisciplinary course explores the social studies as ways of knowing about our world; the language arts and language learning theory; aesthetics and the arts; and the multiple roles of the teacher as facilitator of learning, social researcher, and curriculum creator. A field experience is included.
Here we have another example of the corruption of language. Literacy is now literacies and can mean anything under the sky. How about concentrating on turning out fluent readers and writers who can put together coherent, articulate and error-free sentences and paragraphs?

E 322 Diversity and Social Justice I (3 cr.) B Students will develop curricula for social studies, language arts, aesthetics, and the arts that responds to multicultural and disability concerns. Curriculum planning and teaching strategies will attend to issues of student diversity in home and community contexts and school settings.

E 326 Diversity and Social Justice II (3 cr.) Students will develop curriculum for mathematics and science that responds to multicultural and disability concerns. Curriculum planning and teaching strategies will attend to issues of student diversity in home and community contexts and school settings.
In all this responding to multicultural and disability concerns the concern for what these students should know is lost. Are these multiculturals really from another planet that makes them unsuitable for a core, agreed-upon curriculum good for non-multiculturals?

E 324 Teaching Mathematics and Science for All Students (9 cr.) This course prepares prospective elementary school teachers to teach mathematics and science in an integrated, discovery-based environment. A major goal of this course is to promote student familiarity with the conceptual understanding and skills necessary for teaching in a manner that promotes the inclusion of all pupils. Constructivism, the History and Philosophy of Science, and Technology and Society comprise three strands that further the aim of democratic teaching as applied to mathematics and science.
I'll bet the "democratic" discovery-based environment excludes a lot of students who need special attention and explicit instruction.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

David Klein video

I had great fun watching a video of David Klein and James Milgram speaking at an event hosted by Where's the Math?

As a bonus you get to see Ma and Pa Kettle doing innovative division and multiplication. I guess the Kettles discovered their own algorithm and could become poster boys and girls for the fuzzies.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Perversity in Chicago

Like so many big cities, Chicago has a huge number of underperforming schools who get placed on a probation list, thanks to NCLB. What is the school board's answer to ailing schools? Administer a massive dose of poison!

In what can only seem to be head-shaking perversity, the board forces something called the Chicago Math and Science Initiative on ailing schools, enforced by its network of so-called Area Instructional Offices.

As can be seen from the instructional materials used by CMSI, it's all of the worst fuzzy type:

Purpose: To promote instructional coherence across K-8 mathematics classrooms by recommending and supporting specific research- and inquiry-based instructional materials.

Description: The mathematics instructional materials designated for grades K-8 in the Chicago Public Schools are:

Primary Grades Mathematics: Math Trailblazers and Everyday Mathematics

Middle Grades Mathematics: Connected Mathematics and Math Thematics

This information can be used as a resource by other elementary schools that seek to align their use of instructional materials with that supported by CMSI.
Students who desperately need structure, coherence, instruction and solid foundational knowledge are fed this fuzzy crap, guaranteed to perpetuate failure.

The science component is of a similar vein. All "inquiry" and discovery and no foundational knowledge.