Gates Foundation Funds “Consumer Reports” for Common Core Resources

Oh my goodness! Could we throw some of this money into funding things that are really at issue like students entering kindergarten that don’t know their last names, virtually no planning time, and high drop out rates would be high on my list. I’m all for strong standards but even if ccss met that need, this is ridiculous.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The long arm of the Gates Foundation reaches out to create a rating system for Common Core-aligned materials. Not content to have paid for the writing of the CCSS. the evaluation of the CCSS, the implementation of the CCSS, and the promotion of and advocacy for the CCSS, the foundation wants to take the next step to make sure no one uses anything less than stellar CCSS.

In today:

A ‘CONSUMER REPORTS’ FOR THE COMMON CORE: A new nonprofit funded with $3 million from the Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust launches today with plans to review textbooks and other instructional material for fidelity to the Common Core. will start by bringing in teams of classroom teachers to evaluate K-8 math materials. The curricula will be judged by how well it matches the Common Core and assesses student learning and by whether it offers teachers guidance in…

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Short weeks and lessons to be chopped

Last Sunday night, we had a full two weeks left in the quarter.  Then suddenly we were down to eight days. End of the quarter. Recommendations for next year happen immediately after spring break. mmmm

In this two weeks we need to finish a unit on radicals – which of course includes a test. We need to take an end of quarter cumulative test for which I’d allotted four days of prep and three days of testing. (One of those was to cover vocabulary.) Well, that’s just not going to happen. Can’t cover 10 days of math in eight.

So we finish radicals this week. Next week, I nix the vocab part of the test, and we have three days to prep and two days to test. Not too bad of a compromise and I’ll still have a good strong grade for next course recommendations.

New wine in old wineskins

waterbottle-121The lesson was on parables in general. Matching verses to parable titles of course – how deep. To add that depth, I randomly chose a dozen for closer examination. Well almost randomly – This one was on purpose.  In my several study Bibles, they explained the physical meaning but ignored the spiritual.

I decided to walk into class with this information and only this information. We breezed – not quickly, but fairly easily through the parables and then slammed into this one.

Physical meaning can be easily explained although I had to explain it, they easily got it. They got the old/new cloth, but we are Baptists and the wine skins are a bit outdated for city kids.

What does it mean spiritually? They thought, they winced. They were uncomfortable with not knowing. Some of them had study Bibles that were no more helpful than mine. I showed them mine. “These are no help,” they determined. They thought some more . . .

Is it ok to not understand everything about God’s word at once ore even ever? Well yes. But as teenagers, they don’t want to struggle with material, any material. They want answers and they want them now. They don’t want any mysteries. They don’t want to ponder.

Since then, we’ve revisited this parable and their understanding has increased. Who was Jesus talking to, who was He talking about? The more we study, the more they know about the times, the Pharisees, the wants and desires of the people. They’ve asked better questions. They are getting closer to understanding what Jesus was getting at.

Do you use slideshare?

I use a lot of power points in my classes.

  • They help me be consistent from class to class within the same course.
  • I can easily change them even in the middle of class if need be.
  • I can upload them on to and when a student is absent or “zones out” during class, then they at least have the lecture notes if not what I added. (Of course what I add is very important too, but the basic lecture is a good start.)

Here is my school blog and for examples of how I use slideshare in the day-to-day posts.

Something that has surprised me is the number of people that view some of the powerpoints. I’ve got some with well over 1000 hits. That means other students are looking at them. Every once in a while I get a PM through their system with a thank you. That’s nice.

View mcdirector's profile on slideshare

The problem with a relaxing vacation is . . .

you have to go back to work.

Today was one very long day. AND I did something really stupid before it even began. I tore apart my office/art room. Really stupid because I can’t work in mess. This was inspired by Nick Norelli’s post about Book Counts which I never even got around to commenting on because I started wondering how in the world I’d tell with books scattered here and yon, stuck in cabinets, on shelves, and in various piles in so many rooms on so many floors in the house. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had a full fledge mess on my hands. Oh my. Just where are the tinman and scarecrow when you need more help? So it’s midnight before I have to go back to school and I’m knee-deep in books, beads, paper, material, mathbooks, journals, yarn, souvenirs and even some odd glasses I found at a yard sell that I thought might sell on eBay.

Maybe I can crawl out of bed earlier tomorrow and tidy up a bit. Tomorrow is a workday after all. Never mind that I have an entire quarter of the Life of Christ to plan.


Tomorrow is now today and I do get up early – well early for the first day after vacation, and I find that book sales have come in over night. *sigh* I mean yahoo! Sales are great! But it means the time I was going to spend clearing the office is spent figuring out where I put the padded envelopes and tape . . .

4 p.m. Life of Christ Quarter 3 is planned with a service project. Off to run copies of the syllabus. Thank goodness Algebra is already planned for the unit.

Now for the mundane – seating charts, grade books, lunch duty . . . But wait. I’ve got 1 extra kid. Someone has been duplicated. Somewhere, in some class. Who is it? Where is s/he? Hard to make seating charts and gradebooks with and extra kid floating around now isn’t it.

Maybe after I get the office back to normal, I’ll find him/her behind a book. 😉

I can’t make up my mind!


Life of Christ! I was so looking forward to teaching it and it’s been such a trial. The text from Lifeway (LifeQuest) is just mediocre. The school did not buy the student texts – probably because they also are mediocre, but the teacher text is based on the fact that the kids have them. There are multiple problems with it:

  1. It’s an awful lot like what they get in Sunday School and I’d like to go deeper on the factual side.
  2. There is the textbook issue.
  3. It’s meant for 5 1-hour sessions and we only have 4 30-minute sessions (please don’t get me started on that!).
  4. It’s a survey course. This is fine, but some of these kids are really hungry for some deep learning.

I’ve had to essentially write, make, and then copy everything the students have to use. I’m sure the guys in the copy center hate to see me coming, but 8th graders need something in their hands to help them organize themselves.

So, I’m digging around in the book room one day and I see what looks like a set of Twelve Ordinary Men behind some new office furniture. I climb over there to retrieve one of the copies and I read it. Now this is exciting! A classroom set of something that the kids can hold in their hands. I do some research and there is a study guide I can get. The book is on CD, so I can use that intermittently. This can take third quarter planned appropriately – good meaty material!

Except, when the furniture is put in the office, there are only three books, not the classroom set I was expecting. So I send out emails and find that there is indeed a classroom set. At least two teachers have seen it. One has used it in the past. BUT where is it. I send out another email. I get some of the silliest replies about me looking for men, but nothing tangible about the books.

Heavy sigh.

One day in the midst of all this, I get an email from one of my media center suppliers. For purchases of $35 or more – there is no shipping. I check and yes indeed, they do have Twelve Ordinary Men. And what’s this? They have hardbacks new for $9.95 a book. A classroom set will cost $250. If I throw in the $100 that the PTF has allotted me, then the school only has to fork over, ahhh spend $150. WHAT a bargain! Email sent to principal in a flash.

No response.


Ah, I know, she’s just sent the order through the appropriate channels. Let me check that route.

So, principal passes me in the hall. Appropriate channel asked. Ain’t gonna happen. Money won’t be spent. Now I’m upset. Even if the school spent the whole $250, that’s $3.50 per kid on some good material. As far as I can tell, nothing’s been spent in quite a while.

So, I’m kicking this around with a friend. And she’s got a Piper DVD. I love Piper too. This one is called Blazing Center and is based off of Desiring God. Eight sermons. It’s got a study guide which I’ve now got in my grubby little hands. I could get a could quarter’s worth of lessons off of it too. It’s good stuff. But it’s not exactly directly related to the Life of Christ.

I know – I’m wordy.

My choices:

  1. Stick with the LifeWay teacher material and keep working up material for the kids.
  2. Use what I have of the Twelve Ordinary Men. Which is a DVD with some re-enactments, an unabridged CD, but NO books for the kids. They are only 8th graders.
  3. Use the Blazing Center materials which isn’t related to the curriculum.

It’s taken me all day to write this and I still don’t know what to do. I’ve no clear guidance.