On the verge of summer

May 31, 2014 at 10:53 am 38 comments

Slip Slide

Hi everyone,

As you may (or possibly may not) have noticed I’ve been largely absent for a month.  The blog and my Blackberry got disconnected and I realized it was good for my mental state not to be reading a CPSO comment every 5 minutes throughout the day.

I’ve been focusing on some personal life stuff along with the school musical (the ability of a drama teacher to coral 70 kids into an engaging and impressive show is mind-boggling to me) science fair (probably the nail in the coffin for academic center admission) and… lice!  Yes, those little buggers have made a comeback after several years (likely musical-related given the close proximity of the 70 kids.)  I’m also pondering why a child waits until 10pm to say “my head is itchy, can you take a look?”  Sighhhhhh….

I’m ready for summer and lack of homework and lunch-making.  As I said EVERY summer, my kid needs some math practice and instead of doing the slacker version of mommy-math, I’m going to inquire about Kumon to make sure he’s up to speed in the fall.  The RGC math continues to move really quickly and it’s easy to get behind once the concepts ramp up.

So with the year winding down, I’ll be back to making some more regular posts.  I have a shiny new subscription to the NYTimes, so I can post some good education articles over the summer that we can discuss.

And let me know if there’s anything else, CPS-wise, that is worth some discussion.  The summer is usually a slower time here with CPS postings, but also a good time to talk about more theoretical stuff.   And I’ll try to plan a little get-together for some wine and talk this summer if anyone is interested.

See you back in the comments section…

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

NYTimes article on impactful college essays Bullying in CPS and at Ogden (new Trib Article)

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. maman  |  May 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Sorry about the lice. I know way more about lice than I should. Those creepy crawlers are a nightmare! I hope you were able to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

  • 2. Jen L  |  May 31, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Our daughter wishes no summer homework. 6 weeks of Algebra 1 course and 6 weeks of test prep (MAP, HSPT, ISEE, SSAT). Probably mostly MAP prep since that will be first test for us in the fall. But she’ll still have plenty of free time.

    Of course I will spend some time pushing back on representatives on Common Core. Something I can finally agree with the CTU. I dont mind testing, but curriculum is a disaster. Keep local control of curriculum. No cookie cutter fed program. But I dont hold out much hope. Too many corp $ and politician palm greasing going on.

    Stay cool!

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  May 31, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Common Core could be a good discussion topic. I have been ranting occasionally on Facebook about some of the stupid wording of CC math problems (the “how do you KNOW this is the answer” bit. A friend scolded me for referring to this as Common Core. It just seems to occur in the CC-labelled books. Not sure what to call it – new math?

  • 4. karet  |  May 31, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    @3, Here’s a funny answer to the “how do you KNOW”? question — see #20.

  • 5. Angie  |  May 31, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    CPSO – can we have a general CPS discussion thread? From time to time, things come up that may not be worth the entire new post, but it would be nice to have a place to discuss them.

  • 6. ChicagoMomofBoys  |  May 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    As we get close to the new school year, how about a thread with tips for CPS newbies? On the top of my list: send your kid in Velcro or slip-on shoes if they’re not proficient in tying laces. With such large class sizes, we learned the hard way that teachers don’t always have time to re-tie them.

  • 7. Even One More CPS Mom  |  May 31, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    If anyone has feedback on Kumon versus The Mathnasium versus Sylvan summer (or even school year) math support I would be interested in hearing. Thanks!

  • 8. anonymouse teacher  |  May 31, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    @6, YES! Thank you! I’ve often wanted to put that on my supply list! None of my students can tie shoes, at least at the start of the year and I am endlessly tying them. I put holes in the knees of all of my pants each year because I’m down on the floor all the time. Velcro is god’s gift to early childhood teachers!

  • 9. LynnJ  |  May 31, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    welcome back CPSO!

    When the new school year starts, how about a general thread for people to update us on how things are going at their SEES, magnet or neighborhood school? Once school starts, everyone drops off the radar and we don’t hear anything again until the process begins again. Just a thought.

  • 10. OTdad  |  June 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

    @3 CPSO:
    “Common Core could be a good discussion topic.”
    Sure it is. Isn’t Common Core just a set of standards about at which grade a student should master which skills? It’s not a curriculum. The existing curriculums only need some adjustments to the order of contents to be considered Common Core aligned. I’m not sure there is new math.

    Our 4-year old son is working on 1st grade Singapore Math, we bought some “Singapore Math Practice” workbooks from COSTCO. On the covers, the books clearly marked that 1st grade Singapore Math is appropriate for 2nd grade, I guess that’s prior to Common Core standards, because the subjects are similar to the 1st grade Common Core aligned Everyday Math, which our daughter is using at a SEES Kindergarten.

  • 11. Mom  |  June 1, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Is there anyway you can post the information about how many students each particular school got into each selective enrollment high school? Can you also do the same for the academic centers? I know this information has been posted in years past but I haven’t seen anything lately.

  • 12. Family Friend  |  June 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Yes, Common Core are standards, not curriculum, and I think they are a vast improvement over what we have had. I have been dealing with the results of non-aligned elementary and high school standards, and I will be so glad when the things high school students are presumed to know are in the elementary school standards. Yes, there will be a huge drop in the number of students meeting standards, but with our previously weak standards, the “passing rate” was grossly inflated as a measure of whether students were learning what they needed to know to make it in the world. When we see how bad it is, I hope everyone will double down to make it better, rather than howling about the standards and curricula.

    With respect “How do you know that?” I think that is the essential question for all of education. It’s the measure of critical thinking. I don’t usually tutor math, but it’s a question I ask my students about their writing all the time. Our world is too full of people talking off the tops of their heads. We all should use a governor to ensure that if we state something as a fact, it’s actually a fact, and that if we state an opinion, it’s grounded in fact.

  • 13. Elem&HSmom  |  June 1, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    CPSO, thanks for the update – I am curious on how science fair impacts academic center admission, as you seem to imply on your post above. I thought AC admission was only based on testing and grades . . . Is there a record on the science fair project grade that is kept on the official student transcripts?

  • 14. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  June 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    The “how do you know that” question makes sense for complicated tasks or research (e.g., “One is two marriages end in divorce” No.), but when a 3rd grader who memorized multiplication tables is asked to explain how 6 x 2 = 12, don’t be surprised if they answer “by multiplying, ass-wit.”

  • 15. anonymouse teacher  |  June 1, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Kids have to be able to explain how 6×2=12. That’s a huge push in Common Core (along with faster and better fluent recall of facts) and actually, has always been a goal as long as I’ve been teaching.
    Don’t get me wrong. When I ask my kindergarten students “what is the setting in the story–where does the story happen?” they look at me and sometimes say, “in the book”. (Its sort of funny, they are so literal) But truly, explaining why things are, why do we carry the 1 in addition (because its actually a ten), is just scratching the surface for the deep understanding that Common Core is going for.
    I don’t know how many parents (or even teachers for that matter) understand fully the dramatic shifts in instruction and learning are really in process of taking place with Common Core. It isn’t merely that certain things are being taught in different years. It isn’t merely an approach of “more depth”, although it certainly is deeper. Common Core brings a complete and total change in how we teach, what we teach, what students are being asked to do, the materials we need, etc. Just 3 years ago, the general consensus was that kindergarteners should be reading at level B (Fountas and Pinnell). Now? If they are at level E, they are just average. That’s a huge jump–kindergarten isn’t the new first grade, its the new second grade. And that’s only reading level. That doesn’t address the kinds of deep understandings kids have to have, be able to discuss intelligently, and write about as 5 year olds.
    On a side note, to the poster who talked about his kids’ CC aligned EM—just fyi, that was just a sticker that EM as a company slapped on their new editions. Nothing has been CC aligned yet in EM. They are still working on doing that. It will be a few years before anything aligned comes out.

  • 16. 2nd grade parent  |  June 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    for discussion thread requests (see 5,6,9) – can’t we use the forums that CPSO created?? I believe posters are able to start their own threads and there are folders already created to catalog the ongoing contributions to typical topics like specific schools. just a thought…


  • 17. Chiteacherandmom  |  June 1, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Any thoughts about Kumon? I am thinking of enrolling my 4 year old this summer for Math.

  • 18. realchicagomama  |  June 2, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Wine and education talk = sounds perfect!

  • 19. klm  |  June 2, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Five years ago, I’d have thought “summer tutoring” (except for kids that really did need remediation, for whom it’s a great idea, of course) was not a good idea –come on, give the kids a break and let them have fun, then they’ll be “rested” for school in September.

    Now? I’m kinda’ thinking that if one of my kids that scores in the low-mid 90s percentile-wise gets a little push in the summer, Tier 4 admission to BPJWY is more likely in a few years.. Plus, they’ll eventually do just better enough to get the “right” score on the ACT to get into Northwestern….etc. I’m not OBSESSED by these thoughts, I just have them now. I didn’t before.

    I don’t want to move to the suburbs or have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for HS (with all the kids that I have that’s what it would cost), so I’m a little more open to the idea of doing some math and language arts stuff over the summer, rather than just Six Flags, the beach, binge watching Nickleodeon, etc.

    As it is, I’ll be driving all over town with the various summer “day camps” for cooking, tennis, swimming, art, circus performance (really) and God knows what else.

    Whatever happend to the summer days when older kids woke up late, sat around watching Phil Donahue while eating Froot Loops on the couch? Those were the days.

  • 20. Curious  |  June 2, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I’d like to see how our current 7th graders did on the Spring NWEA test (percentile-wise) since this will go into the high school formula. Did we see a drop in scores as predicted?

  • 21. smadness  |  June 2, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Just wanted to say thank you for this blog! I have been following CPSO for many years and it has helped me navigate, commiserate and get through the craziness that is CPS. I am soo glad to be through with the testing/ tutoring/ admissions games. Both my kids were fortunate enough to be accepted at Jones with one graduating tonight. The years fly by. Good luck to all and your children. Enjoy the summer that has finally arrived :). And for the parents of juniors brace yourself for becoming College Obsessed. That process is NUTS !

  • 22. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  June 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    @15. anonymouse teacher

    Kids have to be able to explain how 6×2=12. That’s a huge push in Common Core (along with faster and better fluent recall of facts)….

    I mis-wrote. They should be able to explain how they got 12 by multiplying 6 x 2 (“6 x 2 is 2 sets of 6, and 6 + 6 =12 so 6 x 2 is 12”) but many workbooks often ask students to explain why 6 x 2=12. There is no CCSS requirement that students at any level, let alone 3rd grade, be able to explain why a x b=c. They can’t; few people can. Multiplication is presented as either a definition or an axiom. Wu and other career mathematicians would have resigned from the CCSS math panel otherwise. One might say that multiplying is like adding groups of numbers (2 groups of 6 or 3 groups of 4), but that is not an explanation of multiplication. The CCSS math experts were very careful about how “explain” is used. 3rd grades should be able to explain patterns by referring to operations but not explain the operations themselves.

    Second, seeking an explanation and encouraging memorization and quick recall are at cross-purposes. If one asked a student what 6 x 2 was and he began to think “well, 6 x 2 is 2 sets of 6, and 6 + 6 =12 so 6 x 2 is 12” one has hampered the memorization-recall task.

    Just 3 years ago, the general consensus was that kindergarteners should be reading at level B (Fountas and Pinnell). Now? If they are at level E, they are just average.

    If that’s where we are headed, then count me as CCSS opponent in the primary grades at least as far as implementation is concerned. The standards don’t require reading knowledge for kindergarten. Something is very wrong here. The CCSS ELA standards only expect students to know the alphabet and recognize common words (e.g., the, does). Reading is at best “emergent”.

  • 23. Chris  |  June 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    “We all should use a governor to ensure that if we state something as a fact, it’s actually a fact, and that if we state an opinion, it’s grounded in fact.”

    Not that I have any argument with this, or anything, but I just had to say: Such a great straight line. So much to work with there that could be amusing, if you like political humor.

  • 24. RL Julia  |  June 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I;’m all over getting together…. we can talk about that book that I will now have to reread as I have forgotten most of it…

  • 25. OTdad  |  June 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    @22. Christopher Ball:
    I guess you are commenting on the Common Core standards in general. Here is my very limited experience with an actual Common Core math curriculum.

    When my son was 2 months from 4, he started working on 1st grade Singapore Math. I stumbled upon the 1st grade Common Core math curriculum of New York state:

    After going through 2 modules, I think the NY Common Core 1st grade math curriculum is superior to the likes of Singapore Math and Everyday Math. It goes to great lengths to cultivate a kid’s number sense. Surprisingly effective (to my son).

    “…CCSS opponent in the primary grades at least as far as implementation is concerned.” Could you explain why you are against implementing CCSS in the primary grades? If we don’t have standards in lower grades, it might be very hard to implement CCSS in higher grades.

  • 26. anonymouse teacher  |  June 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you for posting the Engage NY math page. This is similar to what we’ve done at my current school and which I’ll be taking with me to my new school. NY is far ahead of where most of Chicago is and its a good place to look at.

  • 27. cps alum  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Re: Common Core Math…I am a high school math teacher and very familiar with Common Core. I’ve read the math standards from cover to cover K-11 (the standards only go through junior year). I also have a kindergartener at a neighborhood school. I am alarmed at what math she is learning and how it is packaged as Common Core — it is not common core. She has brought home multiplication with products up to 100; division with dividends near 100; division with remainder; addition and subtraction of 3 digit numbers (without regrouping); place value to the thousands; recognizing patterns and finding the missing number in sequences such as 34, 37, …, 43.
    I have been trying to figure out what the purpose of all this is all year, and after reviewing a bit of the NWEA sample questions, I have come to the conclusion that is simply test prep for the NWEA.

  • 28. Even One More CPS Mom  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:21 am

    @ CPS alum. Wow! My first grader has brought nothing of that sort home with the exception of place value (I think to the hundreds) and finding the missing number in a pattern. Now also working on double digit addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing. Seems to me what you are describing in kindergarten is extreme. My child has also done some very, very basic multiplication (which they like to try for fun but have not got the hang of yet) but from what I understand that is simply something for the kids who are asking for and ready for more advanced math to explore at will and by no means part of the regular curriculum.

  • 29. RGC Parent  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

    “She has brought home multiplication with products up to 100; division with dividends near 100; division with remainder; addition and subtraction of 3 digit numbers (without regrouping); place value to the thousands; recognizing patterns and finding the missing number in sequences such as 34, 37, …, 43.”

    Wow, that’s crazy. We’ve seen nothing like that in K in RGC (maybe just the very beginnings of multiplication).

    Have the kids mastered addition and subtraction? Did all of this at least work for test prep?

  • 30. OTdad  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:50 am

    @27. cps alum:
    It’s possible that your daughter is very advanced and the teacher simply wanted to give her some differentiated teaching? It’s crazy that everyone in her neighborhood Kindergarten got that kind of homework.

  • 31. cps alum  |  June 3, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    @28-30– I don’t know about all the kids, but she is definitely not the only one getting this kind of homework. The 3 moms I’m friendly with also have gotten the same homework. I’m hoping that this is just differentiation and not for all the kids. IMO, the homework is too advanced. My daughter can do the problems, but I know that she does not have a full and complete understanding of what she is doing.

    Now I must say that the multiplication and division is not using an advanced algorithm. For example: her homework would have 6X7 and she will make six boxes and put seven dots in each box. Then she will count all the dots and come up with an answer of 42. For division she will get a problem like 45 / 9. She will make 45 dots circle groups of 9 and then count the groups to get 5. If she had a problem like 30 / 7 she would do the same as above, but 2 dots are left over so she would write an answer of 4 r 2.

  • 32. CPS Possessed  |  June 3, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    @27-31: See, it’s impossible to make everybody happy. Many complain that homework is too challenging; others are disappointed that academic rigor is subpar. Comments such as these could even be regarding various children in the Exact. Same. Classroom. And, of course, this all makes sense. EVERY KID IS DIFFERENT.

  • 33. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  June 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    @ 25. OTdad: I’m saying that what’s being described as necessary for the primary grade CC standards, especially kindergarten, is inconsistent with the CC standards. If the argument is that in order to implement new standards, which do not call for kindergarteners to read at a 2nd grade level by any reasonable interpretation, we must make kindergarteners read at the 2nd grade level then the implementation at this stage is fatally flawed and it’s time to go back to the drawing board to get it done right.

    Some of the material in the NY material looks like it is based on Singapore math: the manipulatives and the “number-bond” drawings for example.

    @32 But everyone agreed that it was unreasonable for all children to be doing that sort of work in K.

  • 34. Athens  |  June 5, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I love how no one is mentioning the “Ogden” incident. Ogden is one of the “good” schools.

  • 35. Anti-Semitism at Ogden  |  June 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

    @Athens: Head on over to the Elementary Magnet and Neighborhood Mailbox Watch thread (at least temporarily). I’ve been posting regular Ogden updates on there for the past few weeks.

  • 36. anonymouse teacher  |  June 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    @34, When I say kindergarteners are expected to do 2nd grade work, what I mean is this: kindergarteners are now expected to do what used to be 2nd grade work, ten years ago. Now, that level is just the new normal for kindergarten. That level of reading is now what the education world says is appropriate.
    Look at this below:


    F&P are THE experts in reading instruction across the country. Teachers and schools are doing what they are recommending. They have upped their levels (the lower grade requirements increased dramatically, the upper grades stayed about the same, but then go read some Fisher and Frey to see the depth of understanding those upper kids have to have–yikes).

    When I first started teaching K, 20 years ago, hardly anyone was teaching reading in K. That was a 1st grade thing. K was about colors and numbers and shapes and play. Now? I’m teaching my students how to write an opinion piece about a text and to cite textual evidence upon listening to a story. I’m teaching them to argue with evidence to make a point. I’m asking them to explain 4 different ways to get a sum of 10 and how they figured it out. I’m teaching them reading strategies that, years ago, weren’t used until the end of first or start of second grade.
    I think its too much too soon, to be honest, but its the standard we are being held to. It means a lot less time for things like social emotional development lessons and less time for play. This is all driven by CC even if the standards themselves don’t state levels.

  • 37. southie  |  June 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Sharing this:

    Earlier today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Saint Xavier University President Christine Wiseman, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and I announced an innovative new educational partnership between Saint Xavier University (SXU) and Morgan Park High School (MPHS). The talent and resources of Saint Xavier will compliment the planned expansion of the International Baccalaureate program at MPHS. Together, they will dramatically enhance the caliber of our neighborhood high school.

    Through this partnership, MPHS students will participate in both summer programs and actual college courses on the SXU campus. While there, they will have access to a wide variety of support services typically offered to incoming freshman including training on time management, note taking, college writing, health and wellness, career services, and much more.

    Saint Xavier will also bring their expertise to Morgan Park providing guidance to parents and students on the application process, writing personal essays, and financial aid options. Once students have finalized their college plans, Saint Xavier will offer information sessions to help prepare students and parents for the transition to college life.

    MPHS teachers will also benefit from this partnership. SXU will provide professional develop opportunities covering the most recent advances in teacher practices, assistance with the shift to wall-to-wall IB format, and specific subject area focuses.

    Finally, the partnership will facilitate an expanded student teaching relationship between the two schools. SXU student teachers will fulfill both their observation and student teaching requirements at Morgan Park High School. This relationship will establish a pipeline of young IB certified teachers with CPS experience to fill the ongoing need for great instructors.

    I have worked with leadership from Saint Xavier University, Chicago Public Schools, and Morgan Park High School on this project for over two years. SXU’s involvement will greatly benefit both the students and faculty at Morgan Park High School and have a significant impact for years to come. None of these programs would be possible without strong support from both school’s administrations.

    I’d like to offer my thanks to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Saint Xavier President Christine Wiseman, Provost Paul DeVito, CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd Bennett, and Morgan Park High School Principal Dr. Carolyn Epps. Together, their shared vision helped bring this plan to fruition. Moving forward, I will continue my work with MPHS and keep you updated on our progress.


    Matthew J. O’Shea
    Alderman, 19th Ward

  • 38. MATH SUMMER PROGRAM RECOMMENDATIONS?  |  June 17, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Do you have a recommendation for a math summer program? I have an incoming 2nd grader and am looking for a program.

What do you think?

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