indiana lyrics
Lyrics to unofficial Indiana state song

 

 

An Indiana grandfather wrote to me about his Common Core experience with his granddaughter.  This is what Common Core looks like in his home:

Apologies to whoever wrote “Back Home Again In Indiana” (the best known song playing tribute to the Hoosier state).  As you know, Indiana supposedly rejected Common Core.  Our third-grader brought home her Math text.  It is entitled “enVison MATH”, subtitle “COMMON CORE”, Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, published by Pearson Education, copyright 2012.

 

We are grandparents who had to take in her and her little brother last winter.  WE helped her with her homework in 2nd grade and she was starting to do well in addition and subtraction.  Now this.  She can’t finish her classroom assignment using the text and has to bring it home to finish.  Her little friend who is in fifth grade said they had that when she was in third and she couldn’t do it either.

 

I think there has been a whitewash of the whole thing in Indiana and I think the statists have such control nationally and that educators, even ones who know better, are so beholden to the Feds, that they will not abandon the curricula, nor the data-mining, nor the “digital learning” schemes.

 

Thanks for listening,

 

Bob
Does anyone have any advice for this grandfather?  His granddaughter’s frustration appears to be authentic based on these textbook reviews.  He confirmed this is the book his granddaughter uses:

 

envision math

 

envision math reviews
Garbage in, garbage out
This book is a piece of junk. The subjects that are taught in this book are simple. Yet, the author makes everything so hard by trying to teach concepts instead of mechanics. I can teach my stepson what he needs to know in 20 minutes. Yet this text obfuscates the issues so horribly, it’s putting the next generation’s math skills in jeopardy. If you ever hear the word “Common Core” used in your child’s education, don’t walk, run to a better school. I wish I could, but, due to finances, I’m stuck. Thanks for gumming up all the works.

 

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It is after I read the load of BS that this load of <beep> is trying to sell to our children that I finally understood why American students hate and suck at math. There are infinite ways to drive through a subject of pure guided intuition like math. You can be sure that this book will take the most counter-intuitive, convoluted and byzantine. Something as simple as an addition will be stretched for tens of pages (the book must be sold by weight), and designed to sound as obscure and boring as possible. The author of this bull should be hanged, shot and beheaded just to be sure he will not come back to haunt the generations he is irrecoverably scarring. I have seen a lot of shoddy textbooks, but this beats them all by a mile. The fact that this BS is what the government is mandating in every public school makes me fuming. In the family we all have advanced degrees in scientific subjects and are all trained in advanced math, but some of the concepts of this book required a double take. How can you expect third graders to go through this without feelings of inadequacy and rejection for a subject presented to them in the most aseptic and alien way. Stay away! Miles away if you can!
 

 

There are two positive reviews on the book defending the math. The review below is rather extensive and written by a parent who:
  • likes spiraling math
  • apparently has a child who uses English as a first language with no language delays and can easily produce written language to explain a math function
  • has the financial/time resources available to help her child understand the math
  • has a math degree

The review may actually give readers a deeper understanding on why a grandfather without a math background is experiencing difficulty in helping his granddaughter:

Reasonable Choice for Teaching Math
It’s unfortunate that the other reviews are mostly attacks on Common Core, rather than actual reviews of the usefulness of this particular book in teaching math. The exact methods and problems used are created by textbook companies, so if you don’t like them, hate on Addison-Wesley. Common Core just says what students should be able to do by the end of a grade, not HOW they must do it. (And, most states already had standards in place before Common Core, you just didn’t realize it until they had a fancy name).So I’that said, ll attempt to provide some useful information about THIS book.

Background:

We bought this book primarily because our school district uses the enVision curriculum, and I thought it would be easier for my daughter to transition from the 2nd grade in-school math curriculum to doing the 3rd math curriculum at home if we were using the familiar system. I also got a teacher’s manual (on CD) and some games-or-something (also on CD), but we’ve never actually needed to use them because the student textbook provides decent explanation.

What’s in the Book:

The curriculum for 3rd grade has 20 topics, each of which contains 4-10 lessons around a theme, such as Adding Whole Numbers (topic 2) or Solids and Shapes (topic 10) up through Dividing with 1-Digit Numbers (topic 19).

Each separate lesson begins with a short explanation of the concept the lesson is based on which explains the underlying concept, and shows how the answer to the sample problem is derived. It’s usually very graphical. There are then usually 4-5 “Guided Practice” problems which are intended for the instructor to lead the child through, or discuss together. The last 2 of these are often asking the student to explain in their own words a key concept of the lesson, and perhaps a word problem. This is followed by a bunch of Independent Practice problems where the student works some equations, and then a set of word problems from which the student must derive the equation to be solved. Usually there are 1 or 2 problems that require a written explanation.

Once per topic there’s usually an entire lesson devoted to problem solving. Each topic also has an assessment with 10-12 problems and then a page of reteaching problems.

I’ve found the lessons to be easy to use. It may, however, be useful to note that (a) I studied a lot of math myself in school; (b) I’ve taught 6th grade math using the “new” methodologies, so I have a sense where this is all going; and (c) I’ve formally studied the latest ideas on the teaching of math. So, in a nutshell, I may be coming at this from a different perspective than others.

Some noteworthy points:
* The assessments are really very short. I’d like them to have more problems. (Perhaps more are available on the teacher’s manual which I have not accessed.) Also, the reteaching materials are pretty skimpy. Both of these issues could be helped by actually buying the workbook, which we did not do. We extended lessons by using Khan Academy online; this would also be a good source for any necessary reteaching if you were using this book.

* Also, spiraling curriculum is nice, but it does make it so that topics seem to jump around a lot. This wasn’t a problem for my daughter, who actually liked jumping around, but might be for children who struggle more with math. But it also leads to the feeling like you’re not going into depth in any one topic before moving on. I assume the idea is to build greater depth on each pass through an area, but since I don’t have the 2nd or 4th grade curriculums, I can’t really see the whole picture.

* It’s worth noting that some lessons ask the students to make use of manipulatives which are not included with the textbook. We have made do without these or substituted toys we already own (fortunately we own a lot of blocks). There has been a fair amount of drawing of pictures, but comparatively far less than in other curriculums (IME, not as much as in Math Expressions). I’m personally a fan of diagrams and drawings to illustrate concepts, though they do take more time to complete than equations.

I would say it’s a safe bet that most parents are not math educators and many may not have the resources to work as diligently with their child as the above reviewer so they can understand the spiraling math.  Is this the future for parents and grandparents like Bob?  Make math so difficult for their young children that the only ones who can help them are the teachers and those who understand this one method of math problem solving?  If you believe the anecdotal stories from parents all over the country, many of the children are experiencing extreme frustration and are hating math.  It’s beyond their developmental development capacity at such an early age.  But, what do these parents and children matter?   Where is the alternative instruction for their personalized learning style?
Published October 7, 2014

 

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