Teaching is about more than just planning fun lessons. Use the following steps to use standards to drive your curriculum!
I think we teachers all come into the teaching world with a similar mindset. We all have these amazing, fun ideas for the classroom…dreams about being the best teachers that are most loved by our students because we plan these fun, authentic lessons. We feel confident (or should I say hopeful) that the students will learn all that they need to know because gosh darn it they are going to have fun!
we get to the classroom and realize teaching is SO MUCH MORE than a fun activity. Rather, we realize we need to teach lessons that align with our grade-level standards. We need to be able to show that our students are mastering these standards and have data to prove it. And then we realize…
Yikes! Teaching is way more complicated than we originally thought!
Fortunately, most schools follow the Common Core which specifically shows us the skills our students should master throughout the academic year. It shows us what we NEED to be teaching!
In essence, the Common Core makes it easier on us! The standards are like destinations on a map, but we get to choose which road we take and which vessel to use!
Would you like to drive the jeep or the van today, kids? Ha!
After Common Core was established, I went through a training that taught me how to break down the standards and was on a planning committee at our Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA) with lead ELA teachers from other districts. Both of these opportunities really helped me gain knowledge and a system for digging into my standards and helped me learn the need to have a standards-based curriculum.
I learned that not only is planning my curriculum around the standards important but blocking standards together is THE BEST way to teach ELA effectively!
Follow the steps below to use the Common Core standards to drive your curriculum.
Deconstruct the Standards
Before you can start creating lessons, you have to dig deeper into the standards to determine exactly what they are asking and what the prerequisites are that need to be covered.
Deconstructing standards can be a bit time-consuming, but totally worth it! If interested, I have a blog post on deconstructing standards and a template on my TpT store. Or you can check out this blog post which walks you through how to achieve ELA standard mastery!
Create a Curriculum Guide
After you have carefully deconstructed each standard, create a curriculum guide. I would set it up with a chart that includes a column for the standard itself, possible learning targets, important vocabulary to cover, and a column for the number of units you have in total.
Ensure your unit assessments and benchmarks cover all the standards.
For this, I would definitely use the backward design; create a list of standards covered on each benchmark/unit assessment to have for when you start planning out the design of your units. Oftentimes, this process is done as a core team and should be a priority for your subject area each year.
If you happen to have your assessments built out already, feel free to grab this FREE RESOURCE to audit each assessment to ensure each covers the rigor and weight of each standard.
Design your units and block your standards together
This is the fun part…the part where you get to design the fun, authentic lessons your students will love you for!
Many standards are taught well together and so it is best to block standards together in a way that allows you to cover more territory in one unit.
- 7RL1 states “Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.”
- 7W6 states “Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.”
- 7L1 states “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. “
All three of these could easily be put into one main lesson or unit to effectively teach all three skills. For example, I could have my students read an excerpt from the memoir Night and then post several prompts for them to build analyses upon. They could then publish their analyses onto online discussion boards and build conversations around those discussions. Of course, students must “demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar” which I will be teaching mini-lessons on throughout the entire year.
See how it works?
When it is all said and done…
the goal is to ensure that students have mastered all of the necessary standards by the end of the year. Thus, you as the teacher must know the standards and make a plan to cover all of them!
Feel free to check out my 7th Grade Editable ELA Curriculum Guide Product HERE!
Additionally, you can access a blog post on how to Deconstruct Standards into Learning Targets HERE.
If you have created a guide for most of your standards but feel like certain ones are lacking mastery, check out my new product line which includes a product for each Common Core standard. Check out the entire product line at my TPT shop!
Happy Curriculum Planning!