Creating Standards-Based Lessons|
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandates that all states set and assess state learning standards that identify the content and skills that students need to acquire at each grade level.
Generally, academic standards describe what needs to be taught, but not when or how to teach it. School districts and those who teach within them are obligated to use the state standards in the instruction they deliver to students. Use the following suggestions to bring your practice in line with state standards.
Align Pacing Guides with State Standards
State standards can serve as the impetus for creating pacing guides to determine a course content sequence. Envisioning the "end products" or learning outcomes serve as a logical beginning for pacing guide development.
Educators should ask:
By envisioning the end product and then planning backward from that goal, educators can devise pacing guides that cover the necessary standards.
- What would a student who has mastered each of the mandated state standards be able to do?
- What would that student understand and be able to explain?
Follow the Pacing Guides
Once the pacing guide is developed, consider proposed deviations from the guide carefully. Sidetracking to cover material unrelated to the mandated standards could unduly penalize a student at test-time or at the next level of study, if it takes time away from standards instruction. However, sidetracking to cover crucial material may actually benefit students.
Working with Your Textbook
Textbook publishers often align textbook content with state standards. Educators should determine if the course textbook content is correlated to state standards or approved by the state. Many states compile a list of appropriate textbooks after comparing the text to the state standards.
Another method to confirm textbook alignment with the standards is to visit the textbook web site. Publishers, such as Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, offer links to correlated content directly from the Internet.
If you are required to use a text that has not been reviewed or approved by the state, you should methodically compare the content of the text to the state standards. Supplemental materials may be necessary in order to address each standard sufficiently.
Use Effective Teaching Methods for Standards-Based Content
Some educators avoid the mandated standards for fear that they will stifle creative approaches to teaching. While these standards must drive educational goals, teachers should strive to address the standards in meaningful and creative ways.
- Note the relationships among standards, then construct units or lessons that involve several standards simultaneously.
- Design instruction using multiple intelligences theory.
- Apply brain-based learning techniques.
In addition to state standards, many professional organizations have developed national standards for learning.
National and state standards bring consistency to education. In the subject area tips, specific advice for dealing with standards in your content area is offered.
- National Council for Teachers of English offers Standards for the English Language Arts, which presents a vision of literacy education that encompasses the use of print, oral, and visual language and addresses six interrelated English language arts: reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing.
- National Council for the Social Studies offers Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Culture that identifies and addresses standards for ten themes.
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has published Principals and Standards for School Mathematics to describe "an ambitious and comprehensive set of goals for mathematics instructionů" in the mathematical content areas of numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis and probability, along with goals for the processes of problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, communication, and representation.
- National Science Teachers Association has had national standards in place since 1995, published as The National Science Education Standards. They are goals for achievement that are appropriate for all members of the science education community.
This article was contributed by Janice Christy, M.Ed., English Department Chair at Louisa County High School in Louisa, Virginia.