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October 2008 "Just for Teachers" Newsletter
Message from DOE Teacher Liaison, Sheila VeatchI 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 http://www.fldoe.org/justforteachers/ anytime to discover information, updates, and special promotions.
FCAT LegislationSenate 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 http://www.fldoe.org/gr/pdf/LegislativeReviewBook.pdf (PDF, 2MB), or the Florida Legislature’s Official Web site, at http://www.leg.state.fl.us.
Department of Education Releases FCAT Science Lessons Learned PublicationThe 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 http://www.fldoe.org/news/2008/2008_09_23.asp.
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. http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1438&itemID=34420
Sparky's 'World Series of Fire Safety' is an additional place to find fun, interactive ways for students to learn about fire safety.