WYBI: Crystal Clear Common Core

Would You Believe It Wednesday
This company has it 'all'..STEM, CCSS, 21st Century Skills, and more!
This company has it ‘all’..STEM, CCSS, 21st Century Skills, and more!

What could be more frustrating than a parent who has no idea what Common Core resources his or her offspring is being offered in the classrooms. A follower of mine, sent me this tip about “Crystal Springs Books”. To date, the only “Crystal Springs” I knew about was the bottled water. However, the water company is NOT associated with the books. The books are a part of the SDE, Inc. corporation based in New Hampshire.

The “Springs”:

According to the website, the “Crystal Springs Books” has students, teachers, and administration well covered. There are featured authors and even an opportunity for you to become an author with the company!

If you’re a school leader, you have 2 main authors guiding you. Char Forsten and Jim Grant. GoodReads website shows Forsten has written or co-written many books. She’s  widely associated with Singapore Math (which is CCSS aligned now, see: http://www.singaporemath.com/Mathematics_s/1.htm). You can be assured she has classroom experience. One bio I found from Stenhouse Publishers said she was a teaching principal. Forsten’s also well know for ‘differentiation’. Differentiation has been skewed to implement CCSS. When handled properly and without CCSS, it can be a great teaching strategy. However, CCSS spoils everything it is connected to in the classroom. Jim Grant’s experience? If you look at LinkedIN, he’s a former firefighter turned associated with a particular school district turned SDE, Inc. founder. However, on the website for the company he founded, he’s described as a “Nation’s Spokesperson for School Success”.

Grant has also given a particular presentation on ‘Grit’ to the NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals), April 9th, 2014. It was titled “Grit, Mindset, and Determination: The Key to Leading by Influence, Grades 1-8”.  You can access the presentation from NAESP’s site. Oh, be sure to note he’s presenting an upcoming webinar this about mid April 2015. See: http://www.naesp.org/career/webinars (*Note: his 2014 speech is about 3/4 down the page.) To be fair, there are other authors with works for school leaders, but as I said before, these 2 appear to the be most featured. With such strong ties to CCSS, it’s a shame. If you’d like to learn a bit more about NAESP’s CCSS vent, read my fellow anti CCSS warrior, LadyLiberty1885’s article: http://ladyliberty1885.com/2014/07/25/a-principals-key-message-for-parents-on-common-core/

For the teachers, from Crystal Springs, all kinds of topics from 21st Century Learning Skills to management in the classroom. There are teaching guides to align you to the CCSS. Be sure you look at each category and find the authors names. Do a quick internet search to see their background in the classroom and their CCSS ties. To access all the CSB info:
http://www.crystalspringsbooks.com/, be sure to look at the “Topics” menu on the left.

The Parent Company:

As stated above SDE, Inc. is based in New Hampshire. Loaded with all sorts of PD (Professional Development), you can find webinars, announcements of new book series (I especially hated the Stella series for K-2. Why? The titles: “Stella Writes an Opinion”, and other such rubbish.) Look to the right hand side and you’ll see an upcoming webinar for those gifted students and CCSS. That’s on 4/23/15. From the ‘about’ page, the company equips not just American classrooms, but internationally as well. The website page says the company is one of the leading in its industry. Oh, and there’s rigor for teachers, staff, AND students with SDE! As far as education ‘experts’, they have so many of them it resembles a small town’s population! See: http://staffdevelopmentforeducators.com/Education-Experts (*Note: at first glance, I didn’t see any easily identified CCSS supporters.)

Funding for SDE?? Oh, why we, the taxpayers foot a huge portion of that  bill! Leading the charge is the U.S. Dept. of Education!
How and why? Because all of what SDE does is considered PD, it can be written off to the schools, school boards, administrations, etc. See the screen shot below to see the other funding groups! Among the entire list of grants available, private organizations are in this as well. Making the P3 (Public, private partnership) leg of CCSS related activity very much a part of all of this PD as well!

To see the entire list of those granting funds for SDE: http://staffdevelopmentforeducators.com/About-SDE/Funding-Resources
To see the entire list of those granting funds for SDE: http://staffdevelopmentforeducators.com/About-SDE/Funding-Resources

A bit more CCSS connections for you in relationship to Jim Grant and the PD:

He’s presented the “Grit” talk to ASCD (a Gates Funding curriculum/teacher resource organization) back on 3/21/15. (You can see his name appear on the entire speaker list from the entire conference: http://ascd15.mapyourshow.com/6_0/sessions/speaker-alphalist.cfm) (*Note: the ASCD 2015 Conference had a tremendous sponsor list. Most were well known CCSS supporters.)

The SDE blog, “Appleseeds” is article after article about “Grit” by Grant. It’s enough to make you want to swear off grits (the food) forever or grit your teeth to excess. See: http://sde.com/blog/?tag=jim-grant

Be sure to read the SDE’s idea of the ‘extraordinary classroom’ and the 7 ‘Hallmarks’ therein. See: http://sde.com/TheExtraordinaryClassroom/Hallmarks.asp

The last thing I’ll leave you parents and concerned anti CCSS warriors to view from SDE for in the classroom is from the “new and notables” page. Click to enlarge it.



Well, parents, I’m not sure that this look into a few of the things going on in the classroom has helped or not. I do know parents are thirsty for information, a look at the resources, and an opportunity to weigh in. Please, use this as a springboard to discuss with your teachers, school leaders what, if any of the above products or methods, is currently in your schools. I’m always on the lookout to see what in this area I can share. Gone are the days when we the parents, the taxpayers, and the concerned citizens had access to classroom materials. Let me know if there’s a lead, a tip, or a resource you’d like researched.



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