April 19, 2008

Reasoning and Writing Cont'd

In the previous past, a commenter asked for an example of a later lesson from Reasoning and Writing. Here is one of the last lessons from Level E and would normally be covered at the end of fourth grade.



The students have been taught a procedure for testing the hypothesis set forth in the passage and writing a two paragraph essay analyzing the hypothesis. It's not surprising that you don't see anything like this coming out ed schools.

17 comments:

Downes said...

Blogger Downes said...

That's a pretty good example. I don't even want to think of how much 'research' writing follows the pattern of reasoning evidenced in this case.

What we want to say, I think, is that in the context of this assignment, we should actually put oil and coke into the hands of students, have them conduct this experiment, and any others they can think of that might be relevant (heh), document the results, and share them online with each other.

I also would want to say this: why do we need some sort of commercial service to provide us with lessons like this? Why can't educators create a free and freely accessible bank to illustrate principles of language and reason?

Finally (and pedantically): the plural of "student" is not spelled "student's".

KDeRosa said...

Nor do I.

The Internet has been with us for over ten years, and you'd be hard pressed to find a decent bank of lessons from educators. I'm wondering why that is so? It's not like there's any fear of competition.

This blog contains a good deal of my non and lightly edited writing containing lots of typos. I will occasionally go back and correct typos if I re-read a post and spot the errors. I notice that I make a lot of similar typos, like substituting possessives for plurals adn writing the wrong homophone, over and over even though I know they are wrong and I easily identify them when I do read the posts. I think it has something to do with not being a good touch typists and not always looking at the screen as I type. Nonetheless, I'm curious what brain malfunction causes the effect.

Stacy in NJ said...

Well, I'm going to steal KDeRosa's thunder and post the answer to this. This question is from lesson 70, a test lesson. It's worth 9 point of a total 25 of the test.

Amy's test is inadequate. It does not rule out the possibility that cola is heavier than oil. To rule out that possibility, Amy could pour the oil into the glass first and then pour the cola in second.

If the oil stayed on the bottem, Amy would know that the liquid you pour in first stays on the bottem. If the oil rose to the top, Amy would know that cola is heavier than oil.

The test allows for some alternative wording but all major logic and sentence construction points must be met to earn the total 9 points.

Dick said...

The folks down in Texas otta take a look at the instructional orientation reflected in "Reasoning and Writing." They're involved in a brouhaha about "grammar" vs "comprehension." (There we go again with that ol "comprehension" phlogiston.)

The link is too long to paste in, but Googling for "Educators, experts seek last word on grammar"
should permit navigation to yesterday's San Antonio Express-News coverage.

It appears that the "grammmar" advocates have the votes on the Board of Education. TX is heading into "textbook adoption" time and so is CA. Important developments.

Side comment: Again, the use of normed-referenced results and relative comparisons do a poor job of communicating what Gering is accomplishing in teaching composition. There are shelf-item protocols for evaluating student writing samples that are applicable and unobtrusive.

Redkudu said...

>>The Internet has been with us for over ten years, and you'd be hard pressed to find a decent bank of lessons from educators. I'm wondering why that is so? It's not like there's any fear of competition.<<

I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to here, but I'm interested. Can you explain or give an example of what you are talking about? What would this look like?

Tracy said...

I also would want to say this: why do we need some sort of commercial service to provide us with lessons like this? Why can't educators create a free and freely accessible bank to illustrate principles of language and reason?

My question for a bank would be how would you field-test and modify the lesson sequence as a whole to get the most effective one? It's a different problem to software testing, where it doesn't matter how many errors a computer produces in the process of debugging open source software as computers don't have minds. In education, if you make a mistake it likely harms a kid, so reducing the amount of error-correction each teacher must do sounds good to me.

Any testers know a good solution to this one?

palisadesk said...

The Internet has been with us for over ten years, and you'd be hard pressed to find a decent bank of lessons from educators. I'm wondering why that is so?

It isn't so. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of teacher-developed sites with lesson plans, resources, even whole curriculum plans and units, out there on the net. Of course quality varies considerably, but there is a surfeit of good material, much free (if you know where to look) and some available by subscription for a small fee. One teacher e-mail group I belong to collects a fee from members in order to pay for the web server where we can store lost of materials, archive messages, and have no advertising. The fee is modest, something like $10/year, and the quality of the materials available is very high. That group is 4-8 Connection at edu-web.net.

Some teacher-developed sites with excellent materials include :

Laura Candler's Teaching Resources

The Teacher's Desk


Of course none of these replace something like Reasoning and Writing. Any teacher, myself included, can come up with a good or great lesson on something. But to design a coherent curriculum, where daily lessons all interact with previous and following ones in such a way as to reliably develop concepts and skills that weave through the year's work, for several levels of performance, is beyond a single teacher's ability (I have had a good go at it, and it was impossible to make all the tracks work together properly and I also lacked the ability to field test, pilot, refine, etc. You need to start at the end and work backwards in curriculum, which is not what you do when you're actually teaching the class).

A good mix is to use some tightly designed curricula, like DI, and some innovative, engaging or otherwise high-interest and appropriate, locally developed learning activities.

KDeRosa said...

Sounds like I was wrong about the availablility of online lesson plans. It does sound like the quality of the plans isn't the best, but that is better than nothing.

I've worked in a few law firms and every one of them has had a firm wide database of every document ever produced by aevery lawyer. If an issue came up, you could be fairly certain that another attorney, often more than one, had already dealt with the issue and you wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. Institutional knowledge.

palisadesk said...

If an issue came up, you could be fairly certain that another attorney, often more than one, had already dealt with the issue and you wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. Institutional knowledge.

Yes, it's one of the quirks of the ed biz that people pride themselves on reinventing the wheel multiple times daily. The amount of wasted time and effort, for a poor to mediocre result, is mind-boggling. Why can't we just get a few validated, "creative" (if you must) ways to teach factoring of equations, or parts of speech, or anything else? Oh no, we have to have teachers write their own lesson plans from scratch every year for every student.

It would be so easy for a district, or a state, to create electronic "banks" of materials, evaluation resources, and much more. Nobody seems to try it. With the need in every school for curricula written at multiple reading levels ("differentiated instruction") you would think that alone would be a motivating factor.

It's beyond stupid. A wonderful side-effect of good curricula like DI is that, with much of the needed content effectively covered and planned, you can add your own "creative" supplementary lessons and explorations in a planned and purposeful way, and the students will have the skills to do what you plan. You can have the best of both worlds.

People would be shocked if they knew how often the teacher is provided with NOTHING AT ALL to teach the content or skills. No books, no paper, no nothing. Until I saw it for myself I wouldn't have believed it either.

Now I have upwards of $20 000 of my own curriculum resources and am all set to teach nearly anything from Grades 2-8. Most elementary teachers spend between $500-$1000 of after-tax income on classroom materials every year. I try to focus on non-consumables but do buy my share of pencils, paper, markers etc.

Catherine Johnson said...

Now I have upwards of $20 000 of my own curriculum resources and am all set to teach nearly anything from Grades 2-8.

I should figure out my own outlay for one typical kid (leaving aside the zillions I've spent on autism stuff over the years).

It's got to be well into the thousands by now.

Allison said...

--a different problem to software testing, where it doesn't matter how many errors a computer produces in the process of debugging open source software as computers don't have minds.

It's not a different problem. An error made by a computer, even in the "debugging" phase can cause the nuclear reactor to insert the rods it shouldn't, for a tank to target the wrong troop unit, etc. I know you meant "but you could do all that in a safe environment, which you can't do with people" but no, you can't. There is no mythical perfect testing universe for software. Software is released into the world after it's supposedly been "debugged" but it's not debugged at all. Far far far from it, because people simply do not cover all of the use cases--they can't, as the systems are too complex.

But you are right, instead of a repository of not-yet-worked-through lessons, you want the ones that have been made as error-free as possible without having had to put them in front of kids.

The best option is to put them in front of adults and start there--take teachers who aren't versed in a subject, and see what it takes to teach them. But that doesn't really get at the k-5 stuff. Luckily, DI did that already.

I guess on real question should be: how did Engelmann debug each script for DI? What was the process, and how was it done to minimize damage to the learner? How can we adapt that process without having the kids in the loop?

Good systems engineers try to rip apart designs, try to find the holes in something, try to actively "misread" to show what assumptions are hidden underneath. Attorneys use an adversarial system as the foundation: other attorneys try to demolish their arguments, find other examples that refute them, exploit weaknesses.

Maybe that's how you start: you try to make a set of teachers who are taught to be adversarial with each other's (and their own) lessons, curricula, etc. If each lesson is then misinterpreted as much as possible, or each hole is exploited, then on an individual level, lessons are improved. Still, does this kind of attitude automatically help build up a bigger picture curriculum?

Of course, suggesting that ed schools do something that's far from their pathos and souls being invested in gifting students with some mythical asset called knowledge is a pipe dream of course.

Tracy said...

It's not a different problem. An error made by a computer, even in the "debugging" phase can cause the nuclear reactor to insert the rods it shouldn't, for a tank to target the wrong troop unit, etc. I know you meant "but you could do all that in a safe environment, which you can't do with people" but no, you can't.

Actually I was not thinking of that, I was thinking of things like getting a bunch of different open source software programmes to work together on a home machine. :) I've never actually worked on such a critical software programme as running a nuclear power station myself, though I was taught the theory at uni.

I take your point though.

adsoofmelk said...

Thanks for the example!!!

I'd like to respond to a commenter's statement above, though. S/He said, "People would be shocked if they knew how often the teacher is provided with NOTHING AT ALL to teach the content or skills. No books, no paper, no nothing. Until I saw it for myself I wouldn't have believed it either."

This is absolutely true. Over the years, I've built up my own "bank" of material, but for the most part, when I was a first-year teacher, the administration said, "Do English," and left it pretty much at that.

Eric said...

Hey Ken (and others)!

What level of rational thinking d'ya 'spose produced this:

"As recent investigations by the Inspector General have shown, the administration of the federally mandated 'Reading First' program narrowed the choice of reading programs eligible for federal funding on non-scientific grounds, forcing many districts to abandon reading programs that were working and replace them with programs of dubious quality. Further, these decisions were sometimes made by individuals who stood to benefit financially from their connections to the approved programs. Some analysts believe that some of these programs under-emphasize the comprehension skills needed for reading in the upper grades and may be implicated in the declines in 8th grade reading scores."

Tracy said...

Eric - check out this earlier post of Ken's on this topic:

http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2008/03/ongoing-reading-first-debacle.html

Eric said...

The students have been taught a procedure for testing the hypothesis ... It's not surprising that you don't see anything like this coming out ed schools.

How do the higher Reasoning and Writing levels compare to LSAT prep?

Sen. Edward Kennedy: [the Bush administration] has put cronyism first and the reading skills of our children last and this report shows the disturbing consequences. Instead of awarding scarce education dollars to reading programs that make a difference for our children, the administration chose to reward its friends instead.

Q: What are the "reading programs that make a difference for our children?" They weren't eligible for Reading First funds? Really?

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