Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

BACK-TO-SCHOOL ISSUE

Florida Standards bringing changes for students, teachers alike

[ CAMERON COTTRILL   |   Times ]

[ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]

During a training session this summer, fifth-grade teacher Tina Colella came to a realization: Her teaching style relied too heavily on lecturing.

"We used to teach procedure," said Colella, a 12-year Pasco County educator. "It was our thinking. This is what you do first. This is what you do second."

It left little room for students to figure out things for themselves.

All that changes this year. Florida's official and complete transition to new academic standards demands it.

Those new expectations, which come along with new tests, call upon children not only to come up with correct answers, but also to demonstrate their thinking.

That means they have to understand the material, not just regurgitate it.

"Now, we guide them," Colella said. "Our job is to teach them the understanding."

All across Florida, teachers have spent hours during their break learning how to make that happen. Districts brought in experts from around the state and country, aiming to help educators unlearn ineffective strategies, and replace them with new methods of instruction and better ways to plan.

The training is part of a gradual move to the Florida Standards, a slightly altered version of the Common Core standards. The phase-in began three years ago, especially in the lower grades.

"We've gotten very far away from rote memorization," said Pam Moore, Pinellas County associate superintendent of teaching and learning.

Repetitive questions, often found on worksheets, likely will be replaced by more complicated "real world" problems that incorporate academic skills. Rather than figuring out the area of 20 different shapes, for instance, classmates might work collaboratively to measure their classroom walls and calculate how much paint they'd need to cover the surfaces.

In reading, teachers will have to stop pre-telling, instead giving students time to review materials, determine the meaning themselves and answer questions using the passages for justification.

Students will need to communicate their reasoning, too, and not just say they "figured it out."

The challenge might not be easy. Students might make mistakes.

Kids and their parents need to accept that it's okay.

"Wrong answers are what you use to teach," said Kyle Ritsema, a sixth-grade math teacher.

Students might make the same error. The teacher can use that situation to ask the class where their thinking veered and determine how to get back on track. Those who got it right might help with the explanation portion or receive more advanced materials to keep progressing.

When the children have moved through that process and feel comfortable in their knowledge, the teacher can introduce a formula to assist in the future.

Teachers must take the time to help parents with the system, just as they are instructing the children, while also learning new approaches themselves, said Lauren Vaughan, a first-grade teacher.

"We went into education because we wanted to educate kids," Colella said. "When we get something new that enhances what we have, we want that."

"Parents come in and say, 'I don't know what to do,' " she said. "A portion of our conferences will be instructing and explaining to the parents."

Of course, all of this takes place in a high-stakes environment, with only a one-year pause on the penalties for missing the mark. That reality only adds to the stress.

Even so, many teachers have expressed excitement for this approach, which the state adopted four years ago.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4614. Follow @jeffsolochek.

Florida Standards bringing changes for students, teachers alike 07/31/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick and Tom podcast: How should Joe Maddon be remembered tonight?

    The Heater

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014 in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast. They discuss the mixed emotions …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014. [Getty Images]
  2. Watch live: President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly

    World

    UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron are expected to take the spotlight at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations — but it's the tough global challenges from the nuclear threat in North Korea and the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims to the …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  3. Police seek suspect in attack on elderly woman in St. Petersburg (w/video)

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police are seeking the public's help in finding a woman they say violently attacked a 69-year-old woman earlier this month.

  4. Photo of the Day for September 19, 2017 - Great Egret with green mating coloration

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Barbara Motter of Weeki Wachee, FL.

  5. 20 local museums are offering free admission or deals Saturday for Free Museum Day

    Visual Arts

    For all the community's support of the arts in the bay area, it's nice to be rewarded with free admission once in a while. And that's exactly what many area museums are offering on Saturday.

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)