Stress-Free Aligning of Standards, Activities, and Assessments
You know how I like to improve lives, right? One key shift at a time...so since I realize the huge amount of stress you're under to align your lessons with standards (wink!), here I am, swooping in to save the day, and your sanity.
One key element to classroom standards implementation is alignment. I can't tell you how many lessons I have reviewed that list a lovely set of level-appropriate standards with nice variety (like a couple of reading and a writing that supports), but then the teaching section itself seems to abandon the standards all together. Sure, students are reading and writing and often doing fun things, but they aren't learning and practicing and demonstrating mastery of the standards identified for the lesson.
What do I mean?
Sometimes I might choose a nice standard like CCRS Reading Anchor 1, Level C: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (RI/RL.5.1). Then I choose a fascinating article on how the Roaring Twenties led to the Industrial Revolution which led, in part, to global warming. "My students will love this!" I think. "I'll have them research and debate and write a summary!" What noble goals! Students would love that! Teacher of the Year will be mine!
But hold your horses. What's that standard say again?
CCRS Reading Anchor 1, Level C: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (RI/RL.5.1).
Where in the lesson is the teacher going to model ways to find and quote textual evidence? What are strategies students will employ to draw inferences in the assessment?
The best laid plans of mice and men...
But fret no more! I finally created a tool that has been in my brain for awhile now.
See, it's all about identifying the discrete skills in the standards themselves, and focusing there. In the standard above, students are to quote and infer. Step 1, the teacher explains the skill and models how to apply the skill. Step 2, students practice the skill with the teacher's help and peers' help. Step 3, students practice the skill alone with teacher review. Step 4, students demonstrate mastery of the skill in an independent assessment. (Hint: Steps 3 and 4 are often the same.)
Voila! Here's my handy tool below. Use it as a reminder when you're writing those lesson plans. If you want a printable PDF, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy planning!