Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

I went through high school with straight A’s in everything, and C’s and D’s in algebra I and algebra II.

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2007 at 1:51 pm

You are forgetting the kids for whom the “reform” math actually helps make math accessible to them. My daughter (RHS grad) would have benefited greatly from this. In fact, I would have benefited from it! Instead, both she and I struggled continuously and eventually just gave up, with little opportunity for alternative ways to learn math concepts. I went through high school with straight A’s in everything, and C’s and D’s in algebra I and algebra II, and that’s it — no geometry, nothing else. Took a basic math class in college to fulfill the requirement. But never really learned. I tried, but teachers simply did not know how to explain it in a way I could actually learn. Now when I read some of the TERC or Everyday Math solutions, they make sense to me! They sound an awful lot like the methods I have figured out for myself! If I had this kind of teaching 30 years ago, I might not have been a “math-hater” all my life.

I know you all are the majority and you obviously have kids who can handle the structure of “old-school” math, but just don’t forget that there ARE kids out there who benefit from a more verbal and conceptual approach. That’s why this stuff was developed in the first place. I guess those kids, like my daughter and I, are expendable?



Ancient History of Halloween

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2007 at 11:32 am

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

Reader submits questions for the Ridgewood Blog Political Poll

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2007 at 4:20 pm

How many politicians from the state of New Jersey will be indicted in the next 90 days?

a) 1
b) 10
c) all of them
d) Its Bush’s fault

How many residents will move out of the state of New Jersey in the next 12 months?

a) 50,000
b) 1,000,000
c) all of them
d) No other state wants them

How long will it take to raise your state taxes after the November election?

a) 1 minute
b) 1 day
c) 30 days
d) Its Bush’s fault

How large will the state budget deficit be this year?

a) 1 billion
b) 3 billion
c) 10 billion
d) What deficit?

How many dead people will vote in the next election in New Jersey?

a) 10,000
b) 15,000
c) all of them
d) Even dead people won’t vote for these idiots

How much money will Jon Corzine pay off to his next Mistress?

a) $500,000
b) $1,000,000
c) $10,000,000
d) He wont he’ll cheat her out of it also

The next governor of New Jersey will be?

a) Hugo Chaves
b) Raul Castro
c) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
d) A player to be named later

Indy Movie : Concert In The Park

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Concert In The Park

Indy Movie : Bear in Car

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Bear in a Car

One public schools evaluation of TERC and Everyday Math.

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2007 at 12:52 pm

Linked below is the Cherry Hill school district’s evaluation of Everyday Math and TERC Investigations. It is wonderful that Cherry Hill placed this document on their public schools website. Wouldn’t it nice to see a similar evaluation that was done for Ridgewood Public Schools before the purchase of these programs?

This document outlines the pros and cons of both programs starting on page 16. While parents in Ridgewood have identified most of these problems, it’s refreshing to see them outlined in an official school document that was created in another district by another Superintendent in Charge of Curriculum.

Here is an excerpt from the page on TERC listing the constraining forces for Investigations.

It will be a BIG switch for many teachers to let kids struggle and develop strategies and solutions and to not teach them the rules

First year requires lots of support/initial planning to set up games, etc.

Planning requires tremendous amount of out-of-class preparation.

Assessments – don’t match NJ ASK, district math tests (no basic computation)

Lack of direct instruction, structure, review, and repetition will affect special ed population (recognition & review thru games is present)

Need math to be 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes

The following were listed as positives of the program.

Allows teachers to construct their own meaning about math which leads to deeper understanding of concepts

Encourages teachers to consider their math knowledge and hopefully seek out resources to support it

Clearly goes through multiple ways and activities for each lesson

I encourage everyone who is looking for more information to read through the documents Pros and Cons that begin on Page 16.

Netflix, Inc.

I recently decided to take a break from teaching, despite the fact that I loved it,

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2007 at 1:02 pm

I recently decided to take a break from teaching, despite the fact that I loved it, because it had become near impossible to really make a difference due to all the factors both of these posters mentioned. I was working far harder than any of my students and getting very little in the way of results. Consider:

Kids would fail tests, and when asked to self-report how much time they spent preparing, on a scale of 1 to 10, most told me their study time was about a “3”.

My administrators kept imploring me to lower expectations and to make it easier for all children to “succeed”, which really meant get As.

I was asked to expand my honors section to allow more kids in due to increased parental pressure. As a result, the work of the honors class was slowed down to accomodate the 10 children who didn’t belong there.

When I tried to require that students write in grammatically correct sentences, parents told me that that wasn’t my job…I wasn’t the English teacher (I guess literacy is only required on certain occasions.)

The curriculum I was given (Everyday Math), barely scratched the surface as far as I was concerned, so hours and hours went into catching up the kids who reached me deficient in basic skills. This left less time to teach my grade level curriculum.

I’m not complaining. Also, there were some great administrators, teachers parents, and kids that I worked with along the way. I loved teaching, when EVERYONE – teacher, parent, child, administrator -showed up at the same time, ready to do their job educating the children. Unfortunately, I felt like too many days and in too many cases, I was in the fight alone. I decided to take time off to wage my own children’s battles here at home, supplementing an inadequate curriculum, fighting inept administration, and loving and supporting my kids as they work hard to learn.

Apple iTunes

Sorry that you question my experiences. I did teach in the “upper school” of a K-8 school, where Everyday Math was used through grade 6, suplemented with Glencoe which took over from late 6-8. I taught honors sections in 6th and oversaw placement for honors in 6th and 7th.

As to the issue of requesting proper grammar, I did so on free response questions where kids were asked to explain or elaborate upon a response. Believe it or not, even a full sentence or two was too much for some of the kids to be bothered constructing. (Let’s not even address spelling!!)

My intent was not to align myself with those who love or hate a certain curriculum. I just wanted to make the point that the state of schools today is sad. It goes beyond curriculum discussions and beyond Ridgewood. I wanted to teach since I was a child (I know…it sounds hokey and romaticized, but it’s true) When I started teaching (15 years ago), I worked with some of the best and brightest administrators and colleagues, all of whom were committed to the highest standards. Students understood that the reason they were in class was to learn my subject and to meet the standards all their teachers held for them.

Over time, my colleagues and I have definitely seen a change. The administrators are often looking to make their mark with some new curricular initiative. They make quick judgements, bend to political pressure, and have very little long-term view. Young teachers coming in are not receiving the same kind of university preparation that we had years ago. Additionally, many of the brightest HS graduates would not even consider a career in education as I did after graduating at the top of my HS class. That’s not to say that there aren’t great administrators and excellent young teachers; there are. However, there are fewer of them, and I would argue that the best of today are not as good as the best were even 10 years ago.

I don’t have the answers. I know that the kids are being short-changed. I also felt that since I didn’t have answers, and I couldn’t fight the tide anymore, it was time to leave for a while and take a break. I hope those of you fighting this can engage other teachers in town who want more for your children. (Mine are almost finished) They have to be out there.

Microsoft - Windows Marketplace<img border=”0″ width=”1″ height=”1″ src=”http://ad.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/show?

and another retired teacher speaks out :I read the comments on the teacher leaving her job post. very true but this watering down of curricula started happening a long time ago and kiss ass administrators were always around. whats newer is the new generation parents who insist on making life very soft for their children. these parents are part of the root of the real problem. teachers need support mostly from the home and secondly from the school administrators.teacher knowledge is another area of weakness.educationg teachers has been watered down in the past 25 years and this is reflected in lesson plans and basic teacher knowledge. also the young group of teachers is from that soft upbringing mentioned above. i don’t know if they realize they are role models for their students passing on what they learned at home.

Why is it that the reform math debate must always swerve into an exchange of arguments about the fitness/non-fitness of the district’s teachers?

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Why is it that the reform math debate must always swerve into an exchange of arguments about the fitness/non-fitness of the district’s teachers?

The real debate is about the preposterous reform math materials the district insists on purchasing and foisting upon all the teachers, good, bad, and average alike.

For years now Ridgewood parents have learned and worked the ropes sufficiently to maneuver their children into the classes of those teachers who have achieved unofficial “great teacher” status via good word of mouth, and to prevent their children from becoming stuck in the classrooms of those few teachers known to be “mailing it in” until they can afford to retire. This will never change, regardless of any adjustments to the content or the direction of the curriculum.

Can’t we stipulate that there are plenty of great teachers in the Ridgewood district, and get about the business of removing the impediments such teachers face in guiding their students through an already challenging course of study?

It has been said that we can “say what we will” about Botsford, Ives & Company. Obviously, nobody was waiting around waiting for the go-ahead to begin doing this!

Anyone who reads this blog and is aware of any arguments or data in support of B, I & Co.’s curriculum development philosophy should have the courage to engage in this debate. Why not do so when the ability to do so anonymously is not in question?

That said, those who are in favor of the present system try to lay out a defense of their position that amounts to something more than “the results speak for themselves”. IMHO, the results to which they refer are just as likely to be happening in spite of, as opposed to because of, the radical changes being imposed on the district.

So the only way to resolve this dispute is to get into the relevant details (such as the real percentage of students receiving substantial amounts of subject matter tutoring). To date, the district has steadfastly refused to do so. The bottom line question is therefore–Why such silence?

J&R Computer/Music World

Thanks for having an independent mind and the courage to use it to produce the right results.

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2007 at 3:59 pm

To the Bergen teacher in an “affluent” district who risks her standing on behalf of her your students by secreting old Addison materials into her classroom: Thank you. Thanks for having an independent mind and the courage to use it to produce the right results. Thanks also for not referring to them as “learners”. You are a true “teacher”.

I presume you are also aware that the publishers of traditional math curriculums have now updated their textbook and curriculum offerings to incorporate the valuable and useful parts of the Everyday Math/Investigations materials, such as “manipulatives”. The fact that such materials have not been incorporated not as part of the main instructional “thrust”, but rather as an addendum, tells me that these publishers view such materials as being most beneficial when used as an optional activity geared toward enhancing understanding of the main math lesson.

The point of this is, your district has only officially sanctioned what traditional math publishers consider the “fun and games” part of an appropriate modern math curriculum. Not only that, but the fact that the only suiable supplementation materials you have at your disposal are old Addison materials tells us your district is unwilling or unable to officially recognize this deficit by committing real resources to eliminate it.

In the Ridgewood district, we have learned that the professional administrators involved in curriculum development have an emotional, almost religious devotion to the Reform Math movement. As a practical matter, this means that in any school in which Everyday Math or TERC/Investigations materials form the core math curriculum, any supplementation of such materials (if there is even any time to do this) can only be done in an ad hoc, cobbled together, piecemeal fashion. In any given week during which the Reform Math curriculum takes up all the “retail shelf space” (i.e., all the available time in the classroom, and at home via homework), the supplementary materials have to remain in the supply closet.

In those rare instances in which the adminstrators take time out of their busy schedules to try to explain to parents and taxpayers why things are the way they are, or more particularly, why they are so different from the way we may prefer them to be, the only thing they ever seem to say is that “the district favors a balanced approach.”

Presented with nothing other than this cryptic statement, we can use logic to conclude that the district must not “favor” any “approach” that lacks balance. Yet as I explained above, this is precisely what occurs week-in, week-out in those schools in which Reform Math forms the core curriculum.

So in Ridgewood, the words “favor a balanced approach”, when viewed a light most favorable to the district, must actually mean “We wistfully imagine or dream about an aspirational goal of one day achieving balance. But if what is happening in our classrooms in the meantime is the absolute antithesis of balance, we’re not inclined to intervene.”

So it is clear that for at least the foreseeable future, the Ridgewood district will continue to turn a blind eye to classrooms where an utter and complete imbalance exists in favor of reform math.

The publishers of traditional math curriculums, having now enhanced recent editions of their textbooks and workbooks with the best aspects of reform math, would appear to have responded to this stated preference for “balance”. Yet for some reason, the Ridgewood district has lost the phone number to each and every one of these publishers.

Parents and taxpayers in Ridgewood are now demanding that the district act on its stated preference for balance by putting its money where its mouth is. Yet the district continues to pour money into the pockets of the intransigent Reform Math publishers.

We ask why they say one thing and do another, and that’s exactly when they explicably lose their voice!

This is the process by which we in Ridgewood have come to learn what our curriculum development professionals are all about. For nearly three years these individuals have been freed from the shackles of a full-time superintendent. As a result, they have become completely unconcerned with the comings and goings of the snoozing trustees of our Board of Education. Left to their own devices, they gone off the deep end and exposed their narrow-minded biases for all to see.

The jarring disconnect between the words of our curriculum development professinals and their actions is simply too obvious to be denied. Normal people who are daily accountable to real bosses and who cut sizeable checks for large mortgage payments and hefty tax assessments (read: Ridgewood’s parents and taxpayers) just don’t do this sort of thing. The main reason for this is obvious: such behavior is simply unacceptable in the real world, and will get you fired before you can even say “I favor a balanced approach!”

Our only hope appears to be to

1) put together the right people on the Board of Education with a mandate to find and hire the right Superintendant, who will

2) have the guts to fire intransigent and agenda-driven (non-tenured) curriculum development professionals, or demand their resignations, and

3) hire a new curriculum development team truly dedicated to the best interests of the students, willing and able to accept responsibility with dignity, and comfortable with demonstrating true accountability and transparency to the parents and taxpayers, both with regard to the math curriculum and otherwise.

Help Wanted: a modern Hercules. Work environment: an enormous and very rudely smelling stable. Job responsibility: Clean It Up! Credentials required: Two strong arms and the ability to face an impossible job without fear. Compensation: the gratitude of an entire village (and maybe a statue of yourself, prominently displayed in front of our new parking garage!)


the fly has heard…….

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2007 at 9:09 pm

….. that there was to be a safety meeting set up by the principal of Travell to include parents and valley hospital. Last minute Valley canceled stating that they would not go before an open mike. Do you think that the parents of Travell need to know what is going on at Valley?

The fly asks , Is this expansion possibly a done deal and they need not answer to the public?

3balls Golf