USOE + Common Core = Death of Math
There is a very good reason that there are so many charter schools in Alpine School District that use Saxon math. Thousands of parents fled the district starting around 2001 when the district wouldn’t listen to them that Investigations math was a disaster. The district’s mantra was “all the studies show this is the best way to teach math” but when GRAMA requests were filed, they couldn’t produce a single peer-reviewed study, and in fact studies that do exist show constructivist math programs to be utter failures (link 1)(link 2) and those that support them intellectually dishonest. It took 7 years for ASD to drop the program while children were either supplemented, tutored, or unknowingly falling behind their peers. Common Core now gives the states the opportunity to make sure nobody falls behind their peers by dumbing all of them down at the same time.
Constructivism emphasizes group work, discovering math strategies for yourself instead of having tried and true standard algorithms given to you and learning why they work so well, and a lot of writing, all in the name of acquiring a “deeper understanding” of math. (Example of an epic fail in a BYU Calculus class taught by math education professors)
Jordan and Granite math specialists sent their new Secondary Math 1 textbook to the USOE which sent it out to others on June 4, 2012. The book is a recipe for disaster. It starts off like a self-help book of “I Can” statements for each chapter that students should read (and probably repeat over and over for 21 days to convince themselves they can be confident in their math skills).
“I Can” Statements
1.1 I can solve equations and inequalities.
1.2 I can justify steps in solving equations.
1.3 I can solve absolute-value equations and inequalities.
1.4 I can solve compound inequalities. I can use set and interval notation to describe
solutions to compound inequalities.
There are no math examples in the book for students to learn from. It’s all up to the teacher to teach so well that when a student goes home the parents don’t need to help them with their homework (thus de-emphasizing the role of parents in the lives of their children and making teachers out to be the smart ones children go to for learning as this article points out)
After many of the “math” problems in the book, you’ll find this set of writing and presentation instructions.
1. In your notebook, record your solutions. Explain your thinking with writing, pictures, equations, etc.
2. PRESENTATION of thinking and work: Be prepared to explain your group’s solution and the process
you used to arrive at the solution. Think about how to present your results so the class can see and
understand your work.
3. CRITIQUE and COMPARISON: Observe the other group presentations. In your notebook, write a
short critique; a) write specifically about what is good, b) write questions and suggestions, c) note
differences and similarities among presentations.
Here’s the very first problem in the book. Nothing like jumping in full force to teach children what they’re in for.
0.1 (task)—Lonely Groundhog
(Adapted from Interactive Mathematics Program)
Far, far away, in a land where grassy green hills abound, live small little creatures known as groundhogs. These groundhogs roam the land looking for their shadow to see when winter will end. Once winter is over they live in fancy houses that are decorated with the most beautiful shapes. Since groundhogs aren’t very creative, they live in houses that look just like the house of at least one other groundhog. Groundhogs that live in identical houses always play together. However, one groundhog has a house different from all the rest. Sometimes this groundhog is left all alone. If you can help find the lonely groundhog, perhaps you could introduce it to all the other groundhogs.
Your group will receive a set of 40 cards. Without looking at the cards, evenly distribute them amongst the members of your group. Place them face down. Each card in the set will have a picture of a ground hog’s house. One card in the set is a singleton, meaning that there are no other cards with a house exactly like it. Every card other than this singleton has at least one duplicate.
Your group’s task is to discover the singleton card of the lonely groundhog. When your group thinks they have located the house of the lonely groundhog the task is ended, whether or not you are correct. Therefore, you must be sure that everyone is confident of your answer before you announce that you are done.
1. You may not show any of your cards to another member in your group.
2. You may not trade or pass your cards to another member in your group.
3. You may not look at other member’s cards.
4. You may not draw pictures or diagrams of the houses.
5. You may not put cards in a common pile once you have found duplicate houses.
6. You may set your cards face down in front of you once you think you have found a match.
Aside from these rules, you may work in any way you choose. You may begin!
Post Game Discussion (possible questions)
What problems did you have in playing this game?
What were your group’s strengths and weaknesses?
How can you help your group work together better and improve your individual participation? How did you know when you were done?
How confident were you in knowing you had solved the problem?
Why were you so confident?
0.1 (homework)—Lonely Groundhog
As you can tell from the activity Lonely Groundhog, people play a variety of roles when they work in groups. This assignment is an opportunity for you to reflect upon the way you participate in groups within a math classroom and outside of a math classroom. Be as thoughtful as possible when you answer these questions because they are designed to help you.
Note: This homework will not be shared with other students if you do not want it to be.
1. a. Think of a time when you or someone in your group was left out of the discussion. Describe the situation. Did anyone try to include that person? If not, why not? If yes, then how?
b. What might you have done to help with the situation?
2. a. What has been your experience when someone in your group has made a mistake?
b. How do you think a group should handle mistakes by other group members?
3. a. Think of a time when you wanted to say something, or you did not understand something, but were too afraid to say something. Describe the situation and why you did not say what you wanted to.
b. How do you wish you would have had handled the situation?
4. Do you participate more or less than other group members? Why do you think you do so?
5. Discuss how the amount of homework preparation you do for class affects your participation in group discussions and how your preparation affects the grade your group receives?
Welcome to touchy-feeley math 101. If you feel like this comic expresses, you are not alone (even if your district math specialist tells you that you are the only one that’s ever complained about the math program, which really happened to multiple parents in ASD).