Tips & Strategies for Teaching to Course Standards

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  • 0:00 Tests & Standards
  • 0:35 Begin Planning
  • 2:00 Building Learning Activities
  • 3:09 Designing Assessments
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

While standards are a means by which states, school districts, and schools ensure uniformity in teaching, not every teacher understands how to use them to their advantage. This lesson will look at how to analyze standards and use them to design activities and assessments in the classroom.

Tests & Standards

Whether we accept it or not, the reality of teaching in America today is that teachers' yearly evaluations are, in most cases, tied in some degree to their students' performance on standards-based state testing. In some states, legislatures are even trying to connect teachers' pay to their students' performance on high-stakes testing. As a result, it's more important than ever that teachers learn how to break down their standards by identifying key vocabulary and critical concepts their students need to learn, and use them as a tool to create appropriate learning activities and assessments.

Begin Planning

As teachers, our instructional plans begin with our standards. In most cases, your standards are a state-produced document that details the content that needs to be covered each year in each subject for schools, teachers, and administrators.

Most of us begin by printing out the standards we teach. Then we go through the standards and highlight key terms or concepts that need to be addressed in our lessons. Starting from this point, it's a good idea to create a chart similar to this one, using paper or computer.

Mapping the Content Standards
Mapping the Content Standards

In the chart, you want to list the standard first. Then, list out any key terms or critical concepts you identify for each standard. Critical concepts are skills or more abstract idea that a student needs to have or understand.

Once that's done, it's good to sit down with teachers who also teach the same standards and reflect on each key term or concept you identified. For veteran teachers, this process can help you identify aspects of the standards you may have been missing. For a less experienced teacher, this is a good process to use to begin planning lessons for the first time. Working together, try to explain to each other what a student would need to know in order to understand the term or concept.

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