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Old 20 August 2013, 08:48 AM
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Default Newest wingnut fad: Obama decrees that 3X4=11

http://wonkette.com/526127/newest-wi...11#more-526127

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Fire up the Debunk-O-Matic 5000 and get ready to start sending your wingnut co-workers to snopes.com, folks! Fox & Friends and the American Patriarchy Associationís Bryan Fischer are among several conservative outlets pitching a selectively edited video that appears to show Illinois school official Amanda August saying that under the Common Core standards, it wonít matter whether a student thinks three times four equals eleven or twelve, as long as the student can explain why they came up with their answer.
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Old 20 August 2013, 12:13 PM
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I already ranted about this on Facebook, so here's what I said there:

Really? Really? We're calling the CCSS "Obama math" now and deciding that because we're focused on student understanding instead of rote memorization, we're somehow expecting incorrect results? This is seriously the most insane right-wing educational conspiracy I've seen about CCSS. If you want to attack the Common Core, attack the incredibly rigorous expectations.

And really, it's not accepting 3 x 4 is 11. It's asking kids to explain why they think that and then nudging them towards the right answer by showing them how to find it, instead of just telling them. Basically, we're teaching kids how to learn, instead of just teaching them.

Also note that the CCSS were developed largely by the National Governor's Association. "The position of NGA chair alternates yearly between Republican and Democratic governors, so that neither party can control the position for two consecutive years. The vice chair is usually of the opposite party to the chair, and generally assumes the role of chair the following year." (Wiki) So no, not Obama's doing. The ball for this started rolling during Bush the Second.
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Old 20 August 2013, 02:45 PM
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Even one of my most hard core right wing friends thought the meme going around was stupid, and basically said he agreed with that method of teaching (getting the child to explain why they thought the answer was what it was and nudging them towards the correct answer, if I'm understanding correctly). And his kids are all home schooled because they don't trust the school system.
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Old 20 August 2013, 02:57 PM
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Even if you want to make it a partisan issue, it's way older than Obama. I'm as hard-core as you'll find, but even I know that you grade on concepts and facts.
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Old 20 August 2013, 03:18 PM
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Yeah.. the wingnuts are crazy, but I believe they are right for the wrong reasons. Countries that have consistently done better in Maths & Sciences use heavy rote memorization in early grades. Problem solving & analysis comes in later grades.

US schools spend a lot more time turning math into story time. US also spends a lot more per student on education without good results. Inexplicably, US schools keep moving the in the wrong direction. I'd seriously like to see why the US school system keeps going in this direction. Is there any evidence that at the early grade level spending a lot of time on why 3x4=12 is a lot more effective than simply rote drilling of the multiplication table?

From the research I have seen, learning early math is like learning a language, and you need internalization of basic concepts before moving to higher concepts. You need constant repetition to have it internalized. For example, fractional arithmetic becomes lot more easier if you can multiply, divide and find prime factors without thinking about it.

TO be fair, Asian countries do a lot more rote memorization than they should, to the point that outside math, teachers basically give an answer book to the students that the students. I'm not defending that. Asian schools have swung the pendulum too far in one direction, and that's why IMO, western students tend to be have better problem solving skills than eastern students. However, the US public education keeps swinging the pendulum in the other direction
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Old 20 August 2013, 04:28 PM
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One of the things we do is group work, and with the kids working on chart paper so they can explain to the rest of the class. You circulate and monitor their progress. Often just asking them to explain the process they're using can help them realize their faulty logic; other times it takes a question or two. It's called the three part lesson: you show something, they work on it, then everyone gets together, shares results, and we write down what we learned. It's really good but it takes up a lot of time so I can't use it as much as I'd like to.
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Old 20 August 2013, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
... and that's why IMO, western students tend to be have better problem solving skills than eastern students.
That's interesting for two opposite reasons: 1) The whole justification for continuing to take math classes is, broadly speaking, to solve problems. 2) IMO, that's the hardest part for students and teachers alike!
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Old 20 August 2013, 09:21 PM
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The whole justification for continuing to take math classes is, broadly speaking, to solve problems.
Yes, just like the whole point of reading (and writing) at lower grades is to build up the skills required to be able to learn and communicate critical thinking skills at higher grades. You don't start teaching them reading and writing by having them approach reading as problem solving challenge. You do reading by covering the basic concepts and then rote memorization and repetition. When you teach a kid that the letters M-O-M-M-Y make the sound "Mommy", you explain them how to break down a word into sounds, and go from sounds to letters. Once you have covered the basics, children basically get better at reading and writing by just doing it over and over again until they have internalized the various combinations of sounds. Kids move to problem solving and critical thinking after they have mastered reading and writing, not during.

Imagine a child who is having trouble reading at a kindergarten level independently. Let's say even though the kid might know the idea behind phonics, decoding words at kindergarten level takes a lot of energy for him. Now imagine you thrust a second grade book with longer words and longer sentences in his hand. Won't the kid have trouble with it? If you continue to keep asking him to read at second grade level, in the mistaken assumption that he can answer questions about phonics means that he has got it, won;t he be scared of reading for life?

Yet this is exactly what we do with math. Yes, it's a good idea for kids at kindergarten level to know why 3+4=7. THey should understand that if you have 3 apples, and you add 4 apples, you get 7 apples. Fine! However, once they have got that part, you nee to have them repeat it till they internalize it.

Imagine a differrent kid who is having trouble with addition. She can tell you why 3+4=7, but she has to put a lot of mental energy into it. Now, taking this kid and teach her multiplication is exactly like thrusting a second grade book to a kid who can;t read at kindergarten level. We will never do that with reading, and many people will consider it cruel. Yet, this is exactly what we do with math. It is wrong, and the US school system keeps going in the right direction

India, China, Korea are completely different. Unless you don't internalize addition, you don't move to subtraction. Unless you don't internalize subtraction you don't move to multiplication, and so on. The entire class at lower grades is basically rote memorization of tables.

End of the year there is a test conducted by the school. You fail the test, you repeat the year until you have shown that you have internalized the skill. The same goes for reading. The standardized international tests show that this technique is much more effective
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Old 20 August 2013, 11:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
India, China, Korea are completely different. Unless you don't internalize addition, you don't move to subtraction. Unless you don't internalize subtraction you don't move to multiplication, and so on. The entire class at lower grades is basically rote memorization of tables.
Unfortunately they don't teach the difficult double negative until grad school.
Quote:
End of the year there is a test conducted by the school. You fail the test, you repeat the year until you have shown that you have internalized the skill. The same goes for reading. The standardized international tests show that this technique is much more effective.
I guess the info about India comes from personal experience but I find it hard to believe this is how it's done in all of India, China, and Korea, or even on a large scale in all three countries so I wonder where you got this information.
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Old 21 August 2013, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Jay View Post
Imagine a child who is having trouble reading at a kindergarten level independently. Let's say even though the kid might know the idea behind phonics, decoding words at kindergarten level takes a lot of energy for him. Now imagine you thrust a second grade book with longer words and longer sentences in his hand. Won't the kid have trouble with it? If you continue to keep asking him to read at second grade level, in the mistaken assumption that he can answer questions about phonics means that he has got it, won;t he be scared of reading for life?[ . . . ] Now, taking this kid and teach her multiplication is exactly like thrusting a second grade book to a kid who can;t read at kindergarten level. We will never do that with reading, and many people will consider it cruel.
I commonly and routinely read books that were above my easy reading level. That's how I got better at reading. I would read the bits that made sense, and make some attempt to make sense out of the rest. I wound up a person who reads a great deal for pleasure.

If the child who has trouble with the book above his/her current reading levels is scolded, or made to feel stupid, for not being able to read it easily, that's a different matter. But it really gets my back up when children are told they mustn't try to read things that interest them because the particular book is "too hard".

For that matter, I dropped math in high school when the teacher either was unable to or unwilling to explain to me what the formulas we were using meant. I didn't understand what I was doing, and it bothered me. The teacher insisted that as long as I was getting the right answers, I must understand it. I dropped the course (I think it was calculus, I know I didn't have problems with basic algebra or geometry), and never went any further in math. -- If the teacher had said to me that I needed to learn those things by rote first so that I could later understand what they meant, I might have stuck with it; but being told that getting the right answers in the formulas was all that mattered felt to me as if I were being told that I had learned Chinese and Russian because I had memorised a table of words in Chinese that were translations of specific words in Russian, although I had no idea what any of the words actually meant. I wish I'd thought of that analogy at the time; I didn't think of it till years later. But maybe the teacher was just thinking the way you seem to be and it wouldn't have helped.

Now different teaching styles suit different people. It's quite possible that some people learn to read more easily if they're never given anything to read that has more than one or two unfamiliar words; and it's quite possible that some people learn math more easily if they're given only rote learning with no explanations until after they've got the rote down. But that certainly isn't true of everybody.
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