“Today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.” (http://www.corestandards.org/what-parents-should-know)
What are the standards and what do they expect students to know and be able to do? What key terms from the standards will students need to know, develop and use? How do the standards progress from Kindergarten to 12thgrade? These are some questions teachers seek to answer as they engage in dialogue centered on unpacking the standards.
Starting with the standards has put many things in perspective. It is truly a paradigm shift. This means putting standards before pedagogy because the reality is if all the effort teachers are putting into classroom activities is not going to evidence itself in the assessments, then that mark has been missed. It doesn’t matter how one dresses up a lesson with strategies if the lesson itself is not tied to a grade level standard.
Teachers who have engaged in this intentional process have realized the shift in the way they plan lessons. By shifting lesson planning to start with the standards in mind, they’ve acknowledged the great impact it has had on teaching and learning in their classrooms. They now appreciate the value of 1) starting with the standard (a lesson-size chunk), 2) determining the level of cognition they are working at with their students (blooms) and then 3) designing a meaningful academic task tied to the standard that is both observable and measurable. This process is then synthesized and communicated to students through content and language objectives.
OoOoh, there’s that word…objectives.
The reality is teaching is hard. It’s not hard because we have to write content and language objectives. It’s hard because we teachers have to think about designing a lesson tied to a standard with a measurable academic task. Objectives are just a vehicle to help teachers put that together in a succinct way.
The bottom line is: kids are learning every day. What this standards-based approach has done is empower teachers to ask the tough question: are they learning exactly what they are supposed to be learning? And to answer that question, we have to cycle back to the standards again.