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Q&A #16699

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching mathematics

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From: Loyd

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2006022222:28:38
Subject: Re: Standardized testing

When Virginia adopted the Standards of Learning (SOLs) lots of teachers were disappointed. But for myself, I thought they were a great improvement because lots of teachers were not as well trained as they should be and the standards served as a guide. It takes awhile for one to get acquainted with the language of standards. The standards are often complex when you first read them because they are written in a style that makes it a little difficult to know exactly what they are talking about. If I was a new teacher in Virginia I would go to the Virginia department of education web site and read the Standards and at the same time study some of the released tests. With a little study, you can probably see, for the most part, what they want you to teach. But for most of my teaching experience there were no well documented standards. So, it was almost necessary for one to have a math degree or for the lower grades at least a few hours or a minor in math. My first teacher taught all 8 grades and he was very good with elementary math. But some of the other teachers I have had knew how to add, subtract and divide but not much more. There emphasis was of course on speed adding and speed subtracting etc. Less emphasis on fractions, number theory etc. So, in the long run, standards are worth it to me and what they are trying to teach, matches fairly well what I was taught in college. Since retiring, I have taught adults in GED classes, and children and teenagers from kindergarten to high school in two different training centers. I have, just for drill, downloaded most of the Virginia released tests just to see what they are trying to teach. I think they are well written. But for a new teacher, you don't always have time to prepare before school starts and with your daily load, it is not easy. So, if you can get the time, go to google and find the Virginia web site and look for SOLs; they should give you an idea of what Virginia wants and I can almost certify that is what most schools want. One problem is that a student who started in another state that didn't have standards and enters in Virginia in the fifth grade, he/she may not have the background to keep up with the other kids. Success in VA fifth grade depends on the kindergarten, first, 2nd, 3rd teachers providing the basics. If not, the student will have trouble understanding fifth grade work. So, if you are a fifth grade teacher you my have to do some re-teaching. If you are teaching 4th grade, you should look at fifth grade requirements just to see if your material will prepare them for fifth grade. One thing I noticed when I taught GED adult classes, is that most of them who needed help, never got to the back of the book when they were in school. Much of the material they were poor in is what I call "Back of the Book" such as perimeter, area, volume etc. There teachers never got that far in their books.

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