Tag Archives: Common Core

NYS History, The Common Core, And Social Studies


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)The Common Core continues to be in the news, so recently I attended “Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core 2: Inquiry-based Learning Access across the Disciplines” held August 12-13 at the Office of Education in Albany.

One session included 10 breakout groups by geographic area. In the Mid-Hudson discussion group there were about 13 people, double that number in New York City including 10 people from the Queens Library who were not on the attendance list, and over 60 people at the Capital Region group. Some of the other regions were even less attended than the Mid-Hudson group. Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne: New York History And Education


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)How, and how much, should New York’s young people learn about the history of their own state and community?

The answer to the question of what young people learn about history comes down mostly to what they learn in school social studies classes. New York revised its social studies curriculum from 2012 to 2014 and you can review the results, adopted by the Regents last April online. There is more New York history at the 4th grade level than in the older standards, but almost nothing about local history. Continue reading

Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core Event


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)The NYS Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education’s second Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core conference will be held in Albany on Tuesday, August 12, and Wednesday, August 13, 2014.

Proposals for an interactive lab in one of six curriculum areas are invited: The Arts, English Language Arts, Math, Science, Language other than English (LOTE), or Social Studies. Lessons or curriculum used during the lab must be aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards and must demonstrate inquiry through the use of primary sources and/or other cultural resources, such as historic objects, multimedia objects, maps, works of art, or natural resources such as plants, soil or rocks. Continue reading

Notes On A High School Local History Conference


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SchoolThe high school local history conference is something I recommend every county should do. For the past two years, Rockland County has held such a conference. I attended both conferences and spoke briefly at the first one. This post is dedicated to some of the lessons I learned from the conference.

First, the Historical Society of Rockland County and the County Historian are to be congratulated for organizing the conference and for the people who did attend. The list includes the County Executive, the County Clerk, the County District Attorney, the County Legislative Chair, along with various town supervisors and municipal historians. One never knows where one will find history. For example the District Attorney, who in this case followed in his father’s footsteps, may have tales to tell about prosecutions which became part of the fabric of county history. Certainly the presence of these officials delivered a powerful message in support of local history. Continue reading

Common Core: New York History in New York Schools


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SchoolShould New York students learn about the history of their own state in New York schools?

The question has not been resolved. The State Education Department has been seeking reactions to the latest draft of the New York State Common Core K-12 Social Studies Framework.

The current social studies curriculum dates from the 1990’s. A draft revision completed in 2012 was discussed a number of times in this New York State History Blog over the past couple of years. Continue reading

Conference: Uncommon Approaches to Common Core


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Commoon Core Conf_logoHow can educators meaningfully incorporate the wealth of local and regional cultural resources into our Common Core-based curricula?

The South Central New York State Regional Library Council is hosting a conference that hopes to  provide opportunities for public school teachers, librarians, administrators, local and regional museums, art centers, historic sites, and other cultural institutions to get to know and interact with each other over Common Core.  The keynote will be presented by Kate Gerson, Senior Fellow for Common Core and Educator Engagement for the NY State Department of Education. Continue reading

Should We Still Teach Cursive Handwriting?


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01679vAn ad like the one in the January 21, 1869 issue of the Malone Palladium which announced the opening of a new writing school in Malone, NY, was not uncommon during the post-Civil War era.

According to the ad, Professor T.M. Tobin, a former teacher at the Vermont Business College in Burlington, was offering to teach “ladies and gentlemen the Spencerian system of penmanship.”

Students were expected to provide their own foolscap paper, “good” ink, and pens. Tobin’s ad stated that specimens of his penmanship could be seen at the post office and that he would award a gold pen to the student who showed the most improvement. His fee for twelve lessons in today’s money was about $35.00, payable in advance. Continue reading

Putting the Brakes on the Common Core


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Common CoreWhat follows is a guest post by Gordon Bonnet, author of the blog Skeptophilia.

If you want to get a near-violent response from 98% of current public school students, about 75% of teachers, and unknown (but probably large) percentage of parents, administrators, and various other folks associated with education, all you have to do is utter two words:  Common Core.

It’s a funny thing, really.  On the surface, it seems like such a good idea — creating a set of uniform standards, high ones, that establish what students at every level should know and should be able to do.  Of course, there’s the immediate knee-jerk reaction from both the Right and the Left — Right-Wingers resent the intrusion by the federal government into what rightfully should be state or local decision-making, and Left-Wingers hate the infringement that the new mandates will have on the freedom of teachers to teach as they see fit and as their students might need. Continue reading

History Education and Teaching Social Studies


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SchoolTeaching is in the news. Especially the apparent lack of it. The initial test results under the Common Core standards are abysmal and they are wreaking its havoc in the school systems of America. The Common Core now being implemented may not be garner the same attention as Obamacare, but it has generated considerable vociferous and intense condemnation, including calls to cease and desist here in New York. John King, the Commissioner of Education in NYS, cancelled his original statewide tour of public forums when the first one spun out of control, although he has begun a new round.

The new social studies curriculum is scheduled for 2015, the first update since 1996. That curriculum is sure to be a topic of discussion at the annual conference of the New York State Council of Social Studies in Albany in March.  The theme of the conference is “Linking Communities Together: Academic, Civic and Cultural.” Continue reading

Place-Based Learning And Common Core Summer Institute


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Arnold WiltzAshokanDam1930CompressedEducators throughout the Hudson Valley are being invited to discover new and innovative ways to incorporate the region’s special places into their curriculum at Teaching the Hudson Valley’s 2013 institute, Place-Based Learning & Common Core. Registration is now open. The program will be held July 30-August 1 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

In a variety of workshops, field experiences, and talks, the institute will explore whether place-based learning techniques can help educators meet the demands of Common Core while continuing to focus on kids. Sessions will be led by local experts from throughout the Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Olivia Twine: Suffrage and Global Citizenship


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suffrage wagonThe sturdy wooden wagon on display in the New York State capital last summer was the centerpiece of an exhibit called “From Seneca Falls to the Supreme Court; New York’s Women Leading the Way.” Unheard of in 1776 and unsecured until 1920, the women’s vote has become critical to candidates’ success.

The suffrage movement of the early 20th century evokes the stamina and discernment needed to address the overwhelming values crisis that’s challenging the American spirit now. Continue reading

Community Narratives: The Importance of Story-Telling


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Cheers historic Bar ShotWe are a story-telling species. Storytellers need an audience. Storytellers and the audience need a place to meet. The venue may vary, the technology may change, the message evolves, but somehow, in some way, we will tell stories. They define who we are as individuals and as members of something larger than ourselves, a family, a community, a county, a state, a country, or a religion.

How exactly would we celebrate Easter or Passover without a story to tell? Would we even celebrate them if there were no story?  With these thoughts in mind, I would like to turn to some examples of the importance of storytelling and community which I have noticed. Continue reading

Should We Teach NY State and Local History?


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If you have an opinion on whether or not New York State and local history should be taught in our public schools, now is the time to speak up.

As noted on September 17 here at the online news magazine New York History, the State Education Department has released a draft version of the “New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework” for review and comment until October 11 [online]. There is a link there for people to submit comments. After revision, the document will go to the Board of Regents for adoption as state education policy. Continue reading

Social Studies Curriculum: A Modest Proposal II


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Regular readers of my posts know that the role of civics was an important point of contention raised at the recent annual conference of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. Such readers also know I have consistently advocated on behalf of local history both for the pedagogy of teaching critical skills beginning with one’s own backyard to the civic benefit of developing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of community. Those concerns affect not only an individual’s sense of identity with the immediate area where one lives but also with the country as a whole where one is a citizen. Continue reading

Teaching NY Social Studies: A Modest Proposal


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What do we need to do so when we pass the torch to next generation it is ready to grab it? With the upcoming vote by the New York State Regents on the social studies requirements for a high school diploma and the ongoing issue of the Common Core Curriculum with its lack of citizenship as a goal and probable minimizing of local history, I thought I would take this opportunity to issue my own modest proposal on what should be done. Continue reading

Late-Breaking: Failed Tests and the NYS Regents


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The New York State Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, in Albany. The meeting overlaps with the Museumwise/MANY conference in Albany which I will be attending and the Public Historians meeting in Long Island which I will not be able to attend since I already had registered for the Albany meeting. Communication and planning among the various groups leaves a lot to be desired. Continue reading