Innovative Common Core teaching?

EngageNY, the propaganda website of the New York State Education Department, has a series of videos promoting “innovative” teaching to the Common Core standards.

The video library is an innovative and differentiated resource that brings the Common Core instructional shifts, teacher and leadership evaluation, and data driven instruction to life.

I was recently sent the following video of a kindergarten class being taught a lesson on counting beyond the number ten.  As a secondary level history teacher I cannot comment on the method of teaching counting 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, but I can recognize when students are not engaged in a lesson.  Even with the small group of students who are in view of the camera, how many have their attention wandering or just plain are bored in this teacher centered lesson?

Is this what Commissioner King and NYSED consider “effective teaching” to the Common Core?

Your thoughts?

Here is the original webpage for the video:

Follow Chris Cerrone on Twitter: @StopTesting15


  1. Michael Dixon says:

    What the hell is the math way (is that aNEW way of counting on)??? I get starting with 10 because of the ten-frame… 5 (half of ten-frame is also a FRIENDLY NUMBER, THUS 10, 15, 16, 17, 18…

    What about the students that understand place value and know that 10+8=18??? You have lost them from boredom… I think this a step down from what we were doing. Is the RIGOR? #weareintrouble

  2. This does seem a bit pavlovian… I think her lack of warmth may have been a performance piece for the video. At least I hope so, a whole day of this would be damaging to students no doubt. Given that we assign her the best intentions, my question is: What’s the innovation here? This seems like a direct instruction moment in a classroom?

  3. Robotic and boring.

  4. Mary Tallon says:

    My stomach turned when I watched this incredibly painful video. I am a kindergarten teacher and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would NEVER inflict that on my little students!!! The teacher had absolutely no personality or warmth. The children were anything BUT engaged! They were bored. The clapping was horrendous!! What are we doing to children?????????? Someone said the clapping was a classroom management technique? Give me a break. It was disgraceful. I am so angered by this video…..

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      This is a mean statement. Mean and wrong.

      The children are engaged.
      There is hills and valleys and one student in the front seems tired.
      But listen.

      Listen to the counting. Are they engaged? Yes. Not only that the engagement picks up as the video increases.

      And watch.
      Are they raising their hands when they should.
      Are they looking at the lesson focus when the camera scans their faces.

      I am just calling you out for not knowing what you write about.
      She compliments the students several times and she is explicit in her praise.
      Please, give us a break.
      And please don’t become an evaluator.
      Thank you. I was angered by your post.

      • I have been an evaluator as a teacher educator and I’d give this teacher an average rating, whatever that means. This call and response nonsense lacks warmth and any scintilla of humanity or enjoyment. If this is exceptional teaching, then I’m underwhelmed.

        • Jeremy Greene says:

          Shaun, again too much focus on personality.
          Not enough on learning.
          Stop focusing on warmth and start focusing on what the kids are learning.
          I’m underwhelmed by your methods of evaluation.
          Again, good teaching is good learning.

          So, if she had been warmer and the learning is the same it is a higher evaluation?
          What if she is even warmer and humane and the students aren’t learning the material?
          Is that rating even higher?
          Does not make sense to me.

          • It is inaccurate to separate academic learning from what students learn from the social interactions around academic content. To suggest warmth or other qualities are irrelevant is a misrepresentation of the broad social functions schools play. How we teach the young is a form of socialization. Some seem fine with humans likened to dogs; others not. That’s not a question of “effective” teaching but a question of values, what we envision as appropriate. To suggest “good learning” is “good teaching” is both to uncritically accept the VAM claim that teachers cause learning and a frank admissions that values and not objective claims about “what works” are operating. Teachers create conditions for learning and the manner in which those conditions are created reflects ideas about what is good and bad living. Privileging math skill over socialization to be kind is a judgment, not a fact of science. It is a vision, and in my view, a dark one. There are probably many ways to increase math skills that would be deemed unethical — that is what is at issue I think.

            Overall, interesting discussion.

          • If this is aspirational teaching, I think we can do better.

          • Jeremy Greene says:

            Mark, I am not sure what you would see as unethical. That would be a strong accusation.

            I would hate to say that neutral affect instead of positive affect is unethical (or was it call and response that was unethical?).

            The socialization math question is a different argument altogether. Not one we were having.
            As stated elsewhere on this site, I am not for the implementation of CCS in K. So, we might be in agreement. I would want math in Kindergarten, not necessarily what is seen here.

            I can’t say that I am against VAM. I would hope teachers could meet agreed upon minimums. I would be guided by John Hattie’s work in this regard.

  5. It’s so easy to judge someone else by a five minute clip. The OP admits to not being a K-6 teacher, yet presumes to know how to teach kindergarten. I teach French/Spanish 7-12 and honestly, you do have to teach like this sometime. Someone suggested they learn to count by counting legos. How do you know they didn’t do that once they had the idea? How do you know they did it correctly? I once counted to 1000 on the bus in 1st grade because I thought 1000 came after 199. And really, what is the point of counting legos anyway? I would love to hear the great ideas from all the critics. Everybody thinks they know how to teach because they grew up watching teachers. Get over yourselves.

    • dbpigtail says:

      I think what has most people upset is that this is KINDERGARTEN, and my point about legos is that kindergarten should be fun and play-focused. Kids at this age learn so much through play. I can tell you that my kindergarten aged son absolutely understands counting (and more) in numerous ways without ever sitting through something dull lessons like this. He would be bored to death doing this. Not only that, he would act out and lose focus, as kids this age tend to do when they’re not engaged, and he would get in trouble, be put on red, have minutes taken away from his recess, or some other ridiculous form of classroom punishment that happens these days–all in the name of “rigor” and formal academic achievement.

    • I think you ignore the cadence of the teacher, which treats students like trained monkeys.

      • Jeremy Greene says:

        When did call and response become a bad way to teach?

        I have to call into question all those that are questioning this. See my trained dogs immediately below for more.

        dbpigtail, you bring in your child to the discussion, BUT THERE ARE CHILDREN in the video and they are not acting out. There are some that are tired and a minority that could be more engaged, but she seems to have them on task and they seem to be learning what she is teaching. This is exactly what we should want in a class.

        • Did you just write, “a minority that could be more engaged?” Interesting.

          • Jeremy Greene says:

            Yes, I wrote that.
            It does not seem to me to be that interesting.
            A minority means less than half. And I would put it lower than that from what I saw and heard.
            Keeping 20 odd 5 year olds engaged is tough.
            Having attended 3 5 year old birthday parties in the last 3 weeks I can speak to this.

    • Stephanie Brady says:

      It is KINDERGARTEN. No, no kindergarten teacher should ever teach like that. Maybe when your conjugating irregular verbs . . . . But not with a little one!!!

  6. Jeremy Greene says:

    My mother said that raising kids was just like training dogs. She did not think dogs and kids were the same.

    She had 8 children. Of the 8, 7 have advanced degrees (I believe all 8 will eventually have advanced degrees, soon as my brother gets does his 20 years in the military.) Habits are important. Ben Franklin knew it, my mother knew it, seems like this teacher knew it. My mother was a math teacher. (Valedictorian of her high school, fwiw) And very much into rote memorization of math facts like this video shows.

    Also, seems like a video one would see from East Asia (and not because several kids are Asian). They seem to do quite well in math tests.

    So perhaps we need better dog trainers. Or more study of dog trainers for teachers?
    Seems to have worked for one family.

    Here is the same teachers in another video: This one is more interesting for the adult viewer.

  7. Monique Dols says:

    Thanks for posting this– here’s my thoughts, as a math teacher: Engage NY math curriculum is a hot mess. It’s very scripted and inflexible and because of it’s alignment with the CCSS has kids dealing with concepts prematurely and in a surface way. The CCSS authors pretend to be interested in depth of knowledge, but because they are pushing skills down so far there is no depth of understanding achieved. So for example, at this point of the year in K, according to the Engage Modules kids are supposed to be learning subtraction within 10. Subtraction requires a kid to have a lot under your belt before you can handle it formally and many 4 and 5 year olds are working on rote counting, accuracy of counting in that range, and a score of other skills an understandings that are necessary before subtraction. Simply put, you can’t start to think about the difference between quantities if you are still internalizing quantity. It makes no sense. That said, the ONE thing that I think this video you linked to does model that we could do more of is fluency work, and I personally love the “math way” of counting because our numbers in the teens to not include language that gives a sense of place value. So I think that is great. But that is the only thing I like. And god helps us if that is what math teaching in Kindergarten is supposed to look like. Ugh.
    -Monique Dols

  8. Tfinnhead says:

    Mushy is right. Crazy-making too. Ponies clicking their hooves to count likewise.

  9. I am very disgusted with the new way of teaching. Watching this video made me feel like the teacher and the students are just robots following a program led by Commissioner King. This is STUPID and as a parent I am so discouraged about how my 1st grader must learn. Why doesn’t Commissioner King just hand out dog whistles to all teachers and train the children what to do by whistle, it’s just like that. SO DISGUSTED WITH THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. “10-1, 10-2, 10-3….” Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      rosie, perhaps you should be looking elsewhere for dumb?
      This is base 10 counting.
      Think about counting 73 dimes. Might you make 8 piles? 7 of 10 and 1 of 3. What you did implicitly this is teaching kids explicitly. It is not dumb at all.

  11. What kind of counting is the math way? Who in this world counts that way? We are teaching children to be idiots and mindless drones with knowledge that doesn’t even make sense.

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      People who think mathematically. Mathematicians…Oh and you if you ever have to count change. For instance if you were to give someone five dollars in dimes you could count the regular way – up to 50. Or a math way of five groups of 10. After the first group – you don’t start counting 11 you count 1 up to 10 and start again.

      It is like reading the historical way. Historians read differently.

      All disciplines have their ways of thinking which are not natural or default ways, but ones that need to be taught.

  12. Yup, this one is pretty revealing.

    I think it’s evidence of the radical behaviorism that is behind the career and college ready regime.

  13. Try watching it without sound.. the expression on the teacher’s face is terrible.. what is she trying to do train dogs? What’s with the clapping? Is that a replacement for Pavlov’s bell?
    The yawning student tells it all..

    This is not teaching..This is terrible.

    • The clapping is just a classroom management tool. It may sound/look silly but when teaching a class full of kids, things like this are useful. I will agree though that watching this was painful. Choral counting is an important skill for young children, especially for those without preschool background or help from parents before they enter school. However, doing this whole group is not the most effective way to do this. Small group choral counting for those that actually NEED it would be more effective. If my daughter was in this class, she would be going stir crazy from boredom because this is something she already knows and doesn’t need practice on. Breaking the class up into centers with work at the appropriate level for each student would be true differentiation. I am a Math Interventionist at my school and use the ten frame daily. However, I have never heard of counting “the math way” or ten-one, ten-two, etc.

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      Why focus on the teaching?
      Focus on the learning.
      This is pretty good. Seems like you have a bunch of kindergarteners that can count above 10.

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      As to the yawning.
      I blame lack of sleep, which seems to be contagious for Americans (by choice):

  14. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…… What a great lesson… to kill students’ natural curiosity and love of learning.

  15. dbpigtail says:

    I agree with the feelings of dog training. Poor kids, they should be learning counting with lego blocks, or Oreo cookies!

  16. This teacher has great classroom management. She has most of the children paying attention which is how they are measuring engagement. She is teaching them how to use the current math curriculum which is good. Teaching mental math which is also goid. However, the boy @ the front desk in the right side of the table could careless about her cues or counting, so there are probably a couple more like that in the class. The other thing that is difficult is that we don’t know exactly how long they did this for. 2 minute practice not bad, 20 min. Torture!

  17. Daniel Swanson says:

    Makes me want to run screaming from the classroom!

  18. Cynthia Pacelli says:

    Shouldn’t children at that age be modeling numbers? Shouldn’t they be matching the actual number to a model so that they can compare? Do they know what the actual numbers look like? Ridiculous


  19. Simon Terrell says:

    First, I got a feeling I was watching a dog trainer and not a kindergarten teacher. I may have missed it, but I didn’t see any smiling or rapport building by the teacher. These guys are in kindergarten after all and I’m sure that they need some sort of connection with their teacher.
    As far as the math, I wouldn’t call it counting the “math way”. That seems nonsensical. I can see that what they are going for is preparing students to decompose numbers, make tens, and then use the leftover to add onto 10 when adding digits that are less than ten but produce a number between 10 and 20.
    It seems inappropriate for building curiosity and joy in the classroom. Your job is to build on curiosity to build a love for learning. If this lesson represents the type of learning that these kids get daily, I imagine that this teacher is building kids who hate school.

  20. Engaged in daydreaming and fidgeting from what I can see. Nothing like mindless repeating and chanting to truly “engage” a child. Mine would have been crawling under the tables out of boredom at that age ;-)

  21. David Cunningham says:

    Gives me a headache.


  1. […] site for materials and resources related to the Regents Reform Agenda,” that was posted by Chris Cerrone at The Chalkface.  It uses a Pavlovian obedience training method on kindergarteners.  Notice their lackluster […]

  2. […] fact, if you are willing to risk depression, watch the video posted here showing a NY teacher drilling disengaged Kindergartners in counting.  And this is presented as a […]

  3. […] is primarily in response to a recent post here by Chris Cerrone on an “innovative teaching” video library. I finally had a moment to watch. Now that […]

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