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Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Have The Common Core Bundles Wrought?

In New York City, the Common Core has brought with it bundles - or as the DOE describes them, "aligned tasks embedded in a unit of study." At my school, we are obligated to administer a minimum of two bundles in each major subject. It can take weeks to plow through the bundles with all their attachments (the 6th grade special ed class has been working on the same unit since Martin Luther King Day).  I refer to them as "piles." Why do I have such a low opinion of the tasks designed to "support schools?"

Before Easter vacation, I looked at a hallway bulletin board. It proudly displayed the culminating task for an English assignment. I saw ten essays written by ten different students each of which said the exact same thing. Each essay made the same arguments. Each essay cited the same evidence. Each essay used the same transition words. It was a model of uniformity.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. And then I looked at my own bulletin board. I don’t teach English. I teach another subject which has been similarly “blessed” with piles, I mean bundles. And there bright and bold for all the world to see were ten examples of student work each espousing the same reasoning, the same ideas, the same answers.

I used to take pride in the work I did as a teacher. I worked for hours creating projects for my students that offered multiple ways to demonstrate the learning they were doing. Now I work with pre-made piles that demand uniformity. How do students feel about this one size fits all approach? Do other teachers feel as I do? You know... ashamed.