Students at Santa Maria, Pioneer Valley, Delta and Righetti high schools entered classrooms for the first day of the 2013-14 school year Tuesday.
They received teacher contact information and listened to course introductions.
“I’m going to pose questions to you that don’t have answers,” Curt Greeley, a history teacher at Righetti High School, told his students.
He said students would be asked to postulate and explain their reasoning. They would reenact signing of the Paris peace treaty, the Versailles conference and the French Revolution.
“We’re actually going to experience history,” Greeley said.
This year Central Coast teachers would be intertwining instruction strategies that invoke deeper thinking and explanation as part of a statewide move to a new set of internationally benchmarked curriculum standards known as Common Core State Standards.
Teachers throughout the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District attended the first district-wide Common Core training session Monday.
The training spanned differences between the old and new standards and accompanying assessment systems, inclusion of 21st Century Skills and the shifts necessary to invoke a deeper level of understanding for students, John Davis, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said in an email.
“It was mostly foundational knowledge that many of our teachers already possess but needed to be shared on a total district scale as many have not had any training yet,” Davis said.
The district partnered with Pivot Learning Partners, a nonprofit that assists school districts in the transition to Common Core State Standards through what the organization calls a “multifaceted leadership and system-building approach.”
Steve Molina, Righetti High School principal, said teachers of core subject areas (math, English, science and social studies) participated in a needs assessment last year and built a base for future implementation needs and professional development.
On Monday, teachers looked at sample math and English assessments that align with the new standards, and the next day teachers like Greeley informed students of the level of critical thinking instruction would probe.
While some Righetti students said they had not heard of Common Core, others were familiar with the general concept of the new standards.
Erinn Freeman, a sophomore at Righetti, said one of her teachers had informed her class of the shift.
“It’s better than now,” she said comparing current and potential future instruction at Righetti. “Now, it’s just boring. You sit and listen to the teacher.”