OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ready or not, more rigorous Common Core State Standards are coming to Mississippi classrooms. Schools are phasing-in the Common Core standards, requiring students to master more problem solving skills instead of just memorizing facts. This week, dozens of teachers are going back to school, learning new tools and techniques to integrate Common Core into their curriculum.
Students are registering for classes and getting ready to hit the books again. This week, 90 teachers across South Mississippi are the ones who are doing the studying. They're picking-up new strategies to inspire their students to become more critical thinkers.
"We're learning different test-taking questioning techniques to give to our kids, different activities and projects that gets them ready to think outside the box and work in groups or individually," said Pascagoula High math teacher Rolanda Jones.
The National Math and Science Initiative is hosting the training sessions this week at Ocean Springs High School. Teachers are learning how to bring Common Core concepts to life in their classrooms. That's important, because Common Core will be implemented in all Mississippi schools during the 2014-2015 school year. And the PARCC assessments will replace the MCT-2.
"The students become active participants in the learning process, rather than just receiving information and regurgitating that on a test," said Bobette Ray with the National Math & Science Initiative. "We are providing them with instructional strategies that they can use with the curriculum they have in place. So that gives them a lot more flexibility for them to be creative."
For instance, in one lab, the teachers learned how to give a fresh twist to a Science lesson. As part of a competition, they stood on a chair and tried to drop items into a bucket on the ground.
This valuable training will also help teachers better prepare students for the Advanced Placement Program, so they can earn college credit and get more scholarship opportunities.
"It's a little different way of teaching, having students become more problem solvers. Of course, the rigor is there. So they're going to be better AP test takers, better prepared for college," said Ocean Springs High Assistant Principal Kelly Long.
Both Ocean Springs and Biloxi High Schools received grants to provide this first-of-its-kind training in South Mississippi. Seven school districts are participating. The training ends on Thursday.