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Common Core math standards too challenging for little kids? This teacher and early childhood expert says, “Not at all!”

Critics of Common Core often argue that the standards–particularly the math standards–are too challenging and are developmentally inappropriate for children. Indeed, it was the basis of several testimonies to the House and Senate Education Committee when they were considering bills on standards and testing in this legislative session.

But Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood education (holder of the University of Denver’s Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning and serves as the Executive Director of the Marsico Institute of Early Learning and Literacy), disagrees.  In an article featured in Preschool Matters, he and his co-authors say that people use the phrase “developmentally appropriate” as a “Rorschach test for whatever a person wants to see or argue against.” (more…)

Talk to your child and good things happen – Concord Monitor editorial

There are many important initiatives in New Hampshire to support early childhood development but, so far, with no substantial support from the State.  There are several modest bills pending in the Legislature that serve to put the discussion on the plate.  Today’s lead editorial in the Concord Monitor contributes to the discussion by featuring the innovative Providence Talks program: (more…)

Guess What, Mom? Common Core Can Be Good for Your Kindergartener – Erika Sanzi

Here’s a smart and well observed piece on learning to read:

I am always torn when I read pieces like that of Sarah Blaine, who shared her views on the Common Core State Standards for kindergartners. The gist of her piece, published on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog, is that based on her personal experience with her two daughters, she sees the standards as “developmentally inappropriate” for kindergartners.


James Milgram: “Are you going to believe me or your lyin’ eyes”

No.  Dr. Milgram didn’t say that.  But he might as well have.  Next time you hear some theoretical debate about whether the Common Core is developmentally appropriate, think of this video.

See more here.

Jenn Manning, Newton kindergarten teacher: “My students used to write fairy tales. Now they write opinion pieces.”

At the June 16 Hollis/Brookline Common Core forum, Ms. Jenn Manning, Newton Elementary School kindergarten teacher tells it like it is. (more…)

Kindergarten can be both challenging and playful – EdWeek

This Education Week opinion piece is intrinsically interesting because experienced researchers are saying what experienced New Hampshire kindergarten teachers are, that there is no inherent conflict between academics and the play kids need.  You do still see journalism like this Psychology Today piece.  However, in an email to me, preeminent early childhood researcher Greg Duncan of UC Irvine said the same thing New Hampshire teacher do: “Smart educators understand the nature of play, that young children are happiest when they are active, and how instruction can be built into play-based activities.” (more…)

Portsmouth teachers illustrate Common Core results – Portsmouth Herald

Last night, Portsmouth elementary school teachers demonstrated the impact of the new Common Core standards in their classrooms.  There were no debates about “developmental appropriateness” or who wrote or funded the standards.  The teachers were just reporting to the school board on the impressive results of their teaching to the new standards in their first and third grade classrooms. (more…)

Questions in response to a Barrington, NH, middle school teacher’s critique of the Common Core

Larry Graykin, Barrington Middle School English teacher, recently posted a guest editorial opposing the Common Core on NH Labor News.  He brings a lot of credibility as a teacher, but I do have questions about his post.

First, why does Mr. Graykin rely so much on secondary sources and outside experts when he could draw upon has his own classroom experience and that of his peers in Barrington and around the state?  He uses familiar references that are in general circulation but his classroom is more interesting and credible.  Mr. Graykin is in his classroom every day and can make a valuable contribution to the discussion based on the results he is seeing – or not – as he uses the new standards.

Here are some examples where I think Mr. Graykin’s own experience would have served him better than the experts.


House Education Committee testimony by Milgram and Stotsky has no news for New Hampshire


Drs. Milgram and Stotsky have made a career of traveling the country opposing the Common Core on the basis that all the other participants are engaged in a conspiracy and that only Milgram and Stotsky know how to teach math and English.

They both submitted testimony to the New Hampshire House Education Committee making those very points.  Here is James Milgram testimony to NH House Education Committee and here is Stotsky’s. (more…)

Common Core standards bring dramatic changes to elementary school math | EdSource Today

Here is a great article from EdSource, a California group dedicated to improving teaching and learning.  Although CA could not be further from NH in every way, this whole story about how the Common Core math standards are affecting K-3 teaching in CA sounds as if it could have come from Sanborn, Whitefield, Portsmouth or many other NH school districts.

A particularly good story comes at the end of the piece:

Juh’Ziyah Atchinson, 5, was one the students who couldn’t seem to get it right. Dawson, who has been trained in a method of teaching mathematics called cognitively guided instruction, was more interested in understanding why Juh’Ziyah kept counting bears twice than he was in correcting her. The idea behind this method is for teachers to build on a child’s existing knowledge about math to guide them to the correct answer, rather than quickly correcting them. Instead of simply telling Juh’Ziyah to only count each bear once, Dawson started a conversation with the little girl to determine if she even understood that basic counting rule.

Path of discovery

“I’m not an imparter of information,” Dawson said later. “I want my children to discover.”

Getting them to discover often means conversations where Dawson simply says out loud what he’s seen a child do – “I noticed you counted a few (bears) twice.” Observations like this are meant to make a child reflect on what she has just done and hopefully learn something new by being directed to focus on the actions called out by the teacher.