07 November 2005

One of these things is just like the others...

I sometimes miss my days of watching Sesame Street. Things were pretty simple. It was easy to identify which "one of these things is not like the others."

Why am I thinking about more halcyon days? Well, I sat down to spend some time with the elementary science standards today. Perhaps this seems like a long overdue task for someone who's the "science specialist," but I'm not officially assigned to those grade levels...yet. Anyway, as I sat there to read through things this afternoon, here are some of the discoveries I made:

  • Grade 4: Identify and describe the state of water as solid, liquid, or gas in different situations.
  • Grade 2: Illustrate and tell about the properties of water as a solid and liquid.

Hmmm....a bit of difference...but not a whole lot. What about...

  • Kindergarten: Identify observable characteristics of living organisms (e.g. spiders have eight legs, birds have feathers, plants have roots, stems, leaves, seeds, flowers).
  • Grade 2: Observe and describe characteristics of living organisms (e.g. spiders have eight legs, birds have feathers, plants have roots, stems, leaves, seeds, flowers).

Is it just me, or wouldn't you think that "observe" would come before "identify"? Beyond that, how is a Grade 2 teacher supposed to clearly distinguish between what his/her kids can do vs. a kindergartner?

There are other items of interest contained within the standards. What on earth am I supposed to do with these?

I did have one giggle, though. There is a kindergarten goal associated with being able to identify, name, and draw external parts of the body. We provide incoming kindergartners with the outline of a dog and various parts to choose from and place appropriately on the dog. You'd be amazed where many 5-year olds put the elephant trunk. Ahem.

Rob, who's a longtime fan of this blog, left this comment yesterday: "The silly thing about this is that you're having to do it at all. Since every Science Goddess in every district is going to need similar tools, why haven't the people who developed the standards provided the tools to teach the standards? Who better than the developers of the standards to identify the 'Big Ideas' which they contain. I know, I know, I'm dreaming..."

I wish I knew. In the midst of my preparations to commit Hari-Kari over the elementary standards this afternoon, the reading specialist pointed out that the people at the state level don't seem to have a clue. It gives you a similar sense of disillusionment as when you found out that your parents didn't know it all. Aren't the people leading the state supposed to be more clued in?

So, I'll putter along with all of this and we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I have to revisit my Sesame Street so that I can perhaps better figure out which of the standards is "totally different."

1 comment:

Rob said...

Rob's Universal Law of Cluelessness:

"The further removed an entity is from a problem, the less able it is to solve it."

Thus the principal of a school is slightly less able to solve classroom problems than the teacher. The district is even less able and the state is far from able. The federal government is so far away they don't even have a good read on what the problem is in the first place.

Note, too, that the "distance" from the problem includes conceptual distance (ie, if you don't understand the underlying concepts of a problem, you're very distant from it indeed) and motovational distance (ie, if you don't care one way or the other, you are distant from the problem).

Lots of things obey this rule, but few things better than schools.

Thanks, by the way, for taking the typos out when quoting me :)