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State Teachers Prepare for New Common Core Changes

By Evelina Burnett | Published 22 Jul 2013 08:39pm | comments

Most Mississippi school districts are fully implementing common core standards this school year, which begins next month. A group of coast teachers who went back to the classroom this summer to learn ways to incorporate the new standards into their daily lessons.

Teachers in this Ocean Springs High School classroom are discussing Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” They’ve been asked to choose a word from the short story that captures the essence of the work, and then illustrate the literal, inferential and thematic meaning of the word, and by extension, the story.  

Julie Stephenson is an English teacher trainer for the National Math and Science Initiative, which recently held training for about 90 middle and high school English, math and science teachers on the Coast. 

"The selection part of it and the creation part of it is what makes it fun for students, that they have autonomy with it, not everyone will have the same answer which is a huge part of Common Core English,is that we are not just looking for an agreement of what a poem means, it's how are you developing your own understanding of what a text means," says Stevenson.        

Long Beach High School English teacher Darlene Cormier has taught for 16 years. She says the intensive four-day training session has taught her strategies for taking a whole new approach to teaching literature.  

"Connecting it with Common Core but really looking at the text much differently, I think a lot of times when we teach literature and teach informational text we end up just looking at the surface and now I feel like we're actually digging intot he writers craft and what the writer has done and I think it's going to be much better for my students this time because I think they're going to understand it better," explains Cormier.   

First-year Biloxi High School teacher Lucy Thompson says the new common core standards are less rules-based and instead focus on real-world skills: reading well, writing well, speaking well, and listening well.  

"Because those are all things that you're going to need no matter where you go. If you go into a job interview, you're going to need to be able to speak well to be impressive, you're going to need to be able to read whatever sort of manual they give you, and understand it, and ask questions if you need to," says Thomas.       

Students will begin to be tested under the new standards at the end of the next school year, in the spring of 2015. 




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