Assignments will require teacher, parent communication

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The schoolwork students will do this year will be more demanding, educators say.

As many Northeast Mississippi students begin a new school year this week, it will be the first in which the state’s schools are fully under the Common Core State Standards. Those are new guidelines for math and language arts instruction being used by 43 states, plus the District of Columbia. They are designed to require more critical-thinking, analysis and multiple-step problem-solving. In several cases, students will learn information in earlier grades than they did previously.

That means parents may see homework assignments they do not recognize. They might be asking students to use different strategies to break down a reading passage or solve a math problem. How are they to help their children if they don’t understand the question themselves?

The key, said Booneville Superintendent Todd English, will be more communication between schools and parents, especially during this time of transition. Several schools already have been teaching Common Core strategies for a few years, but most will dive deeper this year, the first time that state tests will be based upon them.

“If there is any misunderstanding, the students and teachers are going to have to communicate more than ever,” English said. “It is going to be different, and teachers will tell you they would rather you not do homework than be shown the wrong way to do it. That is where the collaboration has to come in between home and school.”

The shift also will have schools rethinking homework. It generally should be used for practicing what was done in class, rather than presenting new material, said Leigh Mobley, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Tupelo Public School District. She also noted the importance of providing online resources to aid parents.

Students will bring home more reading assignments – especially various articles – and fewer worksheets, said Kathy Mask, chief academic officer for the Lee County School District. It will help for parents to discuss current events with their children, said Leigh Anne Newton, Lee County School District’s student services director and a former English teacher. The new standards will ask students to draw comparisons between what they are studying and real-world events, so the more background knowledge they have, the better, she said.

Teachers will need to allow more time at school for students to work on their assignments, so they can get help if they do not grasp the concepts correctly, English said.

“If we see students just aren’t getting the homework or parents are saying we can’t help them with this, we will call back on homework or do what we need to do,” he said. “That will be a fluid process, which puts responsibility on teachers and collaboration between home and school.”

For parents who struggle with new methods for solving math problems, educators urge patience. Common Core does not dictate one way to solve a math problem, they said, but asks students to try different strategies so they have a better understanding of the concepts.

That means it is OK for the parents to show the method they would use, but that they also should allow the students to try their own approaches.

“Math is math,” Mobley said. “The difference is, we want to encourage students to think and come up with a different way to come up with the answers.”

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

TUPELO – The schoolwork students will do this year will be more demanding, educators say.

As many Northeast Mississippi students begin a new school year this week, it will be the first in which the state’s schools are fully under the Common Core State Standards. Those are new guidelines for math and language arts instruction being used by 43 states, plus the District of Columbia. They are designed to require more critical-thinking, analysis and multiple-step problem-solving. In several cases, students will learn information in earlier grades than they did previously.

That means parents may see homework assignments they do not recognize. They might be asking students to use different strategies to break down a reading passage or solve a math problem. How are they to help their children if they don’t understand the question themselves?

The key, said Booneville Superintendent Todd English, will be more communication between schools and parents, especially during this time of transition. Several schools already have been teaching Common Core strategies for a few years, but most will dive deeper this year, the first time that state tests will be based upon them.

“If there is any misunderstanding, the students and teachers are going to have to communicate more than ever,” English said. “It is going to be different, and teachers will tell you they would rather you not do homework than be shown the wrong way to do it. That is where the collaboration has to come in between home and school.”

The shift also will have schools rethinking homework. It generally should be used for practicing what was done in class, rather than presenting new material, said Leigh Mobley, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Tupelo Public School District. She also noted the importance of providing online resources to aid parents.

Students will bring home more reading assignments – especially various articles – and fewer worksheets, said Kathy Mask, chief academic officer for the Lee County School District. It will help for parents to discuss current events with their children, said Leigh Anne Newton, Lee County School District’s student services director and a former English teacher. The new standards will ask students to draw comparisons between what they are studying and real-world events, so the more background knowledge they have, the better, she said.

Teachers will need to allow more time at school for students to work on their assignments, so they can get help if they do not grasp the concepts correctly, English said.

“If we see students just aren’t getting the homework or parents are saying we can’t help them with this, we will call back on homework or do what we need to do,” he said. “That will be a fluid process, which puts responsibility on teachers and collaboration between home and school.”

For parents who struggle with new methods for solving math problems, educators urge patience. Common Core does not dictate one way to solve a math problem, they said, but asks students to try different strategies so they have a better understanding of the concepts.

That means it is OK for the parents to show the method they would use, but that they also should allow the students to try their own approaches.

“Math is math,” Mobley said. “The difference is, we want to encourage students to think and come up with a different way to come up with the answers.”

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com