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Lori Duffy Foster

... write to think; think to write.

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Tue, 03 Jun 2014
The biggest beef I have with  the newly implemented Common Cores math curriculum in New York State is not with the government. Nor is it with the test creators, the teachers or the administration.
It's with the parents.
I get it.
The language is new, the methods are new, the modules are poorly designed and the test designers desperately need to hire skilled technical writers knowledgeable in math who can develop on-level questions with little or no ambiguity.
Kids are frustrated. Parents are frustrated. Many teachers are going out of their minds.
That's all bad enough.
But then I hear these words expressed in front of those struggling kids:
"Common Cores sucks."
"This is bull."
"If I can't understand it, she's not going to."
"Why bother? They're going to have to get rid of it anyway."
We all want to make our kids feel better. We want them to know they're not alone and that they are not incompetent. But this stuff -- the generic condemnations often peppered with vulgarities -- accomplishes the opposite.
It sends the message that they might as well give up.
It's too hard and they are not smart enough.
It erects a wall between students and their teachers, a convenient and comfortable wall that encourages similar behavior when times are tough. Teachers are deprived of the opportunity to reach these kids and the kids are deprived of an education.
This is all new for us. We don't like that. We can't help our kids as they struggle unless we understand it and there are few opportunities to become educated in the new methods ourselves. It hurts to see a child frustrated and angry by the work and to be unable to help.
For some parents, it's personal. Common Cores is an insult to their own educations. They learned math the old way and they did just fine, so why change it? They become defensive in the wake of new methods, so much so that they can't be objective.
They can't find the good in it.
But there is good in it and there are better ways.
When kids are stuck on particular concepts or terms, use Google. Learn it with them. Make a real effort. Sure, it takes a little longer, but once they know it, they know it. They can build on it and move on. It's all there on Internet and the sense of teamwork is good for parent-child relations.
This was all thrown at teachers. They haven't had time to properly prepare. Modules that should have taken two days require four. They are behind, they are frustrated and they are struggling. Help them and hope that next year will be better.
Put pressure on school districts to provide overview classes for parents and/or free tutoring after school or in the evenings for kids. Make sure your kids know about your efforts so they can see how it's done. If they don't understand something, don't encourage them to give up. Encourage them to pursue it full-force and to discover the learning methods that work best for their needs.
Lobby the right people.
Don't scream at the teacher.
Don't blame the principal.
Don't egg the superintendent's house.
Lobby the state.
Lobby the federal government.
Ask local districts officials what you can do that will be most effective.
Finally, give it a chance.
This isn't evil stuff. There are solid theories behind the Common Cores methods and they make a lot of sense, but I think we all know they could have been implemented much better and with greater care. This is a mess, but don't wash your hands of it and walk away.
It might make parents feel better to engage in screaming matches with the school board, to pull them from final exams, to berate Common Cores, the teachers, the administrators and the curriculum in front of them, but it's a cop our.
Ultimately, our kids suffer.
So don't turn your backs.
Dig in and do your part.
Love, learn, lobby and succeed.
Learn about Common Cores and pick and choose your battles.





Mon, 27 Jan 2014

Sun, 12 Jan 2014





















Quotes

Conscience keeps more people awake than coffee.

--Unknown

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

--Thomas Mann

"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud."

--Emile Zola

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.

--Oliver Wendell Holmes

Writing is not a genteel profession. It's quite nasty and tough and kind of dirty.

--Rosemary Mahoney

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it

--Leo Rosten

About Lori Duffy Foster

I was born and raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, which is the setting of my first novel, Spring Melt. I am sister to seven siblings. I am a graduate of SUNY-Oswego (BA) and of Binghamton University (MA). For 11 years, I wrote about everything--crime, education, politics, the military, running, Native American affairs--for The (Syracuse, N.Y.) Post-Standard. That's where I met my awesome husband, Tom, co-author of Their Darkest Day, an account of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
When I became a mother, I gave up my full-time career to be home with our kids. I have taught college English as an adjunct; worked as a technical writer; freelanced as a writer and editor; and started up my own Web-based business. In my spare time I write novels. My short stories have been published in Aethlon, a journal of sports literature, and in the 2011 Short Story America Anthology.
I am a writer, but I refuse to call myself an author until at least one of those books sees print (at someone else's expense).
I have lived all over the country--in New York State, Florida, Arizona, Ohio and, currently, in northern Pennsylvania.  And my hope is that one of these days, my husband and I will be able to take our kids around the country and throughout the world.