When I indicated I was having trouble sleeping, someone suggested telling myself a story. This doesn’t work for me, because my head is already filled with stories that I want to let out, i.e., blog about. But I have not the time to do this. And while there are a few reasons for my busyness, none of them has more of an impact than my daughter’s homework. It takes us, and I do mean US, an AVERAGE of 90 minutes per night.
So if I’m spending an hour and a half doing THAT, by the time I’ve washed the dishes and done other chores, it’s 10 p.m. Should I write or should I go to bed? If I write, I may get overtired; if I go to bed, the mind continues to write narratives that I can’t offload.
I’m writing this because I can churn it relatively quickly, but when do I write my feelings about FantaCon or the musical Ghost, both of which took place LAST month? Or the ABC Wednesday pieces that I USED to write three or four weeks ahead, but I only have the immediate next one written? Important anniversaries coming up, and remain unaddressed.
And much of the homework involves math problems from the so-called Core Curriculum, or Common Core that I think are quite challenging for a fourth-grader, especially since New York has deigned to start on the process BEFORE it really trained its teachers in the methodology.
You have questions asking about the number of footballs, when it’s told you about the total number of balls, and the number of baseballs, and that the number of basketballs is a certain number less than the number of baseballs. The process means one needs to subtract to get the number of basketballs, then add them to the number of baseballs, then subtract that sum from the total number of balls. And these are four- and five-digit numbers.
This is NOT her father’s fourth-grade math, and not only do I love the subject, but I am also good at it; she, conversely, is learning to HATE it.
Then one gets a question such as this one:
“In the 2010 New York City Marathon, 42,429 people finished the race and received a medal. Before the race, the medals had to be ordered. If you were the person in charge of ordering the medals and estimated how many to order by rounding, would you have ordered enough medals? Explain your thinking.”
I discovered, after talking with two colleagues, and after a couple of hours, that the second sentence is the source of the utter confusion, and by excising it, then what is being sought in the question becomes clear.
If one rounds 42,429 to the nearest 10, it’s 42,430 and you have enough medals.
If one rounds 42,429 to the nearest 100 or 1,000 or 10,000, it’d be 42,400 or 42,000 or 40,000, respectively, and it would be an insufficient number of medals.
This is not the only bad question, only the most egregious one. It’s become a challenge to motivate her to do the stuff that has actual value when it’s so heavily laden with rubbish.
Attacking these questions is perceived as not wanting to “challenge” or “enrich” the students. I think the IDEA is fine; it’s the EXECUTION that I think is faulty.