Friday Decisions: A Furry Friend, Sneak-onomics, and Extra Ice Cream!

Yesterday the Colorado Department of Education released CMAS science and social studies test results. It’s only the second year the test has been given (science to 5th and 8th graders, social studies to 4th and 7th graders), so you can’t read too much into the trend lines.

The bottom line is that scores are up slightly (except for 8th grade science), but overall Colorado students are not on track in these areas. Colorado Public Radio also notes that, as in other tested areas, there is a sizable achievement gap among ethnic groups.

The overall trend of small gains in 3 of the 4 subject areas generally seems to hold locally in places like Denver, Boulder, Loveland, and Grand Junction. (Thanks to Chalkbeat, you can search scores for individual districts and schools.)

But that’s all just prelude to (finally!) Friday fun time.

In some circles, at least, one might expect to see a fair deal of hand-wringing about how to improve student learning in science and social studies. While I have no doubt there is a lot out there to be said about beefing up learning and instruction in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Zoology — my fun focus for today is on the world of social studies.

I wonder how many Colorado elementary schools might turn to my furry friend Curious George to help teach little guys and girls… Economics!?! Yes, you read that correctly. Education Week planted the thought in my little brain this week. While you may be scratching your head now, check out the piece and you may change your mind.

The idea from the Council for Economic Education is cleverly called Sneak-onomics:

Are you an elementary educator who loves children’s literature? Then you will find some interesting and engaging ideas on how to use ideas in children’s literature as hooks for interdisciplinary lessons that infuse economic concepts and decisionmaking. These real-world E-STEM (Economic, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) lessons begin with a problem that originates in children’s literature and jumps out of the pages into real-world decision making.

Ah, using a good story to sneakily help teach kids about “decisionmaking.” Even better if it’s well-informed decision-making, like “Know Before You Go” sign the Jeffco school board recall petitions.

Or maybe other kinds of important decisions, such as: Should I have two scoops of cookies and cream ice cream with a lot of hot fudge and caramel or just some? And, do I keep blogging with my Education Policy Center friends, or do I cut out early to go play Minecraft?

Probably a more relevant example is the one Education Week writer Jessica Brown cites: Curious George and the Pizza Party. A lovable, mischief-making monkey AND endless slices of pepperoni pizza? What could beat that?

Oh, wait. The big people are trying to tell me that economics teaches us what to do with scarce — not infinite — resources. Kind of like the reminder that there is no “magical money tree” government can grow to pour endless dollars into K-12 bureaucracies. Which leads us back to making good policy decisions….

Sneak-onomics, indeed! It’s Friday, and I thought this was supposed to be all fun, not dry and wonkish. Guess I made my decision: Time to play Minecraft, and eat three scoops of ice cream — with extra hot fudge. Have a great weekend, everyone!