Sacramento Homeschool Math By Hand

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A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!

March 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Homeschool Math Curriculum

Day 80

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math.  Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”  And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.”

Why ambient?  A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.  Today’s post will address the “Reading: Informational Text” segment of the CCSS Language Arts Standards for Grade 1.  There are ten standards, sub-divided into four groups.  The rich story and literature content of the Waldorf Grade 1 curriculum allows the 6-7 year old the freedom to develop capacities that are stunted and neglected with an emphasis on lessons and materials that are overly abstract and developmentally inappropriate.  Sorry, I just cannot wrap my mind around a first grader perusing the New York Times or a pamphlet or brochure for that matter.

I will summarize the standards here in blue rather than listing each separately since they’re a poor match with what might be considered appropriate and effective for Grade 1.    And I will not even attempt to relate them to any Grade 1 material because it’s just too much of a stretch.  Instead, I will attach a link (I now know how!), a wonderfully informative youtube on the stages of child development and how to teach to them appropriately.  The Common Core’s approach is “top-down,” meaning that standards designed to produce college and career ready adults are filtered down (not so much watered down) from Grade 12 through Kindergarten.  “Bottom up” would be a more developmentally appropriate approach: beginning with seed curriculum to produce a healthier (and superior) end product.

The CCSS Language Arts Standards for Reading: Informational Text, Grade 1 are divided into four groups:

1) Key Ideas and Details:
Ask and answer questions about details in a text.
Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

2) Craft and Structure:
Ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases in a text.
Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.
Distinguish between information provided by pictures of other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.

3) Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.
Identify the reasons an author gives to support points in a text.
Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures.

4) Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for Grade 1.

This is a lot of age-inappropriate content, and the fact that the standards are tied to high-stakes testing (i.e., teachers whose students score poorly risk job loss, or students who score poorly risk being retained in a lower grade or being classified as special needs) makes it intolerably stressful for teachers, children, and parents alike.  This is reflected in radically increased lesson prep time and translated into worksheets for both seat work at school and overly time consuming homework.  And as such, it is an inefficient use of teacher/student abilities and resources.

Please watch Donita Brown in an excellent video, a comprehensive overview of just what is and isn’t appropriate for the lower grades.  Note the short and long term effects of the extreme stress children are under with Common Core cramming and testing.


Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal.  More CCSS ELA Standards tomorrow!

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