Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Cartoons Get the CCSS Makeover

Sic 'Em Saturday

While the CCSS Machine has been pumping out videos galore, I found an entire CCSS cartoon channel that MacGraw-Hill recently tweeted about. (See the screen shot)

Sorry, you won't find the traditional cartoons on this channel.
Sorry, you won’t find the traditional cartoons on this channel.

Do you remember the fun we had watching Saturday morning cartoons? I know I would race to the TV set and try to beat my brothers to be able to find Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and the rest of the ‘gang’. Something tells me those type of cartoons are long gone. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?

MacGraw-Hill’s You Tube Channel:

Website address:

What you’ll find is an entire list of ‘fun’ cartoons that will introduce key reading/language concepts to children. It’s part of the “Flex Literacy” Reading Program. Flex Literacy’s website can be found at:

Nothing screams 'fun' like 'intervention!
Nothing screams ‘fun’ like ‘intervention!

The First Cartoon:

The very first cartoon McGraw-Hill features deals with ‘teaching’ kids about understanding conceptual words. The short video uses a pair of boys. One is grabbing a soda, the other warns about being careful when opening the can. The key concept clue the warning boy was giving the other boy was ‘It will burst.’ A few seconds later, after the can has, indeed fizzed all over the place, the boy warning states something about didn’t you understand I meant ‘explode’? Not to split hairs here, but if I’m really teaching conceptual words, I don’t need to be using 2 different synonyms until LATER in the process. Use one adjective to describe something. Then, once you fully understand it, ADD others. Also, if you look up the definitions of ‘burst’ and ‘explode’, you can understand why neither was the best choice for the lesson. However, the entire idea of teaching reading digitally is inappropriate. Children need interaction when learning the finesse of language. Remember, this is an introduction to a key reading skill.

Here’s the first cartoon:

What’s interesting is that the lesson on synonyms doesn’t follow the introduction. No, you’ll find that lesson way down the list at number 35. It is even incorrect. It explains that synonyms are different words which mean the same thing. No, that’s not the entire definition of a synonym. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary tells us that synonyms CAN be different words meaning the same thing, BUT it ALSO tells us that the different words can mean related (or similar) things. But the CCSS aligned cartoon left that important concept completely out of the cartoon.

The example? Interchanging ‘big’ for ‘huge’, ‘gigantic’, and ‘mammoth’. Each of the words CAN be a substitute for ‘big’, yet, think about when we were learning words. Each of these words in the ‘big’ family was used NOT as an interchangeable word, but in a series that denoted sizes increasing. When you factor in the missing part of the definition of a ‘synonym’ (see Merriam-Webster’s above), then you COULD interchange ‘big’, ‘huge’, and so on. But guess what? The ‘fun’ teaching cartoon DIDN’T share that!!

The same can be said for ‘tiny,’ or ‘little’; ‘same’ or ‘exact’. There are distinct differences in each of these words that not only shouldn’t be used as a substitute for each other, but should never be used together. It’s either ‘tiny’ or it’s ‘little’ (the definition for ‘tiny’ is that something is smaller than a ‘little’ something)…it’s not ‘tiny little’. It’s either ‘the same’ or ‘it’s exact’, it most definitely cannot be ‘same exact thing’! Look up the definitions!! What we are finding is that sloppy grammar is being taught in our classrooms! This is not a new problem. When you look at the language skills of our ancestors where reading, speaking, and writing capacities were almost 100%, our modern day use of our native tongue is horrid. Common Core is NOT helping turn poor language use around, nor is it teaching the proper use in the proper steps !!

To see video #35 about synonyms:


Back to “FlexLiteracy”:

According to their rhetoric, your struggling reader will be in for an experience that combines the best of digital, collaborative, and teacher-led learning..all so your reader can be college and career ready!, the digital will have not only data mining, but embedded assessments. The collaborative portion will mean project based assignments, which may, or may not, mean group grades. The teacher led portion? Oh, that only comes into play based on what the digital portion reveals. Throughout the entire ‘intervention experience’ you can get all the 21st Century Skills, too! See for yourselves: Here’s an action step you can take while you dig into this site. Count the educratic buzzwords/CCSS doublespeak. Trust me, this site is chock full of them!

The Research:

Oddly enough, on the research page of the website, you’ll see customer reviews before the actual research data. agenda, there, I suppose?! Here’s a principal’s view of how great a CCSS aligned reading intervention program is, “I think in meshing Intervention with the Common Core, it’s that bridge, where they can expand their learning and go into more rigor and depth”. If you want to read the research that’s not being hyped up on the website, Learner-Verification-Brochure-2014-SRA-FLEX-Literacy Again, as an action step, read the document, look for the buzzwords, especially how great the programs ‘decodes’ language. By the way, the authors of this highly researched program? Steeped in the CCSS. Also of note? The fact that the research group was spread across 4 states BUT used less than 200 students! How is this possible that such a small group was the proof needed for impacting thousands of students? See the purposed embedding of the CCSS ELA portions: flex_literacy_ccss

What Else You Can Do:

Since Saturday is the ‘action’ day here on CommonCoreDiva, you’ve already received 2 important things you can begin to dig into and use that knowledge in your states, school districts, and legislative meetings. However, there are other things to do, as well.

Get to the FlexLiteracy Resources:

Since there’s ‘professional development’ involved, find out when the next training session is, see if you can attend, or help host a night for teachers/parents to go over what CCSS alignment is happening. Since your tax dollars fund the purchasing of such programs as FlexLiteracy, express your views! Don’t tolerate sloppy grammar..especially as CCSS teaches it!

Look into the school budgets for how much funding is devoted to CCSS programs like this. You can find line by line budgets (if not, per state law you can request the budget in a Freedom of Information Act letter). Look for IDEA funding, Titles 1, 1A, 1SIG, 1SES, Title 3, Investing in Innovation, Race to the Top grants, and those 21st Century Community Learning Centers. If you aren’t sure how 21st Century Community Learning Centers are not only CCSS aligned, but are funded by is provided by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IV, B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). With the HR5 still viable, this is a huge action step! Use it! (*Note: to see all the articles I’ve published about 21st Century Community Learning Centers, see:

My CCSS Cartoon:

In honor of my childhood cartoon hero, I am leaving you today with an anti CCSS cartoon that expresses my dislike of the remake of our English language.

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