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State Standards--Discussion and Comparison

Host: Gail Tucker
Presenters: The AE Community

Background Information

All of us have been provided with a number of versions of our individual state's standards for biology in recent years, and we have seen National Standards promoted in Washington. During the past two years, several of you in the AE community have sent e-mails requesting copies of state standards for use as your own districts or states develop standards.

Whether we like to "teach to" the standards of our individual states or not, they are a reality and in my state--Florida--parents are even provided with a printed copy of the standards and are encouraged to follow their child's biology coursework to assure that the standards are being met. The same is true, by the way, for other disciplines in our area.

We thought it might be instructive to create an archive of State Standards with discussions, and activities that are used by teachers to enhance learning of the standards.

In my case I elected to work with the standards and to design a useful study tool for my students which I reasoned should, among other things: 1.) not take up substantial class time needed so desperately to teach the content of a Biology I class, 2.) be something that would be amenable to self-evaluation by my students, 3.) serve as an alternative assignment when I was out of the classroom for any reason, 4.) serve as a study aid for the content and concepts of the course as I teach it. I've included my first version of that activity here--it was used by students in my classes this year. As the year went on I found it was an easy matter to ask them to identify the standard that was being illustrated by a particular lesson as the lesson was in progress. For many students (I won't pretend to say most!), this was a helpful adjunct to their regular assignments--especially students who are more concrete sequential than I and who sometimes felt unsure of the intent of a lesson or lab exercise. In particular, a couple of my borderline students seemed relieved to have a place to go to assist them in analyzing their classroom experiences.

The issue of Standards in life science education is accompanied by both pedagogical and practical implications. For discussion we might start with some of these questions: Do any of you use special assignments/etc. for your students in re your state standards? Are your classroom activities designed to take these standards into account? Do you feel pressure as Science Department Chairpersons to support and encourage inclusion of state standards in your departments? These are some of the questions we might discuss here, as well as discussing the very real questions of whether standards are necessary, as well as whether the standards that are already in place are appropriate!

In addition to the Florida State Standards handout (See: Related activities, this SciTalk), I give my students the handout "How to get an A" at the beginning of the year (See Link below). We go over each handout in class, and I require that they be maintained in the front of their notebooks throughout the year, along with course outlines and objectives. I feel that the pairing of these activities stimulates students to use the standards as a guide in their studies, and that the "Getting an A" handout may help develop better study habits, especially in incoming 9th and 10th graders.

Related Activities:
"Getting an A" tips page
Florida Science Standards


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