Showing posts with label public school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public school. Show all posts

Why I Despise Common Core

Last year when we homeschooled I pretty much put together my own curriculum and lessons.  However, I also used Time for Learning to ensure that I was covering everything the public schools were covering.  I simply added in my own projects, books, and ways of teaching to the material.  Time 4 Learning is a common core curriculum.  I had no issue with any of the subjects except for math.  Now that A is back in school I still have no issues with any of the subjects except for math.

But I really, really, really hate the math.

Let me give you an example.

36 divided by 3.  Let's say you don't have this memorized.  So, you would write it out and put 3 into 3 one time and then 3 into 6 two times and you get 12.

Well, with common core you do this:

You break 36 into two numbers that are both divisible by 3.  Then you create this equation:

(3 x 10) + (3 x 2)

Then you add the 10 and the 2 to get 12.


Yeah we had this for homework the other night.  And they did not want the answer to 36/3.  They wanted the equation you use to find 12.  I had to call the special ed teacher the next day and have him explain it to me.  She had two pages of this kind of confusion and we worked for hours and hours.  Finally, she went to bed without having it all complete.  There was just way too much frustration and anxiety.

If you think I am kidding here is a picture of the homework:

They say that this helps to teach them WHY 36/3=12.  To me, it seems like they are trying to teach them short cuts they can do in their heads in order to try and turn them into little computer processing machines.  They want our kids to go paperless.

I don't think I am just stuck in my ways either because it's not just me and my kid having this issue.  The majority of people I talk to have the same problem.  Common Core math has you take this big round about way to arrive at answers.  It's like going 10 blocks out of your way to get to a store that's right at the end of your block.  It's nonsensical.  It doesn't teach WHY.  I know why.  If you break 36 up into 3 parts each of those parts will have 12 pieces.  It makes sense.  I know when I say that 3 goes into 3 one time I am really saying that 3 goes into 30  ten times.  I don't need to create a 14 step problem in order to "get it."  Honestly, I still don't understand how creating that problem makes anything more clear.

If you want to know the WHY about math you can watch Khan Academy videos.  He explains why as he teaches you.  You can also read Life of Fred.  I am sure there are many other resources that explain the why.  I learned math the old way and I always understood why.

I call BS on the Common Core's reason for teaching this way.

What else do I hate?  I hate that the kids take a big, long, stressful assessment in the beginning of the year on things they did not learn yet.  They come out of school crying and feeling stupid.  They do this to see how well the kids improve and thus grade and critique the teachers.   My son who is very self controlled all the time had a melt down in class after taking that test.  They do another assessment half way through and another one at the end.  Plus, they have other standardized tests to take.  All the kids do is test and prepare for tests.  There is no room for fun in learning anymore.  More kids are hating school than ever before.  Teachers who love teaching cannot even enjoy their work.  They don't have any room to be the creative and awesome beings that they are.

If you want to turn out geniuses, you have to turn out kids that love to learn.  If you turn them off to the whole pursuit they'll just go get some mindless job and waste away.  If I did not know better, I would think that was Common Core's secret mission: To make kids feel so stupid and so miserable about learning that they resign themselves to a life of servitude, a life of flipping burgers and making lattes and never questioning, inventing, or creating anything.

My daughter came out on her evaluation in 3rd grade as having a math disability.  But does she?  She was great at math up until mid second grade.  Then she just got completely lost.  But in 4th grade I kept her home and started over teaching her math from first grade and went up through 4th.  I taught her the way I knew but we also did the Common Core lessons on Time 4 Learning.  The thing was I let her use whatever method worked for her to find the answers and she would find them most of the time.  She was able to learn and for the most part retain 4 years worth of math.  Does she really have a disability?  Or did the Common Core just set her back?

It kills me that Common Core was not even created by educators and that two of the educators who were hired to review what was created and give input were dismissed when they said there were some key components missing from the curriculum.  (See this in the documentary here.) It also kills me that most teachers do not like Common Core.  I have not found a "fan" of Common Core yet!

Here is a blog post from a teacher and mom about her feelings on Common Core.

NBC News even chimed in on Facebook!

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7 Ways The First Day of School is Like a Heavy Metal Concert

I guess I'm really going to have to change the name of this blog.  Both my kids are in public school now and they started today.  I want to pour my heart out in this post and explore all my conflicted feelings along with all of my founded and unfounded fears, but instead I will tell you why going to the first day of school is like attending a heavy metal concert.

I attended a lot of hard rock shows back in the day and dropping my kids off this morning brought back those memories for me in the seven following ways.

1) When you get there, nobody really knows where they should be going.  They all just follow the big mob.  
Photo by Enric Turull Source

           2) There is a feeling of excitement in the air but nobody looks happy.

3) Everyone pushes towards the front of the entrance, the way concert goers move towards the stage.  Unless you plan on starting a mosh pit, you are unable to to move in any direction.
4) It's intimidating!  Everyone is scary and you're not sure if you really belong.

5) There is no order.  It is total ANARCHY!  Nobody is lining up on the first day or watching their behavior.  All last year's conditioning is gone. Social norms are out the window.  There are kids and parents and backpacks and pencils everywhere with no regard for the powers that be.

6) The press.  The paparazzi parents are all over on the first day of school.  If you're not careful you'll be blinded by flashes and you might find yourself in the background of a gazillion Facebook photos in the most unflattering of positions.
7) Finally, it is LOUD. Between the

 7) Finally, it is LOUD. Between the squeals of happy tweens greeting their friends and the wails of crying preschoolers wanting their moms, your ears could be ringing for the rest of the day.

squeals of happy tweens greeting their friends and the wails of crying preschoolers wanting their moms, your ears could be ringing for the rest of the day.
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It's The End of the World as We Know It and I Feel???

So, I figure I should share this here. I decided to homeschool my daughter last year because I was unhappy with her school.  She wasn't learning, had major anxiety, and I felt like she was not getting the support she needed.  I knew she had a learning disability since first grade but it took until the summer going into fourth after providing endless paperwork from doctors and private therapists followed by what I felt like was me throwing a tantrum for them to evaluate her and see this for themselves.  Some of the kids were bullies and I also felt that my daughter was discriminated against because of her disabilities.

Homeschooling was something I always believed in and wanted to do but I doubted myself and went along with the status quo for far too long.  Before taking her out, I tried to get her into the school across town.  They didn't have room for her so I kept her home and I was happy about it because I knew nobody was going to be able to teach her like I could.  As a mom, I understand how my daughter thinks and I could give her one on one attention all day long.

Being home was great.  I caught her up where she was behind and allowed her to zoom ahead in areas she excelled in.  We met other homeschoolers and fell in love with that community. I got to bond with my child in a way I hadn't been able to since she started school at four years old.  It was all about her and about us together every day, all day.

There were hard parts, too.  One was that I had to work nights and therefore hardly slept.  We had less money because I worked less.  I put most of my energy into lesson plans and teaching and only what was left over into working. I also missed out on helping out at my son's school because I was busy teaching A at home.

I decided I would leave next year up to fate.  If she got into the other school this year she'd go and if not we'd be home again. I felt like I was leaving it in God's hands.

Well, she got in.  So now I am not a homeschooling mom anymore.  Not that I did not always teach my kids at home outside of school hours anyway, but still, it feels weird. It's like I had a big H on my chest and someone just ripped it off.  I may even start working outside the home now, too.  I have been working from home (see Work at Home Wisdom) for a decade now!  I have even been writing about working from home for a decade.  It is such a big part of who I am.  I'm sure I'll still do some part time work from my home office but I always said I'd go back to social services when both my kids were in school full time.  Being of service was always a big part of who I was as well.  I've missed it a lot, missed having that connection to people and feeling like I'm helping.  It's a true passion.

So, big changes are afoot.  We are feeling both scared and excited.  That being said  if my DD doesn't learn or her anxiety or health issues return, she'll be back home with me again.  This is all experimental and in the end we have to do what works best for her.

I'm not going to give up this blog either.  I have lots to say about parenting. learning disabilities, and family in general. Quite frankly, I love it here. I also won't stop finding great learning resources, using them with my kids, and posting them.  Like I said, I have always done that. This space has also become a place where I can try to raise awareness for Dyspraxia, another passion of mine.  I am debating on whether I should change the blog's name though. I'll wait and see how everything unfolds.

This whole thing is really an emotional roller coaster.  One minute I feel happy, the next I feel sad.   A is the same. She said, "I don't know how to feel, Mom."  There is the excitement of her being in school for 5th grade.  They are the oldest kids in the school with lots of great trips, awards, and ceremonies. This school has a drama club and a talent show and many other things A will be interested in.  The principal who happens to have gone to high school with my husband (in another state, what are the odds?) is amazing as are the other teachers I have met.  But then there is the fact that although she knows some of the kids there from various activities, none of them are in her social circle of close friends that she has sleepovers and playdates with so she's a bit nervous.  We don't know how she will do academically, especially in math being that she has dyscalculia.  We also don't know how it will be with the auditory processing which got in the way a lot before and even affected her Iowa tests this year (she did not hear them say she could use scrap paper!).  Mostly, we'll miss being together.

To be continued....
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Storybook Character Day

I know this blog is about homeschooling, but I have another child who is in public school kindergarten.  This kid is my brilliant, athletic, funny, amazing son, C.  I was able to get him into the school across town, which I liked a lot better than the one in our neighborhood.  They did not have room to take A but they did have room for him in his grade.  The school is pretty great.  This is due mainly to the parents.  They have a PTA that is just fantastic.  There are always excellent activities and clubs happening for the kids.  The whole atmosphere is just so positive and fun.  The principal is really good over there, too.

I am still not crazy about common core or public school in general.  C needs speech therapy and I am really not happy with those services either.  But C is in kindergarten and he is very happy and has lot of friends.  He's thriving right now with an excellent teacher so things are good.

Anyway, tomorrow is Dress Like a Storybook Character Day at school.  When he told me, I started running through possibilities in my mind, like of possibly using his Halloween costume and I began wondering if a Power Ranger even counted as a storybook character.  Before I could even finish my thought, he informed me that he was going to use his magician hat and be "the guy from Alice in Wonderland with the tea."  I was pretty surprised and extremely proud that he came up with such a great idea all by himself.

Here is my baby as the Mad Hatter!

Pictures removed for privacy

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"A Bird Pooped on My Mom's Shirt" (Public School Joys)

As I have previously mentioned, this is the first year I am homeschooling at all.  I homeschool my fourth grade daughter.  My son goes to public kindergarten.

Upon picking up said son from school this afternoon, I was told that he wrote a story about me in class today.  Now being that he is in kindergarten, they are not expected to know how to spell everything.  They are just supposed to stretch the words and do the best they can.  Still, I was touched that he had decided to write about me, his mommy. 

After piling into the car, belting in, and commencing driving, I asked C what he had written about exactly.  He said, "I wrote, 'I went to the boardwalk with my family and a bird pooped on my mom's shirt."  He and my daughter then laughed hysterically for the rest of the ride home.

My first question was, "Did your teacher know what it said?"  I figured there was a chance that, since they are on their own with trying to sound out the words, nobody would know what it meant. 

He said, "She didn't know until I read it aloud to the whole class. Oh also, I made a picture so she could see it."

Next question: "What did she say when you read it aloud and showed her the picture?"

Answer: "She, and the whole class, laughed."

Okay, well laughing is good, I guess.  I'm glad my bird poop misfortune has brought joy to the students and staff.  At least he's not in trouble.

"Wait, C, one more thing.  It's not hanging up in the hallway or anything, right?"


"Phew, okay.  So, can I see it then?"

"No, Mrs. B said she is going to show it to a special teacher."

A special teacher?  Uh oh!  My first thought was, "OMG, he's in trouble!"  But after more questioning it sounded like all the kids' papers are going to the special teacher so I am thinking (hoping) maybe it is to look at where they are with their writing.  Still, of all the things to be passed around and analyzed why oh why did it have to be this one?

Another, often overlooked, benefit to homeschooling is definitely PRIVACY!

(The picture above is not the original picture he made since that is with "the special teacher."  This one he made just moments ago to show off to me what he had done in school.  He is very, very amused by the whole situation and loves how he made the whole class laugh.  I only hope this does not encourage him further- the kid definitely has a lot of dirt on me...)
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