To Struggle is Good!

Struggle is Good!   I Want to Fly!

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.

As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.

We want to provide others with stronger wings…

PIE presents Greg Tang at CMC!

Passion In Education is proud to present Greg Tang at this year’s Central Section of the California Mathematics Council at California State University at California State University Stanislaus in Turlock, California on March 13th/14th – Pi DAY!

Greg Tang is a best selling author and speaker.

Don’t miss out!

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Don’t miss CMC-Central in Stanislaus

2015 Theme:  Communicating Mathematically
Friday, March 13th, Cathy Carroll, Research Associate with WestEd, will present a session for administrators and lead teachers.
Saturday, March 14th – PI Day!!! – Author Greg Tang (
gregtangmath.comwill open and close the day, with grade span teacher-to-teacher break-outs during the day.

Don’t be left out!  Grab your administrator and join us at CSU Stanislaus for an energizing two day symposium around communication. (Go to or see attached flyer for more information.)

We sincerely hope to see you there!
Your Central Section Board and CCSS Symposium Planning Committee

Lori M. Hamada
President, CMC Central

Calculators in the Classroom?

Calculators in the classroom is a constant debate.  However, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, aka PARCC, had created their own Policy.


PARCC Calculator Policy for
Calculator Sections of the Mathematics Assessments – Originally Released July 2012, Updated October 2014*

Allowable Calculators:

  • Grades 3-5: No calculators allowed, except for students with an approved calculator accommodation (see below)
  • Grades 6-7: Four-function with square root and percentage functions
  • Grade 8: Scientific calculators
  • High school: Graphing calculators (with functionalities consistent with TI -84 or similar models)Additionally, schools must adhere to the following additional guidance regarding calculators:
  • No calculators with Computer Algebra System (CAS) features are allowed.
  • No tablet, laptop (or PDA), or phone-based calculators are allowed during PARCC assessments.
  • Students are not allowed to share calculators within a testing session.
  •  Test administrators must confirm that memory on all calculators has been cleared before and after the testing sessions.
  • Calculators with “QWERTY” keyboards are not permitted.
  • If schools or districts permit students to bring their own hand-held calculators for PARCC assessment purposes, test administrators must confirm that the calculators meet PARCC requirements as defined above.Calculator Accommodations:For students who meet the guidelines in the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual for a calculation device, this accommodation allows a calculation device to be used on non- calculator section of any PARCC mathematics assessment. Four-function with square root and percentage functions are allowable for grades 3-5. Please refer to the allowable calculator list for other grade levels.If a student needs a calculator as part of an accommodation in the non-calculator section, the student will need a hand-held calculator because an online calculator will not be available. If a student needs a specific calculator (e.g., large key, talking), the student can also bring his or her own, provided it is specified in his or her approved IEP or 504 Plan.

    *Calculator specifications were released July 2012. One addition was made July 2014 to allow four function calculators with square root AND percentage functions. Additional guidance on allowable calculators for accommodations for grades was included September 2014. Additional clarification was added to the FAQs October 2014.

Frequently Asked Questions about PARCC’s Calculator Policy:

1. Can students use hand-held calculators for computer-based assessments?

Yes. For 2014-2015, students may use hand-held calculators on computer-based Mathematics PARCC assessments on sections where a calculator is allowable (grades 6 through high school), if they prefer. All hand-held calculators must meet PARCC requirements as defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

It is recommended that schools identify which students prefer to use a hand-held calculator prior to administration to ensure that a sufficient number of calculators is available. Hand-held calculators are required for paper-based testing. Test administrators are responsible for ensuring hand-held calculators meet specifications, including ensuring the memory is cleared before and after administration.

2. Can students use their own calculators on PARCC assessments?

Yes. However, test administrators must confirm that the calculators meet PARCC requirements as defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

3. Can students use calculators on PARCC assessments that are allowable for higher or lower grade level assessments?

No. In order to provide comparability across schools in the consortium, students must only use calculators that are allowable for their grade/course assessment. PARCC assessment items were developed with PARCC’s Calculator Policy in mind. Allowing for the use of a calculator that is designated for a lower or higher grade level assessment may unfairly disadvantage or advantage students and is, therefore, not allowed.

4. If a student takes an Algebra I course where a graphing calculator is used, but the student is taking a grade 8 PARCC assessment where a scientific calculator is used, which calculator should they use?

Calculator usage is assessment specific, regardless of the student’s grade level (e.g., a student who takes the assessment for a specific grade or course must use the calculator required by PARCC’s Calculator Policy for that assessment). In this example, the student should use a scientific calculator, since the student is taking the grade 8 PARCC assessment. A student taking the Algebra I assessment would use the graphing calculator for this assessment regardless of the student’s grade level. Schools should ensure students have ample opportunity to practice with the allowable calculator for their PARCC grade/course assessment.

5. Does my school have to buy new calculators?

Maybe. All schools participating in computer-based PARCC assessments will be provided an online calculator through the computer-based delivery platform. If a student chooses to use a hand-held calculator, he or she may either bring their own calculator or the school may provide the calculator. For paper-based assessments, all students in grades 6 and higher must have a hand-held calculator for the calculator portion of the assessment. Either schools must ensure they have a sufficient number of the appropriate calculators available or allow students to bring their own. All calculators must meet PARCC requirements defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

Teachers need to make sure students know how to utilize calculators  for their success not for the test but for future classes and their careers.

Following are photos from Miss Watson’s 7th-grade class in Peoria, Illinois.  You can see that students are grouped or partnered, utilizing hands-on learning and graphing calculators.  Students are engaged, utilizing math vocabulary and higher-level thinking skills in order to encompass their learning.  Students are taking responsibility to fill learning gaps by learning from others.  Teacher is the coach and not the center of learning.  Changing to project-based learning in cooperative learning style using manipulative and calculators with the teacher as a resource will change the learning environment to productive experience for all involved.  ~Sandy


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Engineer Your Future!

How exciting is Project-Based Learning?   Check out what my friend, Andrea Fernandes, and her group created for Mission Oak High School in Tulare, California.  I have watched Andrea since ground floor implement this into her high school.  It’s so exciting to see the progress.  Teachers have such a profound effect on students.  Never Never Never Ever Give up! ~Sandy