Dr. Kimberly Handy
The Curriculum and Instructional Support Department of the Anchorage School District has begun the process of revising and re-sequencing the high school Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum in order to ensure alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other districts across the state and nation to improve student preparedness for postsecondary opportunities (Anchorage School District, 2012).
Currently, requirement for graduation: four credits of language arts and four credits of social studies—this total will remain the same, but the content and sequencing of the courses will include an up-to-date curriculum. According to Preston (2012), “The capacity for a school to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to standards, and adopt them into classroom teaching, are the same skills needed to adapt and improve teaching to meet a variety of needs. Implementing new ideas into practice begins with a particular kind of planning that prepares teachers, defines instruction, and measures results. However, we struggle to find enough time to do this sufficiently; we fall short of becoming ready for classroom practice.” As a member of the alignment team, several areas required addressing to help teachers understand the new alignment of the CCSS: Essential Questions, Academic Plans, Learning Outcomes, and Success Criteria.
ü Essential Question:
1. What are Academic Plans and why do we have them?
ü Learning Outcomes:
1. Teachers will understand how and why the Academic Plans were created, what they are and are not.
2. Teachers will understand how and where to locate the plans.
3. Teachers will know whom to contact if they have questions about the content.
4. Teachers will know how to navigate the document.
ü Success Criteria:
1. I can restate the reasoning and process of revising the guides into Academic Plans.
2. I can easily locate and navigate the Academic Plan document.
3. I can identify the teachers to contact with questions about the content of the Academic Plan. (Anchorage School District, 2012)
According to Benjamin Bloom (1956), there are three distinctive domains of learning: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor. According to Bloom (1956),
Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)
Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude)
Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)
By utilizing the different perspectives of Bloom’s Taxonomy along with test’s scores, educators are able to bring allusions through different lens, increase the complexity of text allowing students to become producers of knowledge and not just consumers of it. Allowing for a focus on multiple readings of a text, teaching students to navigate texts and grapple with comprehension, and increase attention to academic vocabulary (Handy, 2012).
In order to obtain the best vocabulary environment for the student, a student must have exposure to certain tiered words, which will transition students from ordinary to complex terms, enriching their vocabulary as well as reading skills. Skills needed not only in English but all aspects of the educational environment (Handy, 2012).
Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will also play a major role in providing a safe environment for struggling learners, curricular expectations, and instructional considerations. An important component of this is, How will teachers follow the new imperatives placed upon them, how will they expect a higher demand from students, and set realistic expectations for the students and themselves? (Handy, 2012) Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, and Cammack (2004) explained, “Teachers become more important, though their role changes, within new literacy classrooms as today’s teacher is no longer the single source of knowledge and roles of students and teachers may even be reversed.” As educators also prepare students, who are native speakers of English, they must also contend with those that are not and English is a second or third language (Handy, 2012). According to The New Teacher Project (TNTP) (2012), “The Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE) Instructional Framework describes TNTP’s vision of excellent classroom practice for our Fellows and consists of nine competencies in three domains.” These competences are applicable when aligning the CCSS in classrooms as scaffolding techniques for learning, understanding, and retaining material.
§ Instruction Domain
o I-1: Delivers Lessons
o I-2: Checks for Student Understanding of Content
o I-3: Responds to Student Learning Needs
o I-4: Builds Higher-Order Thinking Skills
§ Culture Domain
o C-1: Maintains High Academic Expectations
o C-2: Maintains High Behavioral Expectations
o C-3: Maximizes Instructional Time
§ Planning Domain
o P-1: Plans for Ambitious Goals and Rigorous Instruction
o P-2: Collects, Tracks, and Uses Data to Drive Instruction (TNTP, 2012)
Concrete feedback based on observation data paired with targeted practice of next steps will be one of your most frequently used strategies for developing alignment. In a debriefing conversations, giving the educator one to two next steps that align to the prioritized development identifiable areas. For these next steps to succeed, the educator must have an opportunity to build his or her skills in the identified development area and practice implementation before going ‘on-stage’ with students. First, the teacher communicates each learning target along with its relevance to the ultimate goal. Second, teachers need to provide students with not only an explanation, but also a demonstration of what resembles a so that students know what they should be trying to achieve. This capacity to fit, align, and design is a required skill; it is an art; it is the capacity to change teaching. Teachers need this level of support. According to Preston (2012), “Teachers with this skill set look at new objectives and new strategies through the lens of a designer, fully capable of planning, teaching, and revising daily instruction.” As Lewis (2002) states, “If you want to improve instruction, what could be more obvious than collaborating with fellow teachers to plan, observe, and reflect on lessons.” Wiggins and McTighe (1999) offer six classifications of formative assessment (evidence) that fits perfectly here: 1) Quizzes and tests, 2) Final products, 3) Oral responses, 4) Public performances, 5) Observations, and 6) Written responses. Though evidence of teaching and learning takes many forms, written responses prove to be a leverage point when used for quality teaching, reading, and writing strategies. Without forcing, teachers will support literacy while improving the teaching of their content (Preston, 2012).
Finally, both teachers and students should gather student-learning information via feedback strategies during practice sessions. It is imperative that ambiguity, a design for focus and clarity, and shifting are in place (Preston, 2012). Ambiguity allows for exploration of new ideas; knocking out old belief patterns with new and innovative evolving ones. Focus on essential objectives that align other elements of instruction, remove irrelevant content, and increase understanding. Last but not least, as the design becomes more familiar, take the lesson used earlier put it to the side, and take up the challenge to take on a new, but also, more difficult task expanding an educator’s knowledge base, critical thinking strategies, and skills.
Common Core | Anchorage School District. (n.d.). Anchorage School District. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from http://www.asdk12.org/commoncore/
Handy, K. (2012). Anchorage School District and The Common Core State Standards - Anchorage K-12 | Examiner.com. Welcome to Examiner.com | Examiner.com. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from http://www.examiner.com/article/anchorage-school-district-and- the-common-core-standards?cid=db_articles
Leu, D.J., Jr., Kinzer, C.K., Coiro, J., & Cammack, D.W. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other information and communication technologies. In R.B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed., pp. 1570–1613). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Lewis, C. C. (2002). Lesson study: a handbook of teacher-led instructional change. Philadelphia, Pa.: Research for Better Schools, Inc.
McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. P. (1999). Understanding by design handbook. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Our vision for fellow excellence. (n.d.). TNTP | TNTP. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from http://tntp.org