Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


Commentaries

All That Minnesota Kindergartners Need to Know

Posted: 2003-04-15

This commentary raises question of what we want for our kindergartners.


Looking at the proposed The Minnesota Academic Standards for kindergarten, the reader can see warring ideologies at work: Participate in creative dramatics is very different in approach from Match most consonant and short vowel sounds to appropriate letters, say the common sounds of most letters, to cite just two examples. Another battle is ongoing over grade designation. Those who want less specificity, saying students must learn the skills during K-2 years, seem barely to have the upper hand--for the moment.

I hope Minnesota insiders will explain the absence of writing strategy standards. Since kids can write before they can read, this is baffling. I'd never be one to call for more standards, but would just point out that the writing standards are particularly loony.

I've always been bemused by "the student will" statements. Maybe it's because I taught 7th graders for so many years--and 3rd graders too. On the best day, I knew the only thing I could say way, "The student might."

The Minnesota kindergartner can feel lucky he isn't in Texas, where kids have to go to after-school tutoring sessions if they can't write numbers from 1 to 100.

I post the draft Minnesota kindergarten standards below not because they come close to matching the atrocities I document in my book What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten but because they are in the news and there's plenty here to infuriate standards-lovers of all persuasions. Besides that, I want to use them to introduce some other kindergarten precepts made wildly popular fifteen years ago. These are precepts worth repeating. (You can read the first chapter of my book for free on Amazon. Click through to their site by going to "books" on this site.)

In All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum offered a credo for education that caught the imagination of the nation. He was able to sum up kindergaten with a lot more verve than the Standardistos--and with a much greater vision of what's important


Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned - the biggest
word of all - LOOK.
All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten Robert Fulghum (Villard 1988)

Of course, unlike Standarditos, Fulghum doesn't posit "Compete with thy neighbor" as the 11th great commandmet.

Read his list, and then take a look at Minnesota's, remembering all the time that Minnesota's list is still one of the more benign in the nation. They've lost ground to the skills fanatics but are still holding on to some important principles. Read Fulghum and write a Standardisto, demanding that he flush a lot--and clean up his own mess.

KINDERGARTEN

The grade level designations in the K-2 Minnesota Academic Standards are strongly recommended. However, school districts may place the K-2 standards at grade levels that accommodate their particular curriculum, provided that all standards have been mastered by the end of grade 2.

I. READING AND LITERATURE

Students will listen to and understand grade-appropriate English language text.

A.Word Recognition, Analysis, and Fluency
Standard: The student will demonstrate phonemic awareness and the knowledge of sound-symbol relationships.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Follow from left to right and top to bottom.

2. Work with the 45 sounds (phonemes) of the English language.

3. Match most consonant and short vowel sounds to appropriate letters, say the common sounds of most letters, and begin to write consonant-vowel-consonant words to demonstrate an understanding of the alphabetic principle: seeing, hearing, saying and writing.

4. Identify and name uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

5. Identify beginning consonant sounds in single-syllable words.

6. Identify ending sounds of words.

7. Identify, produce and say rhyming words in response to an oral prompt.

8. Segment and blend onsets (the sound of the letters before the first vowel) and rimes (the sound of the remaining part of the word) and segment sounds (phonemes) in two-sound words.

9. Identify 10 high-frequency words.

10. Track each word in a sentence when listening to text.

B. Vocabulary Expansion
Standard: The student will use a variety of strategies to develop vocabulary.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Use words to describe and name people, places, and things.

2. Use words to describe location, size, color, shape and direction.

3. Use words to describe actions.

4. Use context to predict meaning.

C. Comprehension
Standard: The student will listen to and understand the meaning of text.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Relate texts to prior knowledge and experiences.

2. Make predictions from illustrations.

3. Demonstrate literal comprehension by asking and answering questions about narrative and informational text.

4. Write or draw a response that shows comprehension of a story that has been read to him/her aloud.

D. Literature
Standard: The student will respond to and appreciate a variety of texts.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Listen to and understand the meaning of texts representing a variety of genres (such as poetry, folk tales, drama, fantasy, realistic fiction, informational and biography) from America and other cultures.

2. Identify main characters and setting.

3. Listen to and look at literature for personal enjoyment.

4. Retell familiar stories using beginning, middle and end.

5. Respond to literature using details from the story to support personal reaction.

E. Media Literacy
(No standards included under this heading).

II. WRITING
The student will write to communicate.

A. Types of Writing
(No standards included under this heading.)

B. Writing Strategies
(No standards included under this heading.)

C. Spelling, Grammar and Mechanical Usage
Standard: The student will begin to recognize correct spelling and punctuation.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Use a period after sentences when prompted.

2. Spell independently by using knowledge of sounds (pre-phonemic), sounds of the alphabet and knowledge of letter names.

D. Research
(No standards included under this heading.)

E. Handwriting and Word Processing
Standard: The student will form letters and numbers.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Correctly form many of the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet and numbers zero through nine.

2. Write left to right and top to bottom.

3. Print his/her first and last names.

III. SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Standard: The student will communicate effectively through listening and speaking.

The student will demonstrate the ability to:

1. Follow agreed-upon rules for conversation and formal discussions.

2. Follow one?step direction.

3. Develop skills of attending to and understanding the meaning of messages.

4. Communicate needs, feelings and ideas to peers and adults.

5. Recite literature such as poems, rhymes and songs.

6. Respond orally to language patterns in stories and poems.

7. Begin to use voice level appropriate for language situation.

8. Participate in creative dramatics.


FRAMEWORK FOR THE K-12 MATHEMATICS STANDARDS

GRADE LEVEL (Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, etc.)

I. MATHEMATICAL REASONING
The Mathematical Reasoning standards will primarily be assessed
within the context of the standards in the remaining four content strands.
The depth of mathematical reasoning will increase as the skill level in
the four other strands increases.

II. NUMBER SENSE, COMPUTATION, AND OPERATIONS
A. Number Sense
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
B. Computation and Operation
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.

III. PATTERNS, FUNCTIONS, AND ALGEBRA
A. Patterns
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
B. Functions
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
C. Algebra (Algebraic Thinking)
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.

IV. DATA ANALYSIS, STATISTICS, AND PROBABILITY
A. Data
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
B. Statistics
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
C. Probability
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.

V. SPATIAL SENSE, GEOMETRY, AND MEASUREMENT
A. Spatial Sense
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
B. Geometry
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.
C. Measurement
1. Standard statement
2. Standard statement, etc.



KINDERGARTEN

The grade level designations in the K-2 Minnesota Academic Standards are strongly recommended. However, school districts may place the K-2 standards at grade levels that accommodate their particular curriculum, provided that all standards have been mastered by the end of grade 2.

I. MATHEMATICAL REASONING

Note about assessment of this standard: The Mathematical Reasoning standards will primarily be assessed within the context of the standards in the remaining four content strands. The depth of mathematical reasoning will increase as the skill level in the four other strands increases.

1. Create and solve word problems using actions, objects, words, pictures, or numbers.

2. Estimate and check that answers are reasonable.

3. Explain to others how a problem was solved.

II. NUMBER SENSE, COMPUTATION, AND OPERATIONS

A. Number Sense

1. Count forward to 31, backward from 10.

2. Count the number of objects in a set and identify the quantity.

3. Read and write numerals, 0-10.

4. Compare the number of objects in two or more sets.

5. Given a number, identify one more or one less.

B. Computation and Operation

1. Recognize the number of objects up to 6, without counting.

2. Add and subtract whole numbers up to 6, using concrete objects.

III. PATTERNS, FUNCTIONS, AND ALGEBRA

A. Patterns

1. Sort objects in a set by one attribute such as size, shape, color or thickness.

2. Identify an object that does not belong in a set.

3. Recognize, describe, and extend patterns involving up to three elements using objects, pictures, sounds or movements.

B. Functions

(No standards included under this heading.)

C. Algebra (Algebraic Thinking)

(No standards included under this heading.)

IV. DATA ANALYSIS, STATISTICS, AND PROBABILITY

A. Data

1. Represent data about classmates or their surroundings by using objects or pictures.

B. Statistics

(No standards included under this heading.)

C. Probability

(No standards included under this heading.)

V. SPATIAL SENSE, GEOMETRY, AND MEASUREMENT

A. Spatial Sense

1. Locate and describe placement of objects with terms such as: on, inside, outside, above, below, over, under, beside, between, in front of, behind, next to, top, bottom.

B. Geometry

1. Sort two- and three-dimensional shapes according to their geometrical attributes.

C. Measurement

1. Compare and order objects by length, weight, volume, temperature, or size and use appropriate vocabulary such as longer than, holds more, smaller.

2. Know that clocks and calendars are instruments to measure time.

3. Recognize the following coins: penny, nickel, dime and quarter.


More Commentaries


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.