“That which we want to improve we measure.”

Earlier this afternoon, I was delighted to welcome approximately 75 teachers, district curriculum specialists, and content experts from across the state to the start of a four-day standard-setting meeting for Biology I and Geometry EOC assessments and FCAT 2.0 Science.

Guided by experienced psychometricians, participants will spend their days reviewing statewide content requirements to help define what students should know and be able to do in each of these subject areas. They will identify expectations for teachers, students, and parents.  And they will focus on improving teaching and learning for Florida students that will help them develop the skills necessary to compete in a global society.

Standard-setting is integral to how we measure what we are doing within our education system. Having content experts from around the state who work with their students and their geographic area helps us make decisions that can be consistent statewide.

Next week, we will have a reactor panel that will do exactly as the name suggests. The panel will include people from the community, businesses, and education who will spend two days considering the impact of the recommendations from the content experts and then make their own recommendations. The public will be invited to provide their input at rule workshops across the state and on our department website. Eventually, all of the recommendations go to the State Board of Education for action.

“I hate science!” is no longer heard

Guest post by DOE Science Program Specialist Latasha Fisher

“To be, or not to be.” An often used quote in literary times, but begs the true question – what do you want to be when you grow up? In Florida, students have the opportunity to really engage themselves in the classroom – particularly in courses that will help them shape the future.

The fields of science, technology, engineering and math, commonly referred to as STEM, are really taking shape and will help our state’s economy for years to come. The days of saying, “I hate science!”should be pushed aside and embraced if we want our students to be profitable and compete in a globally connected society.

One teacher in Pinellas County knows all too well how to ensure that her students succeed in science. In fact, she was recently named as a finalist for the DOE/Macy’s Teacher of the Year award. Ponce de Leon Elementary School fifth grade science and writing teacher Tracy Staley is preparing her students today for the real world of tomorrow. 

At the beginning of the school year, Ms. Staley gives her new students a survey to find out how they feel about science. She recently found that 70 percent of her students had negative feelings toward science. However, by engaging her students with hands-on science lessons, she was able to make science cool and deepen the students’ confidence in their studies.

At the end of the school year, after repeating the same survey, she found that all of the students enjoyed science – one even said it was fun and they felt like a real scientist! She has found that hands-on learning also helps with language and self-esteem.

Ms. Staley uses the Inquiry Model which enables students to work through their ideas until they have evidence to support their thinking.

In one activity, students read a science fiction mystery book after learning of force and motion. Ms. Staley then asked the students to solve the mystery using the science knowledge they just learned. Students had to justify their claims about the mystery based on scientific evidence, and the result was a fun, engaging lesson that got the kids involved and increased their science and reading skills.

Does your child like science? How can teachers make science fun for students?