Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: CCSS, Progressives and PBLs

Sic 'Em Saturday

I have a ‘suppose this’ scenario for you…Suppose I wanted to take progressively liberal agenda, add Common Core and come up with something ‘wonderful’? What do you suppose the results may be? You’d get PBL (Project Based Learning). Now PBL has been around awhile, but think, what better way to move my ‘educational agents of change’ than by a combination of the two?



From a CA county School district

The ‘skinny’ on Common Core aligned PBLs:

According to the Buck Institute for Education, which trains the teachers to lead classrooms, they’ve put together a plethora of resources devoted to aligning your PBLs. In fact, they make it sound like the greatest thing ever to be heard of! Here’s just one of the glowing positives they feature on their website, “Project Based Learning is a transformative teaching method for engaging ALL students in meaningful learning and developing the 21st Century competencies of critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, creativity and communication.” Unlike some of the websites I’ve researched, this one does still have resources that are NOT CCSS aligned. However, you really have to read the large and fine print to ensure you are staying clear of them. Buck Institute is certainly NOT the only PBL CCSS aligned group out there. There are plenty of others, too. However, if you watch the video below, listen for the familiar CC buzzwords, notice who they seek advice from or have praise from. Look who’s helping lead their teacher workshops. All these are clues to the progressiveness behind social change.


The hype about CC aligned PBLs:

Well, just looking at the video, you’ll see the business surrounding PBLs is booming, at least for Buck. But what about other facts/figures? It will definitely depend where you look. For example the school district in CA, whose logo is above, where they host CC aligned PBL workshops, some are low priced ($150.00) per person, others were in the thousands of dollars for a group. That’s just one school district. But there are many private companies, non profits, all on the latest bandwagon…PBLs that are aligned. PBLs are heavily used in STEM curricula, classes, lesson plans too. The profits for all those connected corporations is incredible. There are ‘design your own PBL’ resources, there are ‘we’ll do it for you’ resources, the ‘we’ll teach you how’ resources, the ‘career technical PBLs’ (yeah, we know CC is only K-12, right?) each and every one will more than likely have a price tag. Keep in mind, for every PBL the federal government offers, we taxpayers, have funded it.

PBLs, the 'latest, greatest' invention in education?!
PBLs, the latest, greatest “invention” in education?!

Why PBLs aligned to CC shouldn’t get all the hype:
Like many educators, I know there’s too much fuss over them. Honestly, when I first discovered ‘PBLs’, it wasn’t when CCSS came fact ‘PBL’ is a new, catchy name for what, quite frankly, is as old as time..’learning by doing‘. You know, it’s the way kinesthetic learners can tackle their toughest subjects, it’s the way our parents taught us to go to the bathroom, tie our shoes, mow the grass, and on and on. PBLs are hardly as recent invention as they are touted to be. Thousands of public, private educators and  home educators have successful taught AND graduated many students using not only the ‘learning by doing’ method,  but by every other conceivable tried and true method as well. Those of us who have been teaching, know there are many different intelligences, and accordingly, many different ways to teach. This is why we know, one size does NOT fit all, one way to teach does NOT fit all. An artist doesn’t use a single brush to create a masterpiece, a chef doesn’t use one pan to bake everything, a parent shouldn’t treat their children all the same AND a teacher should not be constricted in the classroom!

Labeling it CC aligned PBL isn’t going to ensure its success. I, like so many educators (or all ages, grades and choices), know projects can serve a classroom well, just not a constant diet of them. To help you understand why I believe this AND have see it play out, consider a college professor’s lament.  I recently was listening to a college professor give examples of why PBLs DON’T work. The biggest reasons: students cannot grasp what it is to work independently, to stay on task on their own, to be responsible for their own work, or, to function in an educational setting well. In short, ‘clueless’. His examples were all based on students in the last 2-3 years where high school was the last place they’d been. 

The Progressive component:

When you factor in all the public private partnerships which saddled us with CC, it isn’t hard to look at the overall progression they desire to move us from the American Dream to the global citizen. If you’ve read my blog in the past week, you’ll know I have shared my progressive plans already in motion, especially connected to the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers). Look at the resources with CC, listen to those supporting it, all about ‘the greater good’, the ‘collective effort’ and so on.

Consider using these 3 quotes in your action campaigns!

Professor Yong Zhao, a global thought leader on education, has some refreshing words to say related to America’s 1)‘suicidal quest with Common Core’.(his phrase to describe CC) While he very progressive minded and I do not embrace everything he believes or speaks, I do like that he’s very solid on how rotten CC is.

Below are some words he had in a debate with Marc Tucker (who’s very pro CC):
“…my main point: it is 2) impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault). I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.” Read the rest,

 3)“Stop the Common Core or ready your basement for your college graduates.”
quote by Yong Zhao (renown global education, technology reformer) featured on his blog 07/02/14

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