Understanding and Applying Standards

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
― Aristotle

As educators we have a tremendous responsibility. We are charged with shaping the future through providing quality education for students and equipping them to the best of our ability to succeed in the adult world.

This is a daunting task. If you pause and consider all the aspects of the classroom and learning environment that teachers must consider, the effect is staggering. Teachers of today must:

Prepare students for the 21st Century Workforce

Poster (parents and teachers).jpgDifferentiate Lessons to Meet Various Needs


Implement Classroom Management Strategies


This is not a comprehensive list, but even so, the point has been made. Teachers carry a great deal of responsibility when it comes to their students.

Just one of these areas of responsibility is planning out lessons and adhering to school or state standards.

What Are Standards?

“Standards provide clear and consistent learning goals to help prepare students for college, career, and life. The standards clearly demonstrate what students are expected to learn at each grade level, so that every parent and teacher can understand and support their learning” (Read the Standards).

What is Unpacking a Standard?

For our first activity we were required to transform standards into lessons by “unpacking standards”. This concept assists teachers in creating lessons and implementing strategies that adhere to two specific standards.

In order achieve this, one must first decipher what the standard actually means. How does one go about this?

  • Identify what the student must know
  • Identify what the student must do
  • Recognize the verbs – explain, demonstrate, analyze
  • Notice the Nouns – content


What is Backwards Mapping?

It is starting from the specific goals we wish students to achieve, the exact knowledge they should posses, and skills they should master and creating the learning process around that.

“Our lessons, units, and courses should be logically inferred from the results sought, not derived from the methods, books, and activities with which we are most comfortable. Curriculum should lay out the most effective ways of achieving specific results. It is analogous to travel planning. Our frameworks should provide a set of itineraries deliberately designed to meet cultural goals rather than a purposeless tour of all the major sites in a foreign country. In short, the best designs derive backward from the learnings sought” (McTighe, J., Understanding by Design).

This concept of backwards planning, of starting with a broad standard and then narrowing the scope was a new and instructional idea for me. While I must admit it was a nit difficult to wrap my mind around at first, I do see the benefits and positive outcomes form utilizing it.

This strategy insures that students are learning what they need to be learning, and not simply receiving a hodgepodge of ideas that have been clumsily pieced together.

What are SMART Objectives?

SMART objectives are specific, written, and intentional goals that pinpoint what a student will know or do in relation to a specific lesson. For these objectives student outcomes are emphasized rather than specific actions of the teacher. These objectives must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable or observable
  • Attainable for the audience
  • Relevant and results oriented
  • Target to learner and desired level of learning


Why are Standards Important?


During this unit, I was able to observe the value in identifying a goal, breaking it down into specific and measurable objectives, and finally, observing outcomes through various activities.



Differentiated Instruction.jpg

Unit one activities have introduced new strategies for lesson planning and setting objectives. While I was quite confused at first and found the various standards quite daunting, I can now see the benefit in the backward mapping technique. If we set clear goals for ourselves as teachers, concise objectives for students, and continually monitor them through various assessments there can only be positive outcomes for all.

My Questions:

  • In my experience lesson planning in general is extremely time consuming. I’m wondering if applying standards and backwards planning is more or less time consuming than planning by a following the units in a book as I am currently used to doing?
  • I am curious when is lesson planning supposed to occur? At the beginning of the semester? Does this happen at work or in personal hours?
  • I wonder how much collaboration exists in the average school between teachers of the same grade? It seems to me a lot of time could be saved if thoughts, ideas, and work was shared.


In the Future

I would like to take time to peruse the following resources for further information and personal development:



Read the Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/

McTighe, Jay. (6, December 2012).  Common Core Big Idea 4: Map Backward From Intended Results.  Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-map-backwards-jay-mctighe-grant-wiggins.

Boroway, Amy Erin, and Cronin, Ashley. (9, November 2011).  Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards.  Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/common-core-state-standards-resources.

McTighe, J. (n.d.). Understanding by Design. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/resources/wiggins-mctighe-backward-design-why-backward-is-best.pdf

Image 1 from: http://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/rob-kriete/common-core-putting-students-paths-21st-century-success

Image 2 from: http://slideplayer.com/slide/8438039/

Image 3 from: http://www.slideshare.net/nicoles1210/pbis-strategies-classroom-management

Image 4 from: http://www.teachers.net/wong/AUG14/


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