Archives for category: Common core

ela-9.3.1-3 – NYS Common Core – Animals in Translation

BEGIN: 1:50
“One method that is used in Common Core teaching is called the flipped classroom, where the students are given work that they don’t know how to do and given blanks or other worksheets and told to come back with the work done. I’ve experienced this more this year and it is incredibly confusing and a monotonous way to learn what I’m supposed to bring to the table. We’re expected to teach ourselves using a video. That’s not teaching. I’ve said this before in other speeches and I’ll say it again because it’s imperative to the survival of education. Teachers are irreplaceable. Irreplaceable. The bond they create, the knowledge they have, the opportunities a student has to ask questions and see multiple examples from a caring, knowledgeable person and not a computer screen is so valuable. One thing I’ve enjoyed most about school as I’ve gotten older is the bond I’ve been able to form with almost all of my teachers, past and present. This is what has let me enjoy school so fully until now. Take this away and you will have a irreparably damaged education forever.”
END: 2:55

Flipped classrooms aren’t teaching

Paul Horton: History Matters: The C3 Social Studies Standards are Fool’s Gold

A Brief History of Social Studied by Diane Ravitch – 5 pages & wonderful
Where Did Social Studies Go Wrong? Fordham Foundation

Towards a Rational Historiography – Lionel Gossman

New York Social Studies Framework
NY Social Studies Framework K-12 – Introduction (pdf file)
NY Social Studies Framework K-8
NY Social Studies Framework 9-12


I wonder how much he’s spent on flipped classrooms.

Seattle pushes back on Common Core Standards and high stakes testing 

Republican National Committee Resolution concerning Common Core


I know so little about the mechanics of national politics that I don’t know what this portends, if anything. But I don’t see how it can be good for Common Core.

Common Core seems to be losing altitude. The fact that David Coleman, “architect of Common Core standards” and head of the College Board, apparently didn’t mention the Common Core standards during his unveiling of the new SAT tells me the ‘brand’ has been pretty seriously damaged.

Seattle pushes back on Common Core Standards and high-stakes

This graphic from Knewton, which writer David Neilsen links to, explains the rationale behind ‘flipping’ the classroom. The goal isn’t to “engage” students (Powerpoint movies are boring) or to increase achievement (achievement won’t be measured), but to eliminate the teacher as “sage on the stage.” Or, because the teacher-sage can’t be eliminated altogether–not if you want students to pass Regents examinations–to banish the act of explicit instruction out of sight, in the student’s home. Explicit instruction is rejected by education schools. In their ed-school classes, aspiring teachers and administrators are told that students must teach themselves via “inquiry,” “discovery,” “problem-solving,” “collaboration,” and the occasional “struggle.” The correct role for the teacher, they learn, is as “guide on the side,” not “sage on the stage.” Guide-on-the-sidery is the core belief, the core message, and the core teaching of the education programs all public-school teachers and administrators are required to attend. It is also the core teaching of  the “professional development” provided by education schools and their graduates. In all likelihood this group of teachers singing about becoming guides on the side thanks to Common Core wrote their song at a professional development workshop. The dream of the flipped classroom is the dream of finally removing the teacher from the front of the classroom forever.


Flipped classroom - complete - Knewton

Source: Knewton Infographics

UPDATE: Mathematics teacher Vern Williams responds: One of our local high schools started the flipped classroom strategy and both students and parents pretty much rebelled. I was asked to tutor former students taking Algebra 2 who had been outstanding “real” Algebra 1 students. I actually encourage my students to hang out on Khan’s site but only because many of his lessons are interesting and can serve as an excellent supplement. An important part of teaching and learning math is the interaction among students with their peers and teacher WHILE learning is occurring, not a day after the fact. And that even assumes that quality learning occurred while watching videos with no opportunity for questions. The guide on the side folks have been trying to separate me from my students for the past forty years. They accuse you of being the sage on the stage because you dare attempt to teach. If flipped classrooms are being pushed by educrats and colleges of education, beware.

Vern Williams is something of a legend in ‘instructivist’ circles. He teaches algebra to gifted 8th grade students, served on President Bush’s National Mathematics Advisory Board, and was I believe the sole classroom teacher involved in writing the Common Core math standards. Two of his articles in the Times:

Perhaps the best way to convey how rigorous the humanities are at Hunter is to list some of the texts that 7th graders read in their humanities class a few years ago. Students read widely from original sources such as The Prince by Machiavelli, The Republic by Plato, and Two Treatises on Civil Government by John Locke (as well as many other, less well-known, documents of similar difficulty).
A realistic view of Hunter College High

Students reading well above and well below grade-band level need additional support. Students for whom texts within their text complexity grade band (or even from the next higher band) present insufficient challenge must be given the attention and resources necessary to develop their reading ability at an appropriately advanced pace. On the other hand, students who struggle greatly to read texts within (or even below) their text complexity grade band must be given the support needed to enable them to read at a grade-appropriate level of complexity.
Appendix A: Research Supporting Key Elements of the [Common Core] Standards p9

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in early 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually (in July 2009) revealed the names of the 29 members of the “Standards Development Work Group” … in response to complaints from parents and others about the CCSSI’s lack of transparency.


What did the ELA Work Group look like? Its make-up was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary English/reading classes?

CCSSI also released in July 2009 the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group.” This group included one English professor and one high-school English teacher. But it was made clear that these people would have only an advisory role – final decisions would be made for ELA by the English teacher-bereft ELA Work Group. Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored, according to the one English professor on this group, without explanation. Because both Work Groups labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, their reasons for making the decisions they did are lost to history.

The two lead writers for the grade-level ELA standards were David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, neither of whom had experience teaching English either in K-12 or at the college level. Nor had either of them ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither had a reputation for scholarship or research; they were virtually unknown to the field of English language arts. But they had been chosen to transform ELA education in the U.S. Who recommended them and why, we still do not know. Interestingly, no one in the media commented on their lack of credentials for the task they had been assigned. Indeed, no one in the media showed the slightest interest in the qualifications of the standards writers.

Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee
Sandra Stotsky
Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas
Paper given at a conference at University of Notre Dame
September 9, 2013

Excerpt from Sandra Stotsky’s The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum:


The Brearley School is a highly regarded private school for academically strong girls in Manhattan. Brearley’s intellectually rigorous and coherent literature curriculum is the kind of curriculum that should be available in our public schools to a majority of students starting in grade 8 or 9. The amont of writing done and responded to by teachers in thie particular private school may well reflect the low teacher-student ratios that high tuition makes possible, but the rationale for the titles assigned is independent of tuition costs.

Grade 6

  • Folk Tales (summer reading continued into the fall): A large number are read and a few are selected for class discussion. They include: “The Valiant Chattee-Maker” (Indian), “The Young Head of the Family” (Chinese), and “The Wonderful Tar-Baby” (African-American).
  • Ballads: Five Scottish ballads—“Sir Patrick Spens,” “Edward, Edward,” “Mary Hamilton,” “The Twa Corbies,” and “Barbra Allen,” the last two having available English counterparts.
  • Book of Genesis, King James Version, with some abridgement.
  • Greek mythology, based on selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The Iliad, and The Homeric Hymns.
  • The Odyssey

The grade 6 curriculum, like the curricula of other grades, is the product of the collective wisdom of many teachers over many years. All Brearley teachers teach at three or four different grade levels simultaneously. While such variety refreshes the teacher, it serves a more important purpose. It means that students receive instruction from teachers who know what their students will go on to learn and what they have already learned; texts read in one grade can be confidently referred to in another grade.

Brearley’s middle school literature curriculum (part 1)
Brearley’s middle school literature curriculum (part 2)

From the Core Knowledge sequence for Grade 8:

Note: The poems listed here constitute a selected core of poetry for this grade. You are encouraged to expose students to more poetry, old and new, and to have students write their own poems. Students should examine some poems in detail, discussing what the poems mean as well as asking questions about the poet’s use of language.

  • Buffalo Bill’s (e.e. cummings)
  • Chicago (Carl Sandburg)
  • Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night (Dylan Thomas)
  • How do I love thee? (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
  • How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix (Robert Browning)
  • I dwell in possibility; Apparently with no surprise (Emily Dickinson)
  • The Lake Isle of Innisfree (William B. Yeats)
  • Lucy Gray (or Solitude); My Heart Leaps Up (William Wordsworth) Mending Wall; The Gift Outright (Robert Frost)
  • Mr. Flood’s Party (Edward Arlington Robinson)
  • Polonius’s speech from Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” (William Shakespeare)
  • Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
  • Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee. . .” (William Shakespeare) Spring and Fall (Gerald Manley Hopkins)
  • A Supermarket in California (Allen Ginsberg) Theme for English B (Langston Hughes)
  • We Real Cool (Gwendolyn Brooks)


  • Review:
  • Meter
  • Iamb
  • Rhyme scheme
  • Free verse
  • Couplet
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Review:
  • Forms:
  • Ballad
  • Sonnet
  • Lyric
  • Narrative
  • Limerick
  • Haiku stanzas and refrains
  • Types of rhyme:
  • End
  • Internal
  • Slant
  • Eye
  • Metaphor and simile, including extended and mixed metaphors
  • Imagery, symbol, personification
  • Allusion
  • Review:
  • Forms: ballad, sonnet, lyric, narrative, limerick, haiku
  • Stanzas and refrains
  • Types of rhyme: end, internal, slant, eye
  • Metaphor and simile
  • Extended and mixed metaphors
  • Imagery, symbol, personification

Fiction, Nonfiction, and Drama

  • “The Bet” (Anton Chekov)
  • “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • “God Sees the Truth But Waits” (Leo Tolstoy)
  • “An Honest Thief” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
  • “The Open Boat” (Stephen Crane)


  • Animal Farm (George Orwell)
  • The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)


  • Review:
  • Plot and setting
  • Theme
  • Point of view in narration: omniscient narrator, unreliable narrator, third person limited, first person
  • Conflict: external and internal suspense and climax
  • Characterization
  • As delineated through a character’s thoughts, words, and deeds; through the narrator’s description; and through what other characters say
  • Flat and round; static and dynamic motivation
  • Protagonist and antagonist
  • Tone and diction


  • “Ask not what your country can do for you” (John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address)
  • “I have a dream”; “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • “Death of a Pig” (E. B. White)
  • “The Marginal World” (Rachel Carson)

Note: See also History 8: The Kennedy Years, re J. F. Kennedy; The Civil Rights Movement, re M. L. King, Jr.; and, Emergence of Environmentalism, re Rachel Carson.

  • Selections (such as chapters 2 and 16) from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)


  • Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)


  • Review:
  • Tragedy and comedy
  • Aspects of conflict, suspense, and characterization soliloquies and asides
  • Farce and satire
  • Aspects of performance and staging
  • Actors and directors
  • Sets, costumes, props, lighting, music presence of an audience


  • Irony: verbal, situational, dramatic
  • Flashbacks and foreshadowing
  • Hyperbole, oxymoron, parody

Core Knowledge ELA (poems, stories, fables): Grade 1
Core Knowledge ELA (assigned reading & topics of study): Grade 8
The Brearley School’s English literature program, gr6-8 (part 1)

E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Sequence is the education I thought my children would receive when we moved to Irvington. The Core Knowledge Sequence is a coherent, sequential, cumulative, content-rich K-8 education in the liberal arts disciplines, developed and vetted by disciplinary specialists.

Administrators could dramatically raise the quality of Irvington curriculum overnight by adopting the Core Knowledge sequence. E.D. Hirsch didn’t write the Common Core standards, but he is a strong supporter, and his Core Knowledge sequence meets the standards and then some.

And, of course, we would have something real to show prospective home buyers.

Here’s the Core Knowledge sequence:

As a point of comparison, here are the complete NYSED Common Core Standards:

Massachusetts state ELA standards:

State standards & reports

Robert Pondiscio on Reading Workshop (scroll down)
A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like
By MOTOKO RICH August 29, 2009

Call me E.D. Hirsch
Nonfiction Curriculum Enhanced Reading Skills, Study Finds
By Anna M. Phillips March 11, 2012

Sandra Stotsky on students choosing their own books in English class

What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students
in American Schools 2012 | Renaissance Learning
What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in
..American Schools 2013 | Renaissance Learning

What do home buyers want?
Curriculum & property values
Children choosing books
E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Sequence by grade
Per pupil spending

UPDATE 9/19/2013: Our 8th-grade math scores are terrific. Will get a table up soon, but in the meantime, I’ve uploaded all scores for Westchester County Schools.

Per pupil spending:  $28,436 % Levels 1 & 2 % Levels 3 & 4
Grade 3 ELA 45% 55%
Grade 3 Math 39.8% 60.2%
Grade 4 ELA 25.4% 74.7%
Grade 4 Math 33.8% 66.1%
Grade 5 ELA 38.1% 61.8%
Grade 5 Math 38.1% 61.9%
Grade 6 ELA 25.9% 74.1%
Grade 6 Math 32.1% 67.9%
Grade 7 ELA 50% 50%
Grade 7 Math 39.6% 60.5%
Grade 8 ELA 43.2% 56.7%
Grade 8 Math 31.9% 68.1%

Irvington Scores | 2013 ELA and Mathematics

The tests don’t seem to have been released, but you can see sample questions below.  (Source: New York State Common Core Sample Questions).

UPDATE 8/31/2013:
Some Test Items have been released.

Also relevant: IUFSD’s 21-page Strategic Plan from September 2008, which deliberately omits a college-readiness goal. The administration and then-board were asked to include college readiness amongst the goals, and the answer was ‘no.’

Common Core Sample Questions

English Language Arts (ELA)


Grade 3 ELA (626KB) Grade 3 Math (420KB)
Grade 4 ELA (640KB) Grade 4 Math (520KB)
Grade 5 ELA (663KB) Grade 5 Math (440KB)
Grade 6 ELA (715KB) Grade 6 Math (524KB)
Grade 7 ELA (633KB) Grade 7 Math (542KB)
Grade 8 ELA (638KB) Grade 8 Math (283KB)

Image from What big drop in new standardized test scores really means
By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 7 at 5:00 am

And see:
School Performance
Common Core Sample Questions
Test Manuals for School Administrators and Teachers

New York Times | New York’s Common Core Test Scores August 8, 2013
Message from Commissioner King
Office of State Assessment
State Education Department Releases Grades 3-8 Assessment Results
Release of Data – August 7, 2013

No longer can a teacher be the sage on the stage
Common Core essential standards change how we teach
Become a guide on the side to engage
Common Core essential standards change how we teach

Focus on student engagement
Practices communication
Relevant data yes
Common Core essential standards change how we teach

No list of algorithms to memorize
Common Core essential standards change how we teach
Graphing calculators and real-world ties
Common Core essential standards change how we teach


These teachers are singing about constructivism.

Why Minimally Guided Teaching Techniques Do Not Work:
A Reply to Commentaries

Why educationists want to flip the classroom

The two dads in the video appear to be looking at the Zaner-Bloser Voices series.

Good Neighbors Theme Package
Sample Unit Zaner-Bloser Voices Literature & Writing 1
Common Core State Standards | Alignment to Voices

Question: How much time and energy is going into APPR?

Answer: A lot.

  • A focus on academic achievement
  • Clear curriculum choices
  • Frequent assessment of student progress and multiple opportunities for improvement
  • An emphasis on nonfiction writing
  • Collaborative scoring of student work

High Performance in High Poverty Schools 90/90/90 and Beyond
Douglas Reeves

Beefed-up teacher evaluations do not appear on this list.

APPR will not raise student achievement.

13 years of school, 100+ standards per year, 10+ standards per month.

2.5 standards per week.

0.5 standards per day.

Who’s Minding the Schools? by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus | New York Times | Published: June 8, 2013

In today’s New York Times:

“Who’s Minding the Schools?” quoted from a Common Core English Language Arts test given to New York State eighth-grade students. The test challenged the students to draw a conclusion from the following text:

“Local pride in the preservation of cultural things that belong to the old days should be stimulated wherever possible, particularly in the minority groups. Remember that the Anglo-Saxon music that we are inclined to think of as the only ‘American’ kind is a relatively recent importation on this continent, exactly as the Hungarian, Finnish, and Armenian folk musics are.”

The correct answer is F, for the test’s own failing grade. What does it say about an English Language Arts test partly written in prose so clumsy that one hopes it will never be imitated by students taking the exam?

Katonah, N.Y., June 10, 2013

LETTERS | Will Common Core Improve Schools? Published: June 11, 2013

(hat tip: David Graeber)

The question below is drawn from the New York Common Core assessments, 8th grade test. (NOTE: The goal is to answer the question correctly without reading the passage it’s based on.)

Why does the author write that the Portuguese and the Spanish have been in California longer than the “Americans?”

A. to broaden the reader’s idea of what should be considered “American” folk music

B. to argue that Hungarian, Finnish, and Armenian folk musics are not truly American

C. to suggest that “American” folk music is music that has not been imported to the continent

D. to convince the reader that the Portuguese and Spanish should not be considered minority groups in California

Common Core | Raisin in the Sun
Common Core “Illustrative Texts”
New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

Compare to this partial list of books Irvington 7th graders read during Fall 2011:

IUFSD gr7 LucyCalkins books
What do home buyers want?

Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky on ELA Standards and College Readiness

Core Knowledge Sequence Content & Skill Guidelines for Grades K–8

An English Language Arts Curriculum Framework for American Public Schools: A Model For use by any state or school district without charge | Chief author: Sandra Stotsky Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas | February 2013

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo