Friday, September 27, 2013

The Game of Risk - Common Core Style

One of my very first posts was on the Game of Risk - Public Education Style.  Well, with the Common Core the environment has changed quite a bit.

Here is how things are going to go.

First off, the game masters do not care if you like Monopoly, Battleship, Clue, or any other board games.  The game masters do not care if you like UNO, Skip-o, Phase-Ten or any other card games.  Throw them all out.  The only game you're allowed to play is Risk.

Each Common Core Risk game was hastily made.  Each game will come with missing pieces.  In fact, you will be just given a board at first.  Players will be expected to create their own pieces.  The game masters will send out pieces, not all of them, by the end of the first year.  They don't care what your pieces look like or if you even have enough to play.  In fact, during this time they don't even know what they want the pieces to look like.

At the beginning of the second year the game masters will release some more pieces, but not all of them.  Throughout this year, the rest of the pieces will be released whenever they feel like releasing them.  All the meanwhile, players will be expected to be highly strategic, or at least strategic, even if the lack of pieces makes it difficult for them to develop their strategy.

Oh, by the way, nothing is ever the game masters' fault.

Players may find that some of the game pieces released by the game masters will be too big for some of the countries on the board to handle.  The game masters don't care.  The pieces were not designed for all countries and when playing with these pieces, those countries should be ignored.  The game masters understand that the rules state no country should be left unconquered.  However, the game masters will exempt you from this rule as long as you play by all the new rules.  No single player can win a game.  A game is considered finished when all countries have the same amount of game pieces on them.  I know that this is a contradiction of what was said before and an impossibility, but the game masters have ignored this fact in the past and will continue to disregard it in the future.  Have fun!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Work Today...

...well, not really.  I was actually at work.  I went in two hours early to do some podcasting for my eighth graders.  I was podcasting problems from the state modules and I came across this problem.


I was on my first take for the podcast, only to realize that I misread the problem before hand.  I am not going to get into the math too deep, but to put it shortly, I thought I was multiplying a monomial by a monomial.  You can watch.  In the clip, I am too busy just trying to read the numbers that I do not notice that it is actually a binomial times a binomial.  It finally hits me as I read the second dimension. Watch how I react...

You can tell by my reaction that I was left wondering.  In fact, I expressed what I was wondering on my twitter account.

I could not believe what I was seeing, so I checked the answer key and this is what I saw.

The next several minutes I sat there wondering what I should do.  Do I have my students try it or not?  I made the decision that I would skip this problem and not show it to my students.  This problem is from the second lesson in the state's first module for 8th grade math.  Looking through the module, I realize that I am going to have to do this with a good deal of the problems from the module notes.  Again I am in between a rock and a hard place.  On one end of the spectrum I am directed to use these modules and on the other end are my students who will actually bare the consequences of that directive.  Last year, in the midst of the barrage of testing that my students had to face, I was the last line of defense for them.  I adjusted my classroom and do not quiz or test as much as I have.  This year I find myself amidst another battle where I have to be the last line of defense for my students in respects to these modules.

Never a dull moment.

On a positive note, I shared the clip with some of my colleagues and we had a good laugh.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Problem With MOOCs.

Here is an interesting article on MOOCs. If you don’t have time to read it I will give you a short version of it. MOOC is short for “Massive Open Online Course”. From my understanding, the article discusses MOOCs at the higher education level offered for credit and they can be free or be offered at a fraction of the normal cost. This article continues to discuss how they have not been successful and the “revolution” that was anticipated to occur by offering this free/low cost opportunity to learners has come to a halt. The author discusses MOOC competitors and the low success rate of MOOCs, but it does not go into depth as to what the underlying problem is. To state it as concisely as I can: 12 years of traditional education.

Think about it. For twelve years, students fall victim to developing a motivation in education that is fueled by someone else pushing them along. For twelve years, our schools have slowly developed students who enjoy the ride, but are not allowed to be the navigator in their journey. Starting with the gentle pat on the back to get on the bus on day one of kindergarten and sometimes ending with a forceful shove out of bed the senior year, a parent is a main motivation for why a student steps into our schools. Once they enter the school, the parent hands the reins over to the teacher. As I said before, the student is typically in the passenger seat during this whole time. Enter college and the reins are traditionally handed over to degree requirements to determine what courses a student enrolls in and, once enrolled, the reins are then handed over to the professor as the student steps into the classroom. The problem with MOOCs is that the reins are in the student’s hands and they do not know what to do with them. In this situation, to take the bull by the horns we have to think about the underlying theory of a MOOC.

The theory for a MOOC is similar to a matador dangling his cape in front of a bull until it comes charging through. Unfortunately, the “bulls” we produce in education need to be pulled, pushed, or prodded to engage the matador’s cape. If the higher ups want MOOCs to work at that level, they need to encourage public education to adopt a change of attitude at its level. State education departments need to back off and allow teachers to become matadors and our students to become charging bulls. I have said it before and I will say it again, 21st century technology has not been allowed to produce 21st century classrooms because of 20th century attitudes. The success of MOOCs depends on public education because the problem with MOOCs is not that they are ahead of the times, but they are ahead of the current attitudes in that realm.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Is there a Common Core Standard for curiosity?

Enjoying one of my last weekends before school starts, I marveled as my son played on the river side.  He was collecting "seaweed".  My first thoughts were to tell him to stop because of how gross I thought it was, but I bit my tongue.  I began to think to myself when did I develop a fear of icky seaweed.  Then it hit me.  I did not develop a fear.  I lost the curiosity that my son was exhibiting.  A curiosity that was at the forefront of his inhibitions and fears.  Just think.  The first time a baby sees anything, the baby's first instinct is to reach out and touch it.  Even a buzzing bee would entice a baby's curiosity.  Typically, fear develops through an adult's panicky response.  This is how curiosity is traditionally stifled, by prior expectations and guidance.  Curiosity is meant to flow free.  Its path is determine by its next question, not someone else's expectations of where it should go.

As I watched him gather handful after handful of the stuff, my mind fast forwarded into this year.  He is entering kindergarten.  How much of his curiosity will he lose during his first year of becoming career and college ready?  How much did my wife and I take away from him to get him ready for kindergarten?  How much would I have took from him if I yelled down to him "Stop playing with that, that's gross"?  After these thoughts, I returned to my roots.  I put my camera down and joined my son.  I picked up some of the seaweed and marveled at the squishy texture that was feeding his curiosity.  I threw it down on a rock and it plopped.  I turned to my son and as we shared a laugh I wondered "Why isn't there a standard to protect this?"