Kids learn problem solving with new, national standards

Kids learn problem solving with new, national standards

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - From start to finish, the days are not stop at Drena Ozene's house. She has two daughters, a first grader and fifth grader. They're involved with soccer and dancing, along with the nightly homework. 

"There's really no break," said Ozene. 

Trish Stoll, mentor teacher and literacy coach for the Gulfport School District, says homework is meant to reinforce what's taught in the classroom. Although the amount of homework is a teacher's preference, it isn't designed to be a burden. 

"An overwhelming amount of homework is not necessary," said Stoll. 

But as Ozene is finding out, the way teachers are teaching is changing drastically. 

"They have to study not just one thing, but study everything about that subject so that no matter what question is thrown at you, you have the answer to it," said Ozene. 

The new approach to teaching stems from a set of national standards now called College and Career Readiness Standards in Mississippi. No matter what it's called, it's all about problem solving. 

"Instead of asking what do you want to be when you grow up, I like to ask what kind of problems do you want to solve when you grow up," said Stoll. "Being a problem solver puts students in the driver's seat."

The problem solving approach can lead to frustration for parents. 

"The way that I was taught and the way they're taught is completely different," said Ozene. "If it's something they have to ask me for help on, when I start showing them the way I do it they're like no that's not right. So they don't want me to help them."

While Ozene might feel overwhelmed, fourth grade teacher at Twenty-Eighth Street Elementary in Gulfport Angela August says she's always looking for practical ways to teach. If she can relate to the student, then they have a better chance of learning. 

"I think they're overwhelmed if you don't present it in an engaging way," said August. "It's very important to let them know why they're learning it, not just throw out their lesson and not know what the purpose is. If they feel like there's a purpose you'll have students engaged in what they're doing."

What can lead to a large amount of homework is testing, but August says tests are a crucial part of the learning process. 

"You have to find out what they don't own," said August. "So then you give them an assessment and like I tell my students, this is to help me to help you."

Ultimately, the goal for teachers isn't for students to pass a test, but to be prepared for life. 

"They have to be able to deal with problems in life. They're going to have to learn multiple strategies. They're going to have to be able to tackle things without always having someone right there to give them answers," said August. "They have to understand that it's okay to mess up, and it's okay to fail at something. So once they feel that confidence and be able to take risks, they're able to become better problem solvers." 

While Ozene may not always know the answers, she knows it's important for her kids to understand the work, and says they're on the right track.

"They may stumble with some of the problems, but I think overall they understand it," said Ozene. "It's just getting to the answer that they have to work on."

The Mississippi Department of Education's website has a section explaining the College and Career Readiness Standards. According to the site, the new standards are more rigorous and students will be learning important concepts in earlier grades. 

Parents can learn more about the new approach to learning by visiting

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