It’s all about standards

This has possibly been my favorite week to date in the teaching program. We’ve been learning about how to use the standards, the end goals, when planning our teaching. It’s overwhelming to read all of these standards–I took a whole morning just reading through the English Language Arts standards for K-3–but working with these concrete goals makes what I’m doing feel real and tangible. More so because we’re not just reading them, we’re breaking them down to their simplest building blocks and comparing them to things like Bloom’s Taxonomy and talking through them and just really digging into them. At least a few of them.

The backwards mapping was a good introduction to the process. I felt like it was a toe dip into the waters of being a real teacher. I would have liked more guidance because I felt like I was over-thinking and yet not quite getting it. But I do get the gist of starting a big project by knowing where you want to get and going backwards from there.

Unpacking a standard felt familiar to backwards mapping, but maybe with more focus on each individual word of the standard. This word, “produce,” what does it mean??? A lot, actually. Also, the Common Core standards for fifth graders are way more intense that Virginia’s standards for third graders.

Assuming I had understood everything up to that point, by the time I got to writing learning objectives, I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities. It felt like the standard and its accompanying curriculum framework (both written by the Commonwealth of Virginia) laid out exactly what they expected my students to know. I just needed to list it out in ways that would keep me and my students focused on the goal for that lesson, day, or unit, whatever the case may be.

Parts of this process feels a little redundant, when the essential skills borrow language from the standard itself, and when objectives ask for those skills again. Of course, I could be missing something and be headed straight for an insufficient. I do wish we had seen this modeled in class. Perhaps that would have been dull for my colleagues already in classrooms, but I work a lot better when I have an idea of what the end product should look like, and I didn’t with this. I don’t think it would matter that we would all have to go back and do these activities for the wide range of subjects and grade levels, because I am confident I can transmute what I see into what I need. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t trust myself to teach myself, yet it feels like that’s what I’m doing a lot of the time.

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