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;

Peterman said.

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.