Parish schools focus on more active learning
Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 22, 2001
Saturday, September 22, 2001
The Natchez Democrat
VIDALIA, La. – Imagine a classroom of students actively involved
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in a lesson and learning what it means to their lives.
Now imagine that same class is in the Concordia Parish School
This type of active learning or &uot;student engagement&uot;
is a goal that the Louisiana public school system has decided
to focus on during the 2001-2002 school year.
&uot;From the time the lesson starts to the time the lesson
ends the student is actively involved in the lesson,&uot; said
Concordia Parish Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman.
The Concordia Parish School Board agreed this month to make
this type of learning its instructional goal for the school year.
Last year, the school board approved several instructional
goals but it decided to simply focus on this one this year.
&uot;We just felt that this one goal would encompass a lot
of the goals that we had in the past,&uot; Peterman said.
Such instruction is already taking place in the school district
but it will now receive greater emphasis.
For example, in a history class it’s important for students
to demonstrate the lesson rather than just the teacher, Peterman
It’s also important to explain why lessons matter to the lives
of young people and their future.
Although you cannot always explain all the reasons &uot;you
can give them an idea …. of things that are related to it,&uot;
By focusing on this goal, administrators hope student engagement
will become a normal part of the teacher’s lessons.
Also last week, the school board accepted a list of recommendations
from the district’s math committee.
Their recommendations included such items as more time drills
of basic facts, more in-service training for teachers, and discouraging
students from using &uot;touch-points&uot; or counting on their
&uot;A lot of kids do that and it takes up a lot of time and
it causes them not to learn their facts,&uot; Peterman said.
Other recommendations included more testing of basic skills,
more individual tutoring and the inclusion of scores on the national
IOWA test as part of a student’s grades.
A committee of teachers and district staff prepared the recommendations
&uot;We believe they made good recommendations,&uot; Peterman
The job for the school district is to see which recommendations
can be implemented — some in the short-term and some further
down the road.
Including IOWA scores in student grades will take much discussion
and not occur in the near future, Peterman said.
Some parishes have already implemented this policy, he said.
&uot;The whole point is to encourage students to try more
on their IOWA test,&uot; Peterman said.
The test is not an accurate reflection of what a student knows
if they do not do their best on the test, he said.