Tuesday, March 3, 2009

One source of Seattle's Math selection insanity

(1.) Lack of sound well developed mathematical content.

On the Seattle School's Math web-page:


Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Learning and doing mathematics are active processes in which students construct meaning through exploration and inquiry of challenging problems.

Whatever happened to that useful tool of science and the professions idea? .... Guess we have no interest in Doctors, Engineers, Plumbers, Carpenters, or Electricians, etc. .... too busy developing philosopher kings.

Professional Learning
The goals of Seattle Public Schools mathematics professional learning opportunities are to:

* Promote the use of high-leverage teaching practices at all grade levels that:
--- develop mathematical thinking and understanding
--- promote equity, relevance, and rigor in mathematics classrooms

* Deepen teachers' conceptual understanding of mathematics So how is this going to happen? Real mathematical content is avoided whenever possible. This district can not even recognize mathematically unsound materials. Look here or here for what should be happening but is not: The Mathematicians Standards Study Group paper "What is Important in school mathematics?" clearly the SPS does not know what is important in school mathematics.

* Develop teachers' expertise in using district-adopted materials to develop math learning for every student, including ELL, Special Education, and Advanced Learning students.

* Support teachers in developing professional learning communities to examine student work, respond to assessment data, and continuously improve instruction.

How about some sound mathematical content presented in an orderly well developed way?
The SPS choose ignore these Grade Level performance expectations:

Instead preferring to:
* Develop teachers' expertise in using district-adopted materials to develop math learning for every student

By emphasizing a rigid Everyday Math pacing plan k-5.
There is a belief, a deep abiding faith that in Following the EDM Pacing Plan we will all attain mathematical salvation.

It must be blind faith as the intelligent application of relevant data indicates otherwise. Bulletin this SPS direction is not working.

Developing professional learning communities in which teachers and administrators can improve their mathematical content knowledge so that they can recognize mathematical sh*t from shinola and thus begin to improve instruction by putting mathematical sound materials in the hands of teachers who know what is important in school mathematics.

The emphasis on Best Practices that are not, instead of teaching math content effectively is not working.


Anonymous said...

I'm not satisfied yet that PLCs are going to solve any problem. There is more opportunity for misuse. First, teachers have to share common prep times. Teachers that use part of their summers for PLCs can take administrative leave during the school year - meaning less time in the classroom.

Second, high schools are departmentalized. Success is measured more by how well teachers conform to each other by sharing common lesson plans for instance - so rather than innovate, teachers are hunkering down and staying on the same page on the same day and 'teaching' the standard, not the student.

This is far from good news, but all too human.

dan dempsey said...

Oh yes Professional Learning Communities .....

what is the goal?

Academic performance increases or compliance with the central office visions?

Anonymous said...

PLCs... hmmm, really sounds good to the parents and community...

The reality of what I have seen in a school working to develop a PLC---it appeared to be an extension of other brain wash activity. The PLC was a one way vehicle to convey the prevailing administrative philosophy and expectations. A two way dialog with other views being expressed was, subtly and at times not so subtly, shut down. Things were being structured in such a way that soon all teachers at the school would be required to be a part of a PLC.

What happened to the day when a teacher would just walk down to another teacher's classroom and they would ask each other questions, converse, and have a professionally meaningful exchange of ideas? I have been in schools where the administrators were very uncomfortable with this taking place---because they were not able to control the content like they can in a PLC.

Now, are PLCs bad? Not necessarily. They could actually be good things if not misused.

Anonymous said...

I agree the training for our PLC was done in Plano. Part of the training was on math instruction and the trainers were teaching...you guessed it! Core Plus!! Despite our objections (not on our state's adoption list), the training went proceeded like a cheesy sitcom.

Our superintendent makes over $200,000, receives a house, car, and an $800 per month food stipend - is asking all teachers to take a 2% pay cut and he's got his job application in at Austin. AND our district has been saddled with lots of management software that doesn't work - like data director so we can 'analyze' our end of course examinations to see how well we are teaching to the test. The teachers call him an empty suit.