Sunday, July 29, 2007

CA math

There is no need to keep reinventing the wheel. California math standards look good. Here are California's grade level expectations in math.

Here is a compact version.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Relatively speaking...

Kids and grownups should have fun marveling at these different sizes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Multiple approaches

There usually are multiple approaches to doing things. For example, if you want to increase the pass rate on tests, you could try to make students more proficient. Conversely, you could dumb down tests as described by Marc Epstein in Dumbing Down the Regents in City Journal.

But the 15 document-related questions are ludicrously easy. The documents include some written passages, but are mostly political cartoons and photographs. Several concern the women’s suffrage movement, such as a photograph of a suffragists’ parade showing women carrying various signs containing the word “suffrage.” The exam question asks, “What was a goal of the women shown in these photographs?” Another photo shows a White House picketer with a banner reading, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” The exam asks the student to state “one method being used by women to achieve their goal.” A third document is a reproduction of a Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Association poster listing “Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote.” All of the reasons on the poster begin with the word “because”: “Because laws affect women as much as men,” for example. The Regents question reads: “What were two arguments suffragists used in this 1915 flier in support of their goal?” To get full credit, all the student has to do is copy two of the reasons from the poster! Other photographs show 1960s civil rights sit-ins. One question: “Identify one method used by these civil rights activists to achieve their goals.” Another question asks the student to name one goal of the activists. And so on.
And then there are the adjustments:

Once teachers have marked the exams, they use a chart created by the state to convert the raw score into a final grade. The extraordinary adjustment built into the chart makes it possible to get only 20 of the 50 multiple-choice questions right and pass the Regents. It’s also possible to complete only one of the two essays and pass. The examiners have created a fail-proof test that measures nothing beyond basic reading and writing competence. It wouldn’t be difficult to train a sixth-grade class that can read and write at grade level to pass the test.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Internet to the rescue

Parents dissatisfied with the fuzzy math plague can go to this site:

No expensive tutor needed. The program provides endless practice of all major topics with immediate feedback. Good for K-8.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dumb and dumber

Some educationists believe that so-called "21th century skills" means dumbing down the curriculum beyond recognition. Such educationist advice is being followed in England. England is introducing a new curriculum radically stripped of content in favor of "life skills." All this is reminiscent of the Cardinal Principles of 1918, the embodiment of the Progressive war against the academic curriculum. Perhaps Marx was on to something when he observed (a paraphrase): History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Churchill and Hitler are out. Olaudah is in:

Secondary schools will strip back the traditional curriculum in favour of lessons on debt management, the environment and healthy eating, ministers revealed.

Even Winston Churchill no longer merits a mention after a drastic slimming-down of the syllabus to create more space for "modern" issues.

Along with Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King, the former prime minister has been dropped from a list of key figures to be mentioned in history teaching.

This means pupils may no longer hear about his stirring speeches during the Second World War, when he told Parliament that defeating Hitler would be Britain's "finest hour".

The only individuals now named in guidance accompanying the curriculum are anti-slavery campaigners Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce.

The omission of Churchill added to a growing row over Labour reforms to secondary education - the most radical since the national curriculum was introduced in 1988.

Critics warned traditional subject disciplines were being stripped of key content and used to promote fashionable causes and poorly-defined "life skills".

They said that while the two World Wars remain on the curriculum as broad topics the failure to specify teaching on Churchill - while naming other individuals - downgraded his importance.

The move was called "madness" by his grandson Nicholas Soames, the Tory MP.

"It is absurd. I expect he wasn't New Labour enough for them," he said.

Tory spokesman on children Michael Gove added: "Winston Churchill is the towering figure of twentieth century British history.

"His fight against fascism was Britain's finest hour. Our national story can't be told without Churchill at the centre."

Schools are also being told to tear up the timetable of eight lessons a day and introduce classes lasting a few minutes - or several hours - by mixing different subjects together.

Five-minute lessons on spelling, French or German could be "drip-fed" throughout the day.

The architect of the new curriculum, Dr Ken Boston, insisted traditional approaches had been "exhausted".

The slimline regime is being introduced amid concerns that teachers do not have enough time to ensure youngsters master the three Rs.
Meet the architect of the new curriculum. Would you buy a used car from this man?

The justification given by this architect of the new curriculum for this stripped-down curriculum is rather puzzling and sounds more like demented babbling:

Dr Boston said the changes were necessary because the rise in education standards throughout the Western world was "slowing down".

"In some countries, it has reached a glass ceiling through which it cannot break," he said.

"The traditional approach to covering the syllabus has been exhausted: it has delivered all it can: it will work no more."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Doing chemical experiments like throwing sodium or potassium into water is not without risks. As a matter of fact, it's very dangerous.

Who would have thought that experimenting with math can also be hazardous? This is what happened when a fellow foolishly divided by zero.