(Hour 3a) Barry GarelickWe talked to Barry Garelick, who is the author of Confessions of a 21st Century Math Teacher.  Rich asked him about Common Core and used his daughter as an example.  Tune in to hear what he had to say and click here for a link to buy his book.  For more on the book and the links referenced in the discussion, please scroll down below the SoundCloud player.  Thank you!

From Barry Garelick:
The book is a description of two long-term sub assignments I had in school year 2013-14.  From the description of the book at Amazon:
“An honest and critical look at math education from the inside, from the author of “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn” For anyone concerned with what Common Core is bringing about in the name of 21st century math education, STEM education, and “21st century skills, this book is a must-read. 

”  “I am not an outright proponent of the philosophy that ‘If you want something done right, you have to live in the past’, but when it comes to how to teach math there are worse philosophies to embrace,” Barry Garelick explains as he continues from where he left off in his last book (“Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn”). He describes his experiences as a long-term substitute teacher at a high school and middle school. He teaches math as he best knows how while schools throughout California make the transition to the Common Core standards. It is the 50th anniversary of key historical events including the JFK assassination and the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. It is also the 50th anniversary of his first algebra course, the technical and personal memories of which he uses to guide him through the 21st century educational belief system that is infused with Common Core and which surrounds him. 

”  Adds Garelick: “ ‘Teaching Math in the 21st Century’ will never be required reading in any school of education in the United States. While this might be a great reason to read the book, it is also a shame because there is a serious lack of an honest discussion and debate on math education issues that really needs to happen in education schools and within the education establishment in general.”  “
 
In the book, I keep the name of the school and school district anonymous. But in a recent article I wrote, I have taken the gloves off and revealed the name of the school district. The article is about a growing trend in California school districts to limit or deny access to algebra to 8th grade students. If a student is ready for algebra in 8th grade, why deny that student access–by means of questionable assessment techniques/criteria? See http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/access-denied-algebra-in-eighth-grade-and-egalitarianism/ .
As far as Common Core goes, I believe that the way the standards are written lend themselves to the reform/fuzzy practices that have been going on for the past 20+ years.  The requirements for students to “understand” or “explain” certain concepts or how they solved problems places more emphasis on conceptual understanding than procedural fluency, though some practices have students drilling inefficient methods for various computations rather than the standard algorithm in the belief that in so doing, it imparts an understanding of the conceptual underpinning so that (wait for it) students won’t be confused when they learn the standard algorithm.
I do not believe this is a good way to do things, and in fact have noted that while the standard algorithm for multidigit addition and subtraction does not appear until 4th grade, there is no prohibition on teaching it earlier.  In fact, Jason Zimba, one of the lead writers of the standards agrees with this and has said so in a recent article, in which he recommends teaching that algorithm in first grade.  Nice of him to say so, but unless one knows this, you certainly don’t get this from reading the standards. Nor to publishers adhere to this; they go with the alternate strategies in grades 1-3.  His article is here:  http://edexcellence.net/articles/when-the-standard-algorithm-is-the-only-algorithm-taught  I also talk about this here: http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/undoing-the-rote-understanding-approach-to-common-core-math-standards/
Finally, you might find this article on “explaining your answer” to be of interest:  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/math-problems-knowing-doing-and-explaining-your-answer/
That should bring you up to speed somewhat. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.