As educators, we are responsible for preparing our students for the next grade. That means they need to be able to demonstrate mastery of the standards for your grade level. Whether you use the Common Core Standards, TEKS, or another set of state standards, they should be the foundation for your teaching. Here are some tips to help your students master the standards.
How to Help Your Students Master the Standards
Step #1 – Get to know your grade level’s standards.
Before you can help your students master the standards, you need to know them inside and out. When you start teaching a new grade, you should begin by getting to know the standards.
Some of the language in the standards can be confusing. I like to write them in kid-friendly language to make sure I understand what they mean. This is also helpful for the “I can” statements I post on my board for every lesson.
In addition to knowing what is expected at your grade level, I also think it’s valuable to look at the standards for the grade level below and the grade level above. That way, you know what your students are expected to do coming into your classroom and what they will need to do the following year. This can help as you’re planning remediation and enrichment activities.
#2 – Start with the standards when you’re planning lessons.
Once you know the standards well, you’re ready to start planning your lessons. Choose a standard to focus on for the day or week. Some standards can be covered in a day or two while others will take a week or longer. Think about how many lessons it will take you to fully teach the standard.
If your school has programs for math or reading, go through the lessons and map out their alignment with the standards. It’s important that you make sure you’re teaching all of the standards. If any are missing, you will need to add in your own lessons.
#3 – Include integration and application of the standards.
I usually start by teaching a standard in isolation so I can make sure my students understand it. However, it is also very important to make sure you are integrating it with other standards and having your students apply the skill independently. These skills will be very important when it comes time for state testing.
For math, I like to use performance tasks to help my students apply the standards and use many of them at the same time. At my guided math problem solving center, they use the skill we’re learning and previously-learned concepts to solve real world problems.
For reading, my students apply the reading strategies in their books during reading workshop. I also like to integrate the reading standards into my science and social studies lessons.
#4 – Assess your students’ mastery of the standards.
It’s hard to help your students move toward mastery of the standards if you don’t know what they are currently able to do. That’s why both formative and summative assessments are so important.
I like using exit tickets each day as formative assessments. For reading, my students stop and jot about how they applied the reading strategy in their book that day. For math, they answer a question or two about the skill we learned. This data allows me to see how they are progressing toward mastery of the standard.
After I’ve completely taught the standard, I give a summative assessment to see who has mastered it and who needs more practice. In reading, my students take a quick assessment each Friday after we’ve practiced a standard for the whole week. In math, I give an assessment at the end of the unit on that standard.
These are some of the standard assessments I use.
#5 – Track your students’ progress.
It’s important to keep records of where your students are in their mastery of the standards. That way, you know what skills you need to revisit.
There are lots of different ways you can track your students’ progress. You could make chart with all of your students’ names down the side and the standards across the top. As a student shows mastery of a standard, check it off beside their name.
I like to use digital badging to keep track of which standards my students have mastered. After I give a summative assessment, I give the students who received a 3 or a 4 a badge. They also have a copy of their badge sheet in their Google Drive, so they know which standards they’ve mastered and which ones they should keep practicing. This is great for goal-setting.
#6 – Use the data to create small groups.
Once you’ve taught a standard to your whole class, you will probably have a group of students who have mastered it and others who still need more practice. Small groups are a great way to differentiate your instruction and meet the needs of all your students.
For math, I use guided math groups. There is an enrichment group for the students who have already mastered the standard, an on-level group for those who almost completely understand it, and a remediation group for those that need some help. When I started using guided math, I saw a huge improvement in all of my students’ standard mastery. The small group structure allowed me to focus on their individual needs and help them make progress.
For reading, I use strategy groups. To form these groups, I look for students who have the same needs. If 3 or 4 students are all struggling with finding the theme of a story, I pull them into a strategy group and focus on that specific skill. We practice together and then I send them off to practice more in their independent reading. My strategy groups are flexible, and they change weekly based on the data I collected that week.
Using all of these tips will help your students master the standards.
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What Do You Think?
How do you help your students master all of the standards?
Let me know in the comments below.
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