Saturday, August 9, 2014

Common Core

A big deal has been made about common core. Florida has adopted them as the standard. I must admit that I knew little about them before I began my teaching job a couple of weeks ago. Teaching biology, here is a listing of my common core benchmarks for the first unit, that is the things my students should be able to do when they pass my course:

 N.1.1: Define a problem based on a specific body of knowledge, for example: biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space science, and do the following: 
1. Pose questions about the natural world, (Articulate the purpose of the investigation and identify the relevant scientific concepts). 
2. Conduct systematic observations, (Write procedures that are clear and replicable. Identify observables and examine relationships between test (independent) variable and outcome (dependent) variable. Employ appropriate methods for accurate and consistent observations; conduct and record measurements at appropriate levels of precision. Follow safety guidelines).
 3. Examine books and other sources of information to see what is already known, 
4. Review what is known in light of empirical evidence, (Examine whether available empirical evidence can be interpreted in terms of existing knowledge and models, and if not, modify or develop new models). 
5. Plan investigations, (Design and evaluate a scientific investigation). 
6. Use tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data (this includes the use of measurement in metric and other systems, and also the generation and interpretation of graphical representations of data, including data tables and graphs), (Collect data or evidence in an organized way. Properly use instruments, equipment, and materials (e.g., scales, probeware, meter sticks, microscopes, computers) including set-up, calibration, technique, maintenance, and storage). 
7. Pose answers, explanations, or descriptions of events, 
 8. Generate explanations that explicate or describe natural phenomena (inferences), 
9. Use appropriate evidence and reasoning to justify these explanations to others, 
10. Communicate results of scientific investigations, and 
11. Evaluate the merits of the explanations produced by others. 

N.1.3: Recognize that the strength or usefulness of a scientific claim is evaluated through scientific argumentation, which depends on critical and logical thinking, and the active consideration of alternative scientific explanations to explain the data presented. 

N.1.4: Identify sources of information and assess their reliability according to the strict standards of scientific investigation. 

N.1.6: Describe how scientific inferences are drawn from scientific observations and provide examples from the content being studied. Collect data/evidence and use tables/graphs to draw conclusions and make inferences based on patterns or trends in the data. 

N.2.1: Identify what is science, what clearly is not science, and what superficially resembles science (but fails to meet the criteria for science). Science is the systematic and organized inquiry that is derived from observations and experimentation that can be verified or tested by further investigation to explain natural phenomena (e.g. Science is testable, pseudo-science is not science seeks falsifications, pseudo-science seeks confirmations.) 

N.2.2: Identify which questions can be answered through science and which questions are outside the boundaries of scientific investigation, such as questions addressed by other ways of knowing, such as art, philosophy, and religion. Identify scientific questions that can be disproved by experimentation/testing. Recognize that pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to strict standards of science 

N.3.1: Explain that a scientific theory is the culmination of many scientific investigations drawing together all the current evidence concerning a substantial range of phenomena; thus, a scientific theory represents the most powerful explanation scientists have to offer. Explain that a scientific theory is a well-tested hypothesis supported by a preponderance of empirical evidence. 

N.3.4: Recognize that theories do not become laws, nor do laws become theories; theories are well supported explanations and laws are well supported descriptions. Recognize that theories do not become laws, theories explain laws. Recognize that not all scientific laws have accompanying explanatory theories. 

L.14.1: Describe the scientific theory of cells (cell theory) and relate the history of its discovery to the process of science. Describe how continuous investigations and/or new scientific information influenced the development of the cell theory. Recognize the contributions of scientists in the development of the cell theory. 

RST.1.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions. 

 RST.1.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text. 

RST.3.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words. 

WHST.1.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. 

WHST.3.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 

I just don't see what the big deal is. These are all things that kids finishing a high school science course should know.

1 comment:

Graybeard said...

I've hardly paid any attention to CC arguments at all, but the ones I've seen never touched on the sciences.

It was all History revisionism: no mention of founding fathers OR Martin Luther King; coverage of WWII without mention of Hitler or Stalin.

I have seen some of the math lessons, though, and I think it would hinder (if not cripple) someone's ability to do actual mathematics. I've seen algorithms that increase the number of steps to solve a problem, but that don't make anything simpler.

I'd be the first one to say that in an era of omnipresent calculators, maybe they shouldn't spend as much time on rote arithmetic, but my approach would be to introduce more advanced concepts at an earlier age. Geometry in elementary school. Calculus in 7th or 8th grade. What they do is add a ton of complexity to the arithmetic and not give anything in return.

But I can also tell you that early on in my engineering career, I realized the guys who were at the top of the social order were the ones who could do arithmetic quickly in their heads or bound a complex problem with nothing but a four function calculator.