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October 2008 "Just for Teachers" Newsletter

Message from DOE Teacher Liaison, Sheila Veatch

I am thrilled to be sending you the October Just for Teachers newsletter—my first newsletter as your liaison. After spending 20+ years in the elementary classroom, I know that your time is valuable; my goal, therefore, is to deliver news to you in an accurate, concise, and timely manner. I am here to answer your questions, deliver your messages to policymakers, and provide you with information on programs and legislation that affect Florida educators.

So who am I? I am a third-generation Floridian, a graduate of Florida public schools and state universities (go FSU ‘Noles and USF Bulls), and a certified Florida teacher with teaching experience in Manatee and Leon counties. I have also lived in Papua New Guinea and East Africa where I taught in international schools. My husband teaches science at Florida State University School and our three boys, ages 17, 11, and 8, keep us busy with their school activities and sports. Life is anything but dull! While I often miss my time in the classroom, I consider it a privilege to support you and the work you do with over 2.7 million students.

Thank you for taking the time to read this issue. Please let me know what you think when you have a spare moment. Click on anytime to discover information, updates, and special promotions.


FCAT Legislation

Senate Bill 1908, which became effective July 1, 2008, states that beginning with the 2008-2009 school year, district school boards must prohibit schools from suspending a regular program of curricula to administer practice tests or engage in other test-preparation activities for a statewide assessment such as FCAT. However, certain activities (including instruction on test-taking strategies) are authorized.

What are the “certain activities” that are allowed?

  • Distributing to students the sample test books and answer keys published by the Department of Education
  • Providing individualized instruction in test-taking strategies, content knowledge and skills assessed for a student who scores at Level 1 or Level 2 on a prior statewide assessment
  • Incorporating test-taking exercises and strategies into curricula for intensive reading and mathematics intervention courses
  • Administering a practice test or engaging in other test-preparation activities which are determined necessary to familiarize students with the organization of the assessment, the format of the test items, and the test directions
  • Information in the second bullet refers to providing individualized instruction to students; this allowable activity is not for whole class instruction. The last bullet refers to the administration of practice tests and test-preparation activities to familiarize students with the organization of the assessment, but this cannot be done by suspending regular classroom instruction.

So what does that mean for you as a classroom teacher? With standards-based instruction, Florida schools need not suspend regular classroom instruction to prepare for a standards-based assessment such as FCAT; simply put, make the regular classroom instruction standards-based and your students will be prepared for the assessment.

For a complete look at educational legislation passed during the 2008 session, click on (PDF, 2MB), or the Florida Legislature’s Official Web site, at

Department of Education Releases FCAT Science Lessons Learned Publication

The Florida Department of Education announced the release of FCAT Science Lessons Learned: 2003–2006 Data Analyses and Instructional Implications. The publication provides educators with detailed trend analyses of student performance on FCAT Science in Grades 5, 8, and 11. It includes summaries, observations, and statistical trends that provide a comprehensive study of student performance by grade. For more information, visit

Resources for October Events

National Fire Prevention Week, October 5-11: Lesson Plans & More!

The National Fire Prevention Association and Scholastic have teamed up to offer teachers resources for incorporating lessons on fire prevention into the regular class curriculum. In addition to lesson plans, Scholastic also offers online games and other free materials. The online lesson plans and resources contain printable posters, worksheets, and take home pages.

Sparky's 'World Series of Fire Safety' is an additional place to find fun, interactive ways for students to learn about fire safety.

National School Lunch Week: October 13-17 “Presidential Edition”

Vote for School Lunch is a fun way to get involved in the voting process, especially in the build up to the 2008 presidential election. Vote for School Lunch gives your students the opportunity to pick their favorite school lunch while learning more about the benefits of the healthy meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Vote online at Voting continues through National School Lunch Week. On Friday October 24th the 'President of School Lunch' will be announced.

National School Bus Safety Week: “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead” October 20-24

The National Association for Pupil Transportation has announced this year’s School Bus Safety Week theme “Stop on Red, Kids Ahead.” The Web site contains a downloadable “Resource Guide and Activity Booklet” and additional information from the School Bus Information Council. For more information and to access online resources visit

What is your school doing during October?

The Florida Department of Education is always looking for news about events and success stories. If your school partners with local businesses, hosts a special event, or makes a point to celebrate any of the above events, let us know about it! Feel free to include photo attachments and any information you would like to share with the Department. Who knows? You may just be the next Teachers in the Spotlight/Schools in the Spotlight which is detailed below. Send your story to .

Teachers in the Spotlight/Schools in the Spotlight

One of the things I look forward to most is recognizing exceptional educators and outstanding schools in the Teachers and Schools in the Spotlight section of this newsletter. Do you know a special educator that you would like to see honored? Is there a school in your district that deserves recognition? If so, send an e-mail to . Look for the first segment in the November newsletter.

Opportunities for Students & Teachers

The Arts for Life Scholarship Program for High School Seniors

The Arts for Life Scholarship Program awards $1,000 scholarships to 25 graduating high school seniors in a Florida public, private or home education school setting who demonstrate academic and artistic excellence in the visual arts, dance, music or theatre. Students must complete an application, provide a sample of work and write an essay briefly explaining the influence of art and its role in their future. Each spring, scholarship recipients are recognized at a reception hosted in their honor by founder and former First Lady of Florida, Columba Bush. The next round of scholarships will be awarded in the spring of 2009. The application for these scholarships will be available online on October 1, 2008. Completed applications must be submitted by February 1, 2009. For more information on the Arts for Life Scholarship Program, contact Lisa Kammel Raguso at (850) 345-6284 or . To download an application, visit

Universal Orlando® Resort Offer

Universal Orlando® Resort, in partnership with the Florida Education Foundation, is offering ALL Florida Public School Personnel (Pre-Kindergarten – 12th Grade) an incredible opportunity to experience TWO exciting theme parks…Universal Studios Florida® and Universal’s Islands of Adventure®...FREE! It’s their way of saying “thanks” for all you do! Check the home page of the Florida Education Foundation’s Web site: for information and details. Proceeds of theme park guest ticket sales go to the Florida Education Foundation to support educational initiatives in Florida. Please spread the word to all your co-workers!

Did You Know?

Here are some interesting facts for you “to digest” as we celebrate National School Lunch Week in October:

The National School Lunch Program has been serving the nation’s children for over 60 years. The meals they serve meet standards based on dietary guidelines for Americans, meaning they contain no more than 30% of calories from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat. School lunches provide one-third of the recommended dietary allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories, and are served in age-appropriate serving sizes. In 180 school days, 4.9 billion school lunches are served in 99,000 schools. That's approximately 29.6 million meals per day!

Receiving the “Just for Teachers” Newsletter for the First Time?

Is this the first issue you are receiving? If so, you may have missed out on some valuable resources listed on the Just for Teachers site. To access these money saving offers, instructional resources, scholarship opportunities, and more, visit the “Just for Teachers” Web page.