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Topic: Solomon Garfunkel on Common Core Standards
Replies: 9   Last Post: Jul 30, 2012 8:36 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Solomon Garfunkel on Common Core Standards
Posted: Jul 29, 2012 5:44 PM
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On Sun, Jul 29, 2012 at 8:24 AM, Domenico Rosa <> wrote:

<< snip >>

> Lovanio presented the following two examples of the types of problems that may be used for testing 8th-graders.
> 1. She showed an overhead photo of a house on a lot, with a car parked on the driveway. The students are told that the homeowner wants to re-sod the entire lot. The students are to estimate the total cost. [students are given no information about the dimensions of the lot, house and driveway; and no information about the cost of the sod. Part of the assessment is that students must make estimates about these.]

I like the idea of "an overhead photo" as that's reminiscent of Google
Earth, or any similar terraserver. The ability to rotate and zoom in
on a globe made from digital photography, at various levels of
detail, is a great boon to education and the positive legacy of the
Cold War. The ability to zoom in on one's own school or place of
residence, then zoom back for a larger context, is a fantastic
addition to our curriculum designs. This ability comes at no extra
charge once the Internet is presumed, and sufficient hardware (perhaps

In a STEM setting, it would be OK to let the discussion digress into
whether "sodding a lawn" is the most ethical use or even the most
practical use of a property. Here in Portland we have the Food Not
Lawns work ethic, which hearkens back to UK lifestyles more.
Gardening, raising food, versus squandering resources on purely
decorative grasses -- what's "more expensive" in terms of waste and
chemicals. You can tell I have my thumb on the scale here, am
displaying a bias. Teachers are allowed to have a bias, but students
are encouraged to counter the teacher in debate, using the rules of
the road (rhetoric). The National Forensic League would love this
practice to spread.

If you're in a school where teachers are not permitted to share biases
and/or students are not allowed to openly debate teachers, making
counter points, then your school's curriculum architects might have
been from an inferior race (I use the term "race" as a convenience,
without any special reference to genetics or biology, as I don't
consider the word "race" as a precise term of science).

> 2. She showed a diagram depicting the circumference of the Earth, with children drawn all around the circumference holding hands with their arms extended. The volume of the Earth is given in scientific notation, and the students are to determine how many students would be needed to go all around the Earth.

Again, starting with Planet Earth is a good idea. Solving the problem
in both meters and feet would be a good exercise. The numbers aren't
that bad (roughly (25000 x 5280)/5 for the foot solution).

Of course it's ridiculous to take this literally, as if one could do
this in practice. The problem should be addressed in the context of
similar stories about how many times one drives "to the moon and back" if an
average trucker for 30 years, heart beats per average life time,
other such trivia / statistics. It's a genre. To ask out of context
would seem daft, as students can't stand on the oceans and even trying
to link across the continents would be a logistical nightmare
resulting in many deaths. We don't want the question to come across
as some kind of insane fantasy -- or maybe we do, could be a source of
satirical cartoons with the 'Small World After All' soundtrack.
(from a childrens web site) (related: I was in Italy at the time and
I think some of my school mates got into this, whereas in the
Philippines they recruited at my school for 'Apocalypse Now')

> At the end of the session, I pointed out that these problems are ill-posed and require students to make too many assumptions. I also asked why she would want 8th-grades to deal with messy numbers as in example 2. she gave some type of absurd answer.
> The point is that the same people who promoted the "standards" and "reform math," without accepting any responsibility for their massive failure, are now peddling the latest rubbish.

So far it looks like STEM teachers might be able to align CCSSM to
with their curriculum. The focus on whole Earth thinking looks
promising. In places where CCSSM fails to meet STEM standards, we're
free to take guidance from other sources, e.g. the physics teaching
community. Gotta have V + F == E + 2 if you expect to be taken
seriously by your peers. Polyhedrons are core. Does the CCSSM
include mention of the Platonic Five? If not, it's way more
disgraceful than I realized. Let me go check... (Dom you should like slide 11
as it cites textbooks of the 1800s / early 1900s that featured
polyhedrons, a topic dropped from high school by the big dummy

Slide 21:


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics | new K-12
standards adopted by 44 states.

"Polyhedron" does not appear as a term, though standard topics of
volume and surface area do. Components, representation and
visualization of three-dimensional objects are listed, but not Platonic
solids or Euler's formula.

Carl Lee (UK) Polyhedra in Math Ed MathFest | August 2011 21

Yikes, Platonic Five are not mentioned. I look forward to telling my
students the CCSSM is for morons at best (a biased position, they're
free to debate me).

Slide 41:

Other Ideas?

Ah c'mon. Concentric hierarchy duh. Gotta have it. Shocking to see
no mention. But then the UK is mostly stuck in old ways, contributes
to why east coasters are such slow pokes. Glad we look to Asia more.
Our concentric hierarchy posters were published in Singapore (1979).


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