Close Reading the Standards

How do you clearly communicate the standards and learning targets to your students?

The Georgia teacher evaluation system lists the following for element 3:

3. Instructional Strategies: The teacher promotes student learning by using research-based instructional strategies relevant to the content
to engage students in active learning and to facilitate the students’ acquisition of key knowledge and skills.

3.1 Engages students in active learning and maintains interest.
3.2 Builds upon students’ existing knowledge and skills.
3.3 Reinforces learning goals consistently throughout the lesson.
3.4 Uses a variety of research-based instructional strategies and resources.
3.5 Effectively uses appropriate instructional technology to enhance student learning.
3.6 Communicates and presents material clearly, and checks for understanding.
3.7 Develops higher-order thinking through questioning and problem-solving activities. 
3.8 Engages students in authentic learning by providing real-life examples and interdisciplinary connections. 

I am really focusing on 3.6 in this post. Are you truly communicating the standards clearly and explicitly for students? Do students REALLY know what it is they are to show they know and are able to apply? Many times we THINK they know, but in actuality, they do not. How can we ensure students CLEARLY understand what we are asking them to know and be able to do?

Close reading the standards WITH students allows them the opportunity to dig deeper and really investigate the words within the standards, so that the targets are clear to them BEFORE they begin any work. Can we expect them to be successful without a clear understanding of what it is we want them to know and be able to do? Of course not! Many times, it is this very thing that can make or break your lesson. We may have the perfect lesson planned (or so we think), but then it go terribly wrong. Could it be that they really didn't understand what we were asking of them? Sure. 

To keep this from happening, closely read and break down the standards together. Hold them accountable for knowing what it is they are responsible for showing, producing, etc. I have created a document with each standard on a separate page for you and your students to work through standards as you come to them. When I begin any lesson, we take at least 5-10 (even more depending on the depth of the standard) to figure out what the standard is really asking of us. I feel confident that this is time WELL spent! I conducted these same type of conversations with my Kindergarten students, so it can be done at ANY grade level. This is a 5th grade standards set. I hope (if there is interest) in creating the same for other grade levels. This would be great to have for each child in a notebook, so they can constantly refer back to the standard throughout the year (since we do not teach it only once). 

Included in this set are all 5th grade READING/ELA standards, each on a separate page for students to take notes during the close reading and then in the end, they will put the target in their own words. There are 74 pages, directions on how to use, and a sample of how the conversation might sound during the close read. Please visit my TpT page to purchase. 

Posted on January 30, 2014

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