FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | August 31, 2013

Over at the Huffington Post, Joy Resmovits has a softball piece up on David Coleman.

It's a good study in how to use the intangibles to sell your subject. In the second sentence, she introduces the idea that Coleman is about "ideas and inquiry" by stressing how that was inculcated in his childhood. In the third sentence, she juxtaposes Coleman next to the image of Martin Luther King, Jr. These rhetorical devices provide the frame for the rest of the piece. They aren't relevant to the story, but they are useful as a signifier of authorial intent.

Two commonly repeated inaccuracies in the piece deserve special notice.

Commonly Repeated Myth One: Objection To Common Core Is Limited To The Political Fringe

From the Resmovits piece:

As schools begin to implement the Core, far-right and far-left advocates are trying to roll it back.

...
Bill Fitzgerald | August 26, 2013

Over the last few days, I have been fortunate to be one of the initial users of the beta launch of Sanderling, a "Mobile Field Journal for Educators." As part of this process, I have been collecting notes and observations of the experience.

In my use of the beta site, I used two devices: a Galaxy 3 phone running Android 4.1, and a Nexus 7 running Android 4.3. While some users have reported issues installing the app on the Nexus 7, I had no problems getting the app up and running. This beta version of the app only runs in Android 4.x.

The observations listed below are in no particular order. In an effort to have this feedback actually make sense, I took screenshots where applicable using the Nexus 7.

Overview

This overview reflects my vantage point on what Sanderling is supposed to accomplish, and the types of activities it...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 7, 2013

The results for New York State Common Core aligned tests are in.

New York State education officials anticipated that the scores would raise questions, and arranged a conference call with Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

In the call, Education Secretary Arne Duncan shared his view that the New York State test results are a demonstration of deceit on the part of school systems:

"Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities," Mr. Duncan said. "Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators."

You can't call the people within the system you lead liars, and expect them to trust you.

The blatant disrespect this shows for the people tasked with implementing the failed and poorly...

Bill Fitzgerald | August 5, 2013

Lisa Petrides, the president and founder of ISKME, has a new post up on her blog titled The Elephant in Education: Open Source Pillaging. In this post, she explains why OER Commons (one of the first - and certainly one of the best - OER repositories) is licensing the metadata around the content shared in OER Commons under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license:

Eames Elephant

Organizations like ours (and we are not alone) are having...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 24, 2013

While not widespread, a fair number of school districts have used RFID tracking devices to track the location of school kids.

From the perspective of a school or district, using RFID to track kids can have some negative side effects -- like lawsuits.

But if you roll out a 1:1 iPad program, you get to say that you are a trailblazer in 21st century learning! The fact that you can -- via Mobile Device Management -- install a GPS tracking app on a device that works like an RFID tracker is a bonus that you don't need to emphasize. It's not like a school district has ever misused "...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 20, 2013

It is difficult to keep up with the amount of misinformation spewed on a regular basis about the Common Core standards. The conversation is complicated because, depending on who is talking, the words "Common Core" can mean any one, or any combination of, the following:

  • The actual Common Core standards;
  • The curriculum aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • The tests aligned to the Common Core standards;
  • School ratings based on the tests;
  • Teacher evaluations based on the tests; and/or
  • Incentives contained within Federal Department of Education funding that paired Common Core adoption with test adoption and data collection.
Empty desks

One of the more recent examples occurred when...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 18, 2013

Update: Bruce Baker, over at School Finance 101, has a more detailed breakdown of the NCTQ report.
End Update

The National Council on Teacher Quality put out a report that is it describing as "an unprecedented evaluation of more than 1,100 colleges and universities that prepare elementary and secondary teachers."

Let's take a step back from the hyperbole and see what's going on.

Let's say your organization has a goal: undermine the work of trained, experienced educators in the classroom, and the programs that prepare them. This goal hits teachers unions, who have a large body of credentialed, trained, and experienced educators, and the...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 16, 2013

While collecting up my thoughts after the Portland Public Schools Common Core event last week, I came across this set of talking points written by the district "as a support to principals and teachers to understand State of Oregon requirements and our practices around testing."

The full doc is available for download from the Portland Public Schools site; I have also stored a copy locally (pdf download). The FAQ is dated February, 2013; it's not clear whether this document is a version that has been updated over the years, or whether these talking points were created fresh in early 2013...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 13, 2013

After attending the Portland Public Schools Common Core parent event, I've been thinking about the event, the people tasked to staff it, and the split between the Common Core standards, what our kids will be taught as a result of the adoption of these standards, and parent and community frustration at how these standards have been adopted.

One piece of feedback that I hope that people in Portland Public School District are hearing is that people want to talk about the process by which the standards were adopted. At the event last night, there was no outlet or opportunity to discuss concerns with the standards themselves. As a result, curriculum people were barraged with policy questions.

In rolling out Common Core, the district should have a series of events that focus on sample instruction within the classrooms. Focus on what kids will be doing. For what it's worth, this should be...

Bill Fitzgerald | June 13, 2013

Last night, on Tuesday, June 12th, I attended what was called a "Parent's Academy" on the in-progress Common Core rollout. The event was put on by Portland Public Schools. The goal of the event was stated clearly on one of the handouts they provided:

The purpose of our presentation tonight is to help families understand the new Common Core State Standards and how these changes will benefit your child's education. Our intent is to help you to become informed about ways you can help your child be successful.

This goal set the tone for the evening, and attempted to provide a context: the Common Core Standards are here, they will benefit your child's education, we have a plan, and you can help. The goal of the meeting was to provide a positive, forward looking message - both about the quality of Common Core, and about the ways in which the District is preparing for the rollout. As one presenter put it, "The fact is, they're here, they're adopted...

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