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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Unwrapping the standards

Unwrapping the standards

Related Tags: Common Core
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I would like to hear commments on this topic from Walden U students. Unwrapping the state standards is a number one priority in our district in Georgia. I do not disagree with the necessity to break down the standards; I do wonder if any one is working in a district who is not trying to reinvent the wheel-there has to be a simpler and more efficient way... Elena Aguilar's simple, but imperative reminder to simply focus our attention with "a sharp, laser-beam, unwavering focus" on the selected standards when teaching is well directed at me. I teach first graders in Georgia and our little learners are subjected to the end of the year-standardized test. We teach in standards-based classrooms and are currently "unwrapping" the standards as grade level teams. We do not have designated "power standards" though we did when I taught in SC. The lack of "power standards" does create a very dense and mangled collection of standards that are written in convoluted language. However, we are moving through the process of creating the stepping-stones of "sub skills" needed to master each standard, the lack of clarity of the language of the standards are getting in the way. I am not sure why the classroom teachers are asked to dismantle the standards, in each team of grade level teachers, at each school. It seems that a district level group who can devote the needed time and research to this matter would be better able to devise the instructional plan needed to: unwrap the standards, break down the sub-skills needed to master the standards, plan effective instruction, and develop common assessments. Does anyone work in a school system where you are tackling this endeavor with more efficient results? I am frustrated by this massive effort to all "recreate the wheel." I know the necessity of understanding the standards I teach, but I teach six different subject areas. Any suggestions on how to eat his proverbial elephant?

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Sarah Ferrians's picture

I work in Washington state. Last year, my district started developing power standards. We are focusing on one subject area at a time. The first subject area was reading. All of the teachers at each grade level met throughout the year. As a team, we looked at our standards and selected the ones we felt should be the power standards. Then, our reading cadre, which is made up of teachers, coaches and administrators, finalized the list for each grade level. Even though we started this process last year, we still have not seen the finalized list. I assume that the cadre will be responsible for developing assessments for each standard, but I am not sure. The second set of power standards my district has created is for math. These were created for us, by a group of teachers, coaches and administrators. At the beginning of this school year, we were given the standards along with the assessments for each standard.

As teachers, we have many things to accomplish, adding one more thing to our plate can be frustrating. Although I like being able to give input on this matter, it was more efficient for the power standards to be created without the input of all of the teachers in the district.

Ann Cobb's picture

Thanks for your input. I feel that we are replicating a lot of effort by all starting at square one with unwrapping the standards. We do need to be involved in the process, but adding this just as we are trying to successfully implement the Response To Intervention model is a bit overwheliming.

Rebecca Kovar's picture

I teach at a Primary school in South Carolina. I see that you did mention that you used to teach in SC. Our school has just started the process this year of "unwrapping the standards". Our first subject we unwrapped was math. We first looked at our standards (first grade) and then compared them with the grade below and the grade above. We were looking for common language used among the math standards. For example in our first grade standards it uses the word digit instead of number. This was also the case for second grade. Kindergarten simply used the word number. From this step, we realized that our children need to be exposed to similar wording to be most successful. Once my first grade team and I picked out our power standards, we all sat down one day and made common assessments specific to each power standard. We also created 2-3 different forms of each assessment. Thus far, these have seemed beneficial. I think the most crucial part of my specific involvement with unwrapping the standards is working with people who all have the same goal- success for our children. The process of unwrapping the standards is a long process, one which is ongoing for now. Like I mentioned, we have only started with math. I feel that even though it was very time consuming and tedious at the time, it will be beneficial to our students so that they may have maximum success.

sherri worrell's picture

I work for a school district in Virginia. We had lost accredidation until last year. The state had sent in auditors to help us get back on track. The school I am at only has 6th and 7th grade. The sixth grade test changes tremendously from the 5th and the students have a hard time processing the multi-level questions. We have learned to unpack the standards, verb usage, and vocabulary. Thankfully we made it last year so the plan of action this year was to meet as a subject from grades 1st-12th and discuss the vocabulary being used. This is helping because the same vocabulary is being taught from the beginning thru high school. We are not going to see the benefits for a few years but this allows the teachers from the elementary , middle, and high school to work together and not to re-invent the wheel.

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