September 2010 Newsletter

Support for Teachers continues with Big Ideas Learning

As teachers begin implementing the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, Big Ideas Learning continues to provide on going support. Lisa Goldsmith, Florida Math Specialist for the company, says, “Starting a new school year is stressful every year. This year is even more so with new standards and a whole new math program. I want to be able to support Florida’s math teachers as they move forward”.

Lisa can be reached via email and Skype at

The New FCAT 2.0

FCAT 2.0 tests are to assess the student’s achievement of the high-order thinking skills represented in the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS). The questions were designed using Webb’s depth of knowledge. Low level complexity questions require recall and recognition while medium level complexity questions require more critical thinking. High level complexity questions require analysis and abstract reasoning. Approximately 70% of the questions are of medium level complexity. All questions are either multiple choice and/or gridded response. Student scores from last year’s FCAT will be statistically linked to this year’s FCAT 2.0 scores.

Students not prepared

Many teachers are experiencing classes where students’ prior knowledge is lacking. This requires more time spent on reviewing previous concepts. The initial thought is, “I need to slow down from the pacing of the program and re-teach”. Like in the past, this would result in cramming in the remaining concepts right before state testing.  A suggestion is to incorporate as much prior vocabulary and concepts into a discussion using Warm-up #1 (this warm-up is always a review of previous concepts). Also, spend more time on the activity, if needed. The examples from the direct instruction lesson can always be incorporated into the discussion of the activity. Remember, this paradigm shift will take time, however, the students will benefit in the end.

Teacher Tips

For activities, group students in fours. Rank your students by FCAT scores, separate into quartiles and randomly pick a student from each quartile.

Amy, 6th Grade Math Teacher

Have students illustrate where in the real world a vocabulary word is seen or applied. Use these illustrations to decorate your classroom bulletin board. For example, Triangles are used to construct many bridges.

Mary, 8th Grade Math Teacher

Would you like to share a teacher tip? If so, email it to Lisa Goldsmith at