Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the playground to the boardroom, 3 ways labels RUIN EVERYTHING {sort of}

When I first started to get really interested in mindfulness, I’d hear a lot about how important it is to observe, describe, and participate in what you are doing. But don’t label the experience. Never label. This always seemed like splitting hairs to me. I could barely see the difference between describing and labeling; it all seemed like a matter of semantics. Describing, labeling. TomAyto, tomAHto. Amiright?

The deal is, labels often carry judgement. And sometimes (most of the time?) the source of our stress isn’t necessarily from the actual situation, but from our reactions to, and judgements of, the situation. 

True story.

Labels and Kids

First with kids. In a few books I’ve read (Siblings without Rivalry, How to Talk, and If I Have to Tell You One More Time, to name a few) it has mentioned how it isn’t a good idea to label your kids. Even if it is a positive label (she’s the athletic one), it’s not a great idea. It can set up sibling rivalries, uncomfortable expectations, limitations, and it can make your kids feel like they are some sort of two-dimensional caricature of themselves to you. And that is just the positive labels! That doesn’t even address the impacts of negative labels (sloppy, lazy, the-not-athletic one).

via Amazon

Feedback and Labels

Making Feedback Work, by Elaine Holland is written for managers in the workplace, but it has little gems that are applicable for both parents and CEOs. Anybody who has read Gottman’s marriage work knows that feedback should be given in a ratio of five positive statements for every one negative statements. This is actually true in the workplace as well. GO FIGURE.

Effective feedback is given in the form of observable statements. I.e., NOT descriptive labels. Therefore, statements like, “be more professional/less emotional/more of a team player” are crap. And of course they are! Those statements could mean one thing to the person giving the feedback and another thing entirely to the person receiving it. So you could think you have made HUGE strides in your “emotional” problems (read: you’re a woman, right? How’d I guess. #sexism), meanwhile your supervisor still thinks it is a massive issue and that’s why you’re going nowhere fast in the organization. 

Instead feedback should be given using these three steps:
  1. Describe (don’t label!) the behavior (this shouldn’t be vague or subjective)
  2. Describe its impact (why is the behavior good or bad)
  3. Describe the desired future behavior (this should be the focus of the conversation if it was a negative behavior you want to change; if you spend too much time harping on the bad behavior it will sound like you’re about to fire the person. If it is your child receiving the feedback, the negative behavior will be the salient part of the conversation and what they are more likely to remember if that is what you ramble on and on about.)

This might sound familiar because it is a lot like some of the advice in the How to Praise a Child Round Up. Once again, if you know how to raise and/or teach a child, you should know how to get a corner office. Not that that’s how our society works. But you know. Just sayin’. 

And the amazing thing is, you can tell people almost anything when you state it in the form of a fact rather than a judgement. People can argue with your opinion or judgement. Nobody (reasonable) can argue with facts. You have a sleazy boss? It is hard to say, I’ve been meaning to tell you, you’re kind of sleazy. Because that is a label, and it is a kind of harsh one. And maybe his behavior is too subtle to really go to HR and say, "he’s gross, do something, maybe?" But you can say, “I’ve noticed you look me up and down a lot and touch me more than any other of my other coworkers. (Describe the behavior) It makes me uncomfortable. (Describe the impact) I’d appreciate it if you could just look me in the eyes and give me some more personal space. That’d be great."

FYI: If by chance, you are on the receiving end of some useless, label-filled feedback {because your boss was never an awesome parent or teacher like you, natch. or like many bosses, your’s wasn’t hired for his people/management skills.} here are three questions you should ask: 
  1. What do you want to see me start doing?
  2. What do you want to see me stop doing?
  3. What do you want to see me keep doing?

Overreacting and Labels

The authors of Crucial Conversations make an important point. When you say, “That made me so angry!” what you really mean is, “That thing happened, and I immediately, without even realizing it, created a story to explain why it happened (what everyone’s role and motives were, etc.) and that story made me so angry!” 

For example, your boss was late to a meeting you organized (that was the thing that happened). Your story was, your boss doesn’t respect you or think what you have to say is important. He blew off you and your meeting and walked in late to show everyone how unimportant he thinks you are, and how useless what you have to say is. And that story, not so much the event, is what made you angry.

Your story is really like a complicated label. At the very least, you are labeling the other characters in your story. Often times these stories are what the authors’ consider “clever” because they essentially let us off the hook. There is a victim (you), a villain (the other guy), and/or a helpless character (you also). These labels often allow us to underplay our own role in the problem or mistakes we might have made, and exaggerate the role or cruel motives of others.

If we step back and look simply at the facts of the case and remove these labels, we are sometimes able to consider other possibilities. It leaves us some room for a little more empathy, or at least a little more room to consider other perspectives. For example, maybe your boss was one his way to your meeting and got sick. He would have gone home, but he didn’t wan to miss your presentation. He got there as soon as he could, and sat through the whole thing feeling unwell, because he knew it was important to you and he wanted to support you. If you stopped to consider other reasons your boss could have been late, you could have labeled him as something other than the villain and then you wouldn’t have been angry.

It is the same with our kids. A lot of times when kids misbehave or do something bad, we sometimes think they are doing it just to disrespect us. We forget they are just kids and they actually are really motivated to please us. But they are kids! They are exploring their world, testing their boundaries, learning new things. They have short attention spans, a limited understanding of the world and sometimes we haven’t clearly explained how things work or what we expect in some circumstances. And a lot of times we’ve done a really crummy job considering things from their perspective.

That’s why it is really important to step back, take a deep breath, and carefully observe before we jump in and label and flip out. That space we create gives a little more room for empathy, clarity, and perspective. All good things.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two Amazing Ways to Stop Saying Sorry When You Really Don’t Need To

In ascending order of professional applicability. 
Even though Panteen and the rest of the internet thinks only women say sorry all the time, I know that’s not true because my first trick I learned from a dude. If you haven’t seen the Panteen commercial, well. Here.
<Panteen commercial>
In my first job out of college, I was living in an apartment I couldn’t afford. I knew I couldn’t afford it because most of my friends in the Northern Virginia high rise were lawyers and I wasn't. I also knew I couldn’t afford it because I had  no discretionary income until I finally moved out. Anyway, one of my lawyer friends was a nice guy. (you know how it goes)
Anyway, he said he used to say sorry all the time. And when he noticed I did it, he told me was going to pass along a little tip his friend (also a guy, who also said gratuitous “Sorry”s all the time) told him to help him break the habit. He said: every time you get the urge to say “Sorry” just say “F*ck you” instead. It’ll cure ya real quick. First, it teaches you to be more aggressive and less “nice guy” like. And second it will make you aware of how much you say it, which will show you how inappropriate most of your “sorry”s really are. 
I probably still say sorry too much. But at least I laugh sometimes when I do it. (I’m really bad about saying “sorry” instead of “excuse me.” e.g., when I’m trying to get out of a movie theater seat, I’m just like, sorry! sorry! sorry everyone! Then I think how funny would it be if I were like, f*ck you, f*ck you, f*ck all of you! I have to pee! makes me laugh every time.)

Now the more professionally useful one. As in, you can use it at work or in polite company. It is called “contrasting” and I got it from Crucial Conversations. It is useful when somebody misunderstands you or overreacts to something you said that wasn’t actually (objectively) inappropriate. Let's say you were trying your hardest to stand up for yourself and then it blew up in your face. (sucks). This will come in handy because you can use this anytime you haven’t done anything wrong even though somebody reacted like you did (oversensitive little baby). If you have nothing to apologize for, you could do the awful, “I’m sorry I upset you!” thing; but DON’T! Instead, you use contrasting.
Contrasting consists of two parts, a "don’t part" and a "do part." The "don’t part" is where you’d say what you don’t think. Basically counter whatever they misunderstood or whatever they are stating or implying in their overreaction. “I don’t think you are an incompetent boss who needs someone to tell you how to do your job.” Or “I don’t think you are terrible husband and father!”  Or “The last thing that I wanted to communicate was that I think you are a miserable coworker." 
Then you provide what you do think. “In fact, I don’t think there is anyone as knowledgeable of X in this entire state.” or “I can’t imagine anybody else I’d rather be raising our children with.” or “I think your work on this project has been nothing short of amazing.”
You’re not apologizing. You are clearing the air. And you are hopefully making them feel better so you can go on to have a productive conversation. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why knowing better doesn’t automatically lead to doing better

Parents, and adults in general, constantly do things even though they “know better.” We don’t eat enough vegetables. We don’t get enough exercise. We don’t get enough sleep. We wait until the last minute to do our taxes (or call our accountant). We buy too many pairs of shoes and No. 2 pencil skirts and dresses during J.Crew sales.

Knowing better doesn’t mean doing better. And yet, we constantly think that just because we told our kids to do/not do something (a hundred times) they should do/stop it already (goshdarnit). 

I’m always getting really mad at myself because I have read all this parenting stuff. I’m an educator. I have a psychology degree. And yet. I’m like a super crappy parent sometimes. Like super duper crappy. I mean, ask my neighbors. (I always feel like we are the loudest family on the block, but they politely assure me they don’t hear anything. I think they are lying.)

So this article made me feel better: Why We Aren't The Parents We Know We Could Be. And this one: How People Change.

What is interesting is that, what is good for changing our kids' behavior, is good for changing our behavior. So if we can figure out how to make our kids better people, we can figure out how to make ourselves better people too (bonus). Hint: it involves more than saying, “do it!"
So what will change children's behavior? 
Kazdin and Rotella advocate what they call "reinforced practice" and "positive opposites." In brief, you can encourage desired behaviors by repeatedly eliciting them (or their successive approximations) and reinforcing them as soon as they happen, and you can eliminate undesirable behaviors by reinforcing the positive behaviors you want to replace them with. (See, I wasn't kidding about rats and levers.) Punishment in some forms has its time and its place, but it's rarely effective, and it's rarely the best choice.
These principles don't just apply to kids and to rats. If you want to change your own behavior, exactly the same ideas apply. So if you're hoping to become a better parent, you need to do more than learn some psychology or skim through some parenting books.
(And interestingly most of these principles apply to management. You know, if people actually valued the skills related to motherhood.)
I happen to cover a field — politics — in which people are perpetually bellowing at each other to be better....It’s a lousy leadership model. Don’t try to bludgeon bad behavior. Change the underlying context. Change the behavior triggers. Displace bad behavior with different good behavior. Be oblique. Redirect.
So there you go.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Why we didn't go to Target this weekend #offTarget

This weekend, Hannah and I had a serious talk about why we weren't going to Target. The girls love Target. But we didn't go there this weekend. And we won't be going back there for the foreseeable future (which I'm sure is great news for Cork and our bank statement).
do you love my headband? Hannah picked it out.
She took it pretty well though, especially when I explained why. I told her that people were making bad choices. In our family we talk a lot about making good choices. And I tell the girls when I've made a bad choice. And we try to make better choices. And right now some people going to Target, and the Target store owners, are making bad choices.

We've talked before about how guns are dangerous. They hurt people. (Just owning a gun is dangerous, and that is why we don't). And hurting people is a huge "no no" in our family. It isn't nice. We don't play with guns. We don't play near guns. She won't be playing with any friends who have guns around. And we certainly won't go shopping for toys at a store where there are a bunch of rude men and women with giant guns. And Target is doing nothing about it. Even though it could jeopardize their liquor license. Not to mention their target demographic.

Bottom line, guns kill twice as many kids as cancer does.
And there are far more of these innocent victims than official records show. A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities

Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense. (source) I doubt guns in a Target store (parking lot, dressing room, toy aisle, etc.) are much safer. I don't care about anybody's hero fantasies. If you're not trained to use the gun, if you haven't completed a background check, if you're not mentally stable, if your gun isn't properly stored, AND ON AND ON, I'd rather you not have a gun anywhere near me.

But it is cool. Thanks for the chance to help me save some money by staying out of your store. And thanks for the opportunity to have a teachable moment with my daughter. Carry on, pandering to the tacky gun owners. We like Costco better anyway.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ignorant people hating the Common Core and also racism

So I was around a bunch of education people, as I often am, doing education stuff. And close to our conference room(s) were a number of old white guys (and a handful of gals) doing something Fox News ish. Out of curiosity, a brave soul asked one of them what they were up to. Because it seemed sort of wild, in a really old, white guy kind of way. No joke. I even saw one of them dressed like Benjamin Franklin talking about how their values were being threatened. It was like if you took the Fox News demographic and put them in a room and started using some of their softer talking points (I never heard any mention of “Benghazi” or “jamming stuff down our throats” but lots of “Patriotism!” and “values!” and such).

In no time, his discussion veered into the “kids these days” and patriotism and ‘Merica an such. And too much time is spent on MLK and not enough on George Washington. (because history is a zero-sum game; it is basically a celebrity death match between white and black historical figures. and the white ones are losing??! I’m sorry, what text book are these old guys reading?) Also, the textbooks are teaching Abraham Lincoln all wrong (you know, state’s rights, instead of slavery. because historical accuracy???!). At this point, I made some wide eye contact with my coworker that, yeah, this was really happening. And before we could excuse ourselves to the less-racist side of the lobby, this lady chimed in: Yes! I agree! Because I’m a republican! And that is why I don’t want them forcing those awful Common Core standards on us here in Texas!”


The Common Core. Which doesn’t even have social studies standards.

But let’s keep those awful, non-existent social studies standards out of Texas anyway. 

Because she is a republican, gosh darn it! 

There is no excuse for that. Google is your friend, okay? How does somebody get so worked up over something that doesn’t even exist? Something she's clearly never researched or read? That is unacceptable. Unacceptable but unsurprising. Especially from someone who wants to keep white supremacy in our text books...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kindergarten ELA Common Core vs. TEKS


Yes. I brought the caps locks. Because this is ridiculous. It is taking forever. Those caps locks for all the elementary school teachers out there implementing these standards. Seriously, standards writers, those teachers aren’t subject area specialists so they have to implement these AND the math standards. By the time you finish reading these standards, the year is half way over! When are you even supposed to implement them?

Actually, you know what, I was almost done cross referencing them with the TEKS and thought I still had another strand to do and I sort of flipped out. But I was actually almost done. But my point still stands. There are so many Common Core ELA standards. Anyway, nobody is going to read all of the cross referencing I did anyway! So who cares if I finish! Even though I will finish eventually.

Part of the problem is that they have separate strands for literature and informational texts that are pretty identical. But they are two separate strands. In the TEKS we could cover that by having one student expectation that says find the author’s purpose in various texts including... and then list examples of literature and informational texts. This whole set up makes me realize a few things.

  1. A common complaint about educational standards is that they are too ambitious and they force teachers to go, “an inch deep and a mile wide.” I generally associated this complaint with an excessive number of expectations. And while that can frequently be the case, and an excessive number of standards is certainly overwhelming, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are coving a wide breadth of information. You could have a ton of standards that seem almost redundant *cough*counting. 
  2. Conversely, you could have a couple standards that represent “big ideas” which implicitly cover a number of essential knowledge and skills. Some of the CC standards didn’t have a match with one of Texas’ student expectations because the skill was implicit in one of our standards. In other words, ours was a little more rigorous, and you couldn’t do ours unless you already could do theirs. So the number of standards can be decieving.
  3. Given one and two, can you guys please consolidate the expectations that are all related and almost identical? Or eliminate the easier ones because they are basically implicit or assumed or whatever by the harder ones? just basically, DO SOMETHING, to not make there be a bazillion standards, some of which are almost identical to others?

Breakdown (in progress)

RI.K.1 and RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
§110.11(b)(4)(B)  ask and respond to questions about texts read aloud. 90%

RL.K.2 With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
§110.11(b)(8)(B)  retell important facts in a text, heard or read;
§110.11(b)(6)(B)  discuss the big idea (theme) of a well-known folktale or fable and connect it to personal experience; 70%

RI.K.2. With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
§110.11(b)(4)(B)  ask and respond to questions about texts read aloud. 95%

RL.K.3 With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
§110.11(b)(6)(A)  identify elements of a story including setting, character, and key events;  100%

RI.K.3 With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
I'm coming up with nothing; making connections is important, but this is so broad. 0%

RL.K.4 Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
RI.K.4 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
§110.11(b)(21)(A)  listen attentively by facing speakers and asking questions to clarify information; 50%

RL.K.5 Recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
§110.11(b)(14)(B)  write short poems.
§110.11(b)(7)(A)  connect the meaning of a well-known story or fable to personal experiences; and
(7)(B)  explain the function of recurring phrases (e.g., "Once upon a time" or "They lived happily ever after") in traditional folk- and fairy tales.
This is implicit in the TEKS 

RL.K.6 With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.
RI.K.6 Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.
um yeah, that’s a first grade skill in Texas. We just identify the parts of a book (cover, title page, etc) and how to read: top to bottom, left to right, Tylenol for any headaches, Midol for any cramps. (Tommy Boy, anyone?) 0%

RI.K.5 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
§110.11(b)(1)(G)  identify different parts of a book (e.g., front and back covers, title page).
oh there it is, it was in a different strand. 100%

RL.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
RI.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).
§110.11(b)(4)(A)  predict what might happen next in text based on the cover, title, and illustrations; 50%

RL.K.9 With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
§110.11(b)(8)(B)  describe characters in a story and the reasons for their actions.
CC definitely looks like a bigger deal at first. But when you break it out, you’re comparing and contrasting their adventures, and comparing and contrasting their experiences (that is like, the same thing?) Meanwhile, in Texas, we are describing (which is definitely not as ambitious of a verb) the characters and the reasons for their actions. motivation is a pretty ambitions thing for a Kindergartener. These are similar but it is hard to say that one is necessarily clearly more rigorous.

RI.K.10 and RL.K.10 Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
§110.11(b)(23)  Listening and Speaking/Teamwork. Students work productively with others in teams. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to follow agreed-upon rules for discussion, including taking turns and speaking one at a time.
Meh. Not that close. 25%

RI.K.8 With prompting and support, identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.
not really addressed in the TEKS. We do have: §110.11(b)(20)(A)  gather evidence from provided text sources; but that is pretty much a stretch. Because they both support logical thinking, I'll give it a 15%

RI.K.9 With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).
Not addressed in TEKS 0%

RF.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
§110.11(b)(1)  Reading/Beginning Reading Skills/Print Awareness. Students understand how English is written and printed. 100%

RF.K.1.a Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
§110.11(b)(1)(F)  hold a book right side up, turn its pages correctly, and know that reading moves from top to bottom and left to right; and 100%
RF.K.1.b Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.
§110.11(b)(1)(C)  demonstrate the one-to-one correspondence between a spoken word and a printed word in text; 100%
RF.K.1.c Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
§110.11(b)(1)(E)  recognize that sentences are comprised of words separated by spaces and demonstrate the awareness of word boundaries (e.g., through kinesthetic or tactile actions such as clapping and jumping); 100%
RF.K.1.d Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
§110.11(b)(1)(B)  identify upper- and lower-case letters; 100%
RF.K.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
§110.11(b)(2)(B)  identify syllables in spoken words; 80%
RF.K.2.a Recognize and produce rhyming words.
§110.11(b)(2)(C)  orally generate rhymes in response to spoken words (e.g., "What rhymes with hat?"); 100%
RF.K.2.b Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.
§110.11(b)(2)(B)  identify syllables in spoken words;
yeah, that's all we've got. 20%
RF.K.2.c Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.
§110.11(b)(2)(F)  blend spoken onsets and rimes to form simple words (e.g., onset/c/ and rime/at/ make cat);
oh, who has the examples now, Common Core?! 100%
RF.K.2.d Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words. (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
§110.11(b)(2)(H)  isolate the initial sound in one-syllable spoken words; and
(I)  segment spoken one-syllable words into two to three phonemes (e.g., dog:/d/ …/o/ …/g/).
§110.11(b)(3)(B)  use knowledge of letter-sound relationships to decode regular words in text and independent of content (e.g., VC, CVC, CCVC, and CVCC words);
Close enough, plus the TEKS does way more. 100% and then some.
RF.K.2.e Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.
§110.11(b)(3)(C)  recognize that new words are created when letters are changed, added, or deleted; and

F.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
§110.11(b)(3)(B)  use knowledge of letter-sound relationships to decode regular words in text and independent of content (e.g., VC, CVC, CCVC, and CVCC words);
"grade level phonics and word analysis skills" please define. kthanks. I'll just say 90%

RF.K.3.a Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
§110.11(b)(3)(A)  identify the common sounds that letters represent;
okay, I'm not a reading specialist. And I should probably stop there. But I thought there was just a one-to-one word correspondence? Like sounds? this isn't Spanish. Part of what makes English so ridiculous is all the stupid sounds "c" can make. PS: There is no such thing as "basic" one-to-one correspondence. There is one-to-one or there isn't. Okay. Whatever. English people co-opting math terms.
RF.K.3.b Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels. 
that's a first grade thing in Texas. Go figure.
RF.K.3.c Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
§110.11(b)(3)(D)  identify and read at least 25 high-frequency words from a commonly used list. 100%
RF.K.3.d Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.
§110.11(b)(3)(C)  recognize that new words are created when letters are changed, added, or deleted;
RF.K.4 Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).
W.K.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
not really
W.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
§110.11(b)(13)(A)  plan a first draft by generating ideas for writing through class discussion;
(13)(E)  share writing with others.
 Eh? I don't know. 50%
W.K.6 With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
I'm struggling to find anything close

W.K.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
W.K.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
§110.11(b)(20)  Research/Gathering Sources. Students determine, locate, and explore the full range of relevant sources addressing a research question and systematically record the information they gather. Students (with adult assistance) are expected to:
(A)  gather evidence from provided text sources; and
(B)  use pictures in conjunction with writing when documenting research.
I guess we document the research but don't share it? huh. 70%

SL.K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
SL.K.1.a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
SL.K.1.b Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
§110.11(b)(21)  Listening and Speaking/Listening. Students use comprehension skills to listen attentively to others in formal and informal settings. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to: (A)  listen attentively by facing speakers and asking questions to clarify information;
um? close enough? 65%
SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
SL.K.3 Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood. 
§110.11(b)(4)(B)  ask relevant questions, seek clarification, and locate facts and details about stories and other texts; and 
shoot. 50%?
SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
SL.K.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
I don't know about these.
SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.
§110.11(b)(22)  Listening and Speaking/Speaking. Students speak clearly and to the point, using the conventions of language. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to share information and ideas by speaking audibly and clearly using the conventions of language.
Good enough. 90%

L.K.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
§110.11(b)(16)  Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:
L.K.1.a Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
§110.11(b)(17)(A)  form upper- and lower-case letters legibly using the basic conventions of print (left-to-right and top-to-bottom progression);

L.K.1.b Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
(16)  Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:
§110.11(b)(15)(A)  understand and use the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking (with adult assistance):
(ii)  nouns (singular/plural);
(B)  speak in complete sentences to communicate; and
(C)  use complete simple sentences.
okay, so if you are speaking in complete sentences, you are using verbs. so L.K.1.b is implicit here. 75%

L.K.1.c Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes).
§110.11(b)(15)(A)  understand and use the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking (with adult assistance):
(ii)  nouns (singular/plural)

L.K.1.d Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
§110.11(b)(19)  Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them.

L.K.1.e Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
§110.11(b)(15)(A)  understand and use the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking (with adult assistance):
(iv)  prepositions and simple prepositional phrases appropriately when speaking or writing (e.g., in, on, under, over); and

L.K.1.f Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
§110.11(b)(16)(B) speak in complete sentences to communicate; and
(C) use complete simple sentences.
§110.11(b)(22) Listening and Speaking/Speaking. Students speak clearly and to the point, using the conventions of language. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to share information and ideas by speaking audibly and clearly using the conventions of language.

L.K.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
§110.11(b)(17) Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to:
(A) form upper- and lower-case letters legibly using the basic conventions of print (left-to-right and top-to-bottom progression);
(B) capitalize the first letter in a sentence; and
(C) use punctuation at the end of a sentence.
L.K.2.aCapitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
§110.11(b)(17) Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to: (B) capitalize the first letter in a sentence; and

L.K.2.b Recognize and name end punctuation.
§110.11(b)(17) Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to (C) use punctuation at the end of a sentence.

L.K.2.c Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
§110.11(b)(17)(A) form upper- and lower-case letters legibly using the basic conventions of print (left-to-right and top-to-bottom progression);
§110.11(b)(18)(A) use phonological knowledge to match sounds to letters;

L.K.2.d Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
§110.11(b)(18)(B) use letter-sound correspondences to spell consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words (e.g., "cut"); and

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Kindergarten Math Standards: Common Core versus Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

Hold on to your cowboy hats and 'Merican flags, patriots; get ready to fight some communism because do I have news for you, Texas. You are implementing most of the Common Core standards. Well, in Kindergarten math anyway. That's the first one I've reviewed so far.
Going through my first set of standards, I was struck by two mutually exclusive things: 
  1. Some of their standards are EXACTLY, as in VERBATIM, like ours. More than some, most of them. I found an exact match or a near match for almost every standard.
  2. But at the same time, little things about them and their overall set up are just different enough that I wonder if that was reason enough for us to reject them. Wouldn't that be funny if it was about more than just politics. I mean we are really OCD about our standards and how they are written here in Texas. We have lots of very specific formats and rules. It is sort of like how some people would never hire a maid. Not because they wouldn’t love the help. Or because they don't trust them. But some people are just a little obsessive about cleaning and they know that nobody else would or could do it how they wanted it. Like that episode of Jon and Kate plus Eight. All I’m saying is, Texas is like Kate Gosselin.

I'd say, roughly, Texas is implementing between 70-85 percent of the Common Core standards in Kindergarten math (depending on how your quantify and calculate it). So put that in your crazy pipe and smoke it with your tin foil hat on, C-SCOPE haters. 
What I liked about the Common Core:
How frequently they included examples. (Although sometimes they'd say "e.g." and sometimes they'd say "for example" and I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa. You guys! Come on. Some consistency, please! That kind of thing just would not fly in Texas). But giving examples is HUGE. When you tell a parent or an elementary school teacher (who, btw, is a generalist by certification) to "compose and decompose" a number, or "connect counting to cardinality" that means literally nothing to most of them. I wish the freaking TEKS gave more examples!
What I didn't like about the Common Core:
It seemed disjointed. The "connect counting to cardinality" actually didn't give an example, which seemed inconsistent with other (actually less jargony) standards that did give examples. I feel like a standard should stand on its own, but examples should be a courtesy. This standard made me think perhaps some groups wrote some strands, other groups wrote other strands (likely) but nobody went back and cleaned it up. They should be consistent and they should consistently use plain, meaningful language and give examples when appropriate.
The clash of the rigor:
The problem with Kindergarten is that, first and foremost, you have kids coming in at ALL levels. On the one hand, a study came out this year saying Kindergarten isn't rigorous enough. You spend too much time counting (ahem, six CC standards) and doing letter recognition. And on the other hand, you have complaints about Kindergarten becoming less and less developmentally appropriate. Play is getting lost in the drive to push literacy skills and testing readiness down to younger and younger grades. Children's development and pedagogical needs often times aren't taken into consideration when standards are created or implemented. So does it matter that the Common Core composes and decomposes numbers up to 20, but the TEKS discusses using math with coins, and asks the kids to create rather than just use charts and graphs? I think the difference in the rigor between these standards is negligible, but I feel like we will start seeing some disparities in the coming grades. I just wanted to set the stage for all that here before they start to crop up. 
Too Bossy?
There were a couple CC standards where I thought they were getting all up in the teacher's business. *cough* The counting standards were like, WUT. Seriously. They were literally telling the teachers what to say. Tell met that isn't a "how." But these could be interpreted as helpful (research-based even). Maybe these are common counting mistake areas. Maybe not, but these don't rile me up like some standards where I'm like, dude, back off and let the teachers teach, okay?! These examples mostly made me wonder, how many kindergarteners are coming in not counting at all on day one that you guys are so obsessed with it?!

Break downs of CC Standards below.
Percentages in pink indicates an estimated match with Texas standards.

Common Core: K.CC.A.1 Count to 100 by ones and by tens.   
TEKS: §111.2(b)(5)The student is expected to recite numbers up to at least 100 by ones and tens beginning with any given number.

Common Core: K.CC.A.2 Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1).
TEKS:  §111.2(b)(2)(F) generate a number that is one more than or one less than another number up to at least 20;
TEKS are like, we will see your counting forward and we will raise you counting backwards, but only by one number. 90%
Common Core: K.CC.A.3 Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(B) read, write, and represent whole numbers from 0 to at least 20 with and without objects or pictures;

Common Core: K.CC.B.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
K.CC.B.4.A When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object. K.CC.B.4.B Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted. 
 K.CC.B.4.C Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger. 
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(C) count a set of objects up to at least 20 and demonstrate that the last number said tells the number of objects in the set regardless of their arrangement or order
Verdict. CC devoted a lot more student expectations to this stuff, which is weird to me. Because they all basically mean, “understand how to count.” (flashback to Sideways Stories from Wayside School, anyone?) Also confusing: the TEKS actually deleted our “one-to-one correspondence" student expectation in the new version, effective this upcoming school year.” I wish Everly were here. She could explain to me whether that was an intentional deletion and why, or whether it the revision committee thought they were supplanting it with plainer language. Speaking of plain language. Memo to the CC: your kindergarten teachers are certified generalists. Your kindergarten parents are likely not mathematicians either. Nobody knows WTF you mean when you say “connect counting to cardinality.” and “say the names in the standard order” -- as opposed to?? Because of that jargon explosion, I declare the TEKS the winner here. 50%

Common Core: K.CC.B.5 Count to answer "how many?" questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1-20, count out that many objects.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(C) see above
Verdict: CC just said, “regardless of their arrangement or the order”; they are really getting into the minutia for their teachers. That is kind of weird, coming from Texas where we tell teachers what to teach but not how. I know teachers sometimes complain about too many TEKS, but these CC standards seem to be like, the same thing over and over again. And a little bit like, bossy. This is pretty close, but I’m gonna go with the TEKS here; they basically got four CC standards for the price of one. 50%

Common Core: K.CC.C.6 Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(G) compare sets of objects up to at least 20 in each set using comparative language
Verdict: CC provides strategies. Interesting. 100%

Common Core: K.CC.C.7 Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals.
TEKS §111.2(b)(2)(H) use comparative language to describe two numbers up to 20 presented as written numerals;
Verdict: These are so freaking identical, except the TEKS are twice as hard. 50%
Common Core: K.OA.A.1 Represent addition and subtraction with objects, fingers, mental images, drawings, sounds (e.g., claps), acting out situations, verbal explanations, expressions, or equations.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(3)(A)  model the action of joining to represent addition and the action of separating to represent subtraction;
Verdict: Close enough. Keep in mind, the Knowledge and Skill statement, which comes before the student expectations in the TEKS requires that the students use the process standards, which involve things like using every day life stuff when solving problems. (the actually use the word “stuff,” isn’t that weird?) 100%
Common Core: K.OA.A.2 Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(3)(B) solve word problems using objects and drawings to find sums up to 10 and differences within 10; 
Verdict: Seriously, are you guys the same thing, or what? I kind of like how the CC uses the “e.g.” I wish the TEKS did that more. You know what? for that I give bonus points to CC. 100%

Common Core: K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(I) compose and decompose numbers up to 10 with objects and pictures.
Verdict: Again with the sameness. But still, loving the e.g.’s. 90%

Common Core: K.OA.A.4 For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(3)(C)  explain the strategies used to solve problems involving adding and subtracting within 10 using spoken words, concrete and pictorial models, and number sentences.

Common Core: K.OA.A.5 Fluently add and subtract within 5.
TEKS: nothing. 
Verdict: The TEKS talk big about mathematical fluency in the introduction, but there’s nothing specific to back it up with in terms of specific student expectations. 0%
Common Core: K.NBT.A.1 Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(2)(I) compose and decompose numbers up to 10 with objects and pictures.
Verdict: What? why did they separate this out from K.OA.A.3? I guess the CC beat the TEKS here because they went all the way to 20. 0%

Common Core: K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object
TEKS: §111.2(b)(7)(A) give an example of a measurable attribute of a given object, including length, capacity, and weight; (6)(D) identify attributes of two-dimensional shapes using informal and formal geometric language interchangeably;

Common Core: K.MD.A.2 Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has "more of"/"less of" the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(7)(B) compare two objects with a common measurable attribute to see which object has more of/less of the attribute and describe the difference.
Verdict: Squeeze me? Baking soda? Did one of you guys plagiarize? Also, CC, let’s talk about how you went from “e.g.” to “for example.” Do you not have a style guide? 100%
Common Core: K.MD.B.3 Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(8)(A) collect, sort, and organize data into two or three categories;
Verdict: We got it. You guys are twinners. 90%

Common Core: K.G.A.1 Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(6)(B) recognize shapes in real-life three-dimensional geometric figures or models of three-dimensional geometric figures; and (7)(A) describe one object in relation to another using informal language such as over, under, above, and below; and
Verdict: I’m losing my will to carry on. 100%

Common Core: K.G.A.2 Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(6)(C) describe, identify, and compare circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares (a special type of rectangle);
(6)(E)  classify and sort a variety of regular and irregular two- and three-dimensional figures regardless of orientation or size; and
Verdict: name verses classify and sort; shapes versus regular and irregular 2D and 3D figures. 90%

Common Core: K.G.A.3 Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, "flat") or three-dimensional ("solid”).
TEKS: §111.2(b)(8)(C) sort a variety of objects including two- and three-dimensional geometric figures according to their attributes and describe how the objects are sorted.
Verdict: Knowing the difference between 2D and 3D shapes is just implicit in the TEKS. *shrugs* 50%

Common Core: K.G.B.4 Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/"corners") and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).
TEKS: §111.2(b)(8)(C) sort a variety of objects including two- and three-dimensional geometric figures according to their attributes and describe how the objects are sorted.

Common Core: K.G.B.5 Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
TEKS: §111.2(b)(6)(F)  create two-dimensional shapes using a variety of materials and drawings.
Verdict: CC seems to go for the 3D via their e.g. while the TEKS clearly state 2D. I give points to the TEKS for being written more clearly without the need for an example, but the CC points for going into the 3D and giving examples for clarity.

Common Core: K.G.B.6 Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, "Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”
TEKS§111.2(b)(6)(A) identify two-dimensional shapes, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares as special rectangles;
Verdict: I really love the way the CC provides examples. And their standard definitely beat ours here. 50%

Left over TEKS standards: draw your own conclusions.
(2)(E)  generate a set using concrete and pictorial models that represents a number that is more than, less than, and equal to a given number up to 20;
(4)  Number and operations. The student applies mathematical process standards to identify coins in order to recognize the need for monetary transactions. The student is expected to identify U.S. coins by name, including pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
(6)(C)  identify two-dimensional components of three-dimensional objects; Really CC? you left this out?
(8)(B)  use data to create real-object and picture graphs; and
(9)(A)  identify ways to earn income;
(9)(B)  differentiate between money received as income and money received as gifts;
(9)(C)  list simple skills required for jobs; and
(9)(D)  distinguish between wants and needs and identify income as a source to meet one's wants and needs.