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Aligning Standards Based Instruction

Aligning Standards Based Instruction

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students align standards to instructional outcomes and objectives in content area. In addition, students align standards to instructional outcomes and objectives across content areas.

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In this tutorial, we'll examine how to align standards to outcomes and objectives in a single content area and across content areas. We'll begin by addressing how to align a lesson objective to multiple standards. We'll then look at how to align interdisciplinary content standards. And finally, we'll discuss some best practices. Let's get started.

First let's look at aligning a lesson objective to multiple standards. Specifically, let's align an ISTE standard to a content standard. This will help us see the process of aligning instruction and lessons to what students should be able to do and should know in order to be globally competitive with 21st century skills.

Let's begin with the objective statement, "Students will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of a persuasive argument." This objective is aligned with the Common Core literacy standard from grades 11 and 12. "Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging." A great fit for this content standard might be ISTE standard 2a. "Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media."

Using skills from the ISTE standard and the content standard, we can write a series of "I can" statements in student-appropriate language. I can use the school media center's website to locate an article that contains a persuasive argument. I can use the online class forum to discuss the article with my classmates. And I can email an expert with specific questions about the article. Finally, I can use technology to create a presentation that summarizes my evaluation of the persuasive argument in the article. These "I can" statements are written in student-friendly language and effectively combine the skills of both the content standard and the ISTE standard.

Looking back now at the standards and objectives, we can write some competencies and outcomes. For example, students can use technology to locate a persuasive article and identify its thesis statement. And students can locate and evaluate examples of persuasive writing and use technology to communicate their findings. Depending on your content area and individual situation, you may not always be able to align your content to the ISTE standards. But it's suggested as a best practice.

Now let's look at how to align interdisciplinary content standards. For example, let's look at the learning objective, "Students will explain the life cycle of an insect of their choice, using appropriate vocabulary and diagrams." This objective would be a great place to incorporate both a Common Core literacy standard and a life sciences standard from the Next Generation Science Standards.

The literacy standard asks students to write an informative or explanatory text that examines a topic and conveys ideas and information clearly. The life sciences standard asks students to develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death. We might also incorporate an ISTE standard here. Standard 1c says that students should use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.

So what might our "I can" statements look like if we're aiming to incorporate all of these various standards? Perhaps, I can use an online simulation to research the life cycle of an insect. I can use a search engine to locate pictures of the life cycle of my chosen insect. And I can create a slideshow that explains the life cycle of my insect, using correct vocabulary.

Putting this all together, a competency that we might write would be, "Students can use technology to create a slideshow." And an outcome might be, "Students can research and describe the life cycle of an insect." Once again, though not every teacher is going to be aligning content standards for multiple disciplines, it is suggested as a best practice.

Here are some tips or best practices for you to keep in mind. First, realize that most content standards describe year-end goals for what students should know and be able to do. It's important that you become familiar with standards for the previous grade level and the next grade level. This is sometimes called the progression view of the standards. You may also find it helpful to break standards down into smaller chunks that span the course of the school year.

In this tutorial, you learned how to align a lesson objective to multiple standards and how to align interdisciplinary content standards with one another. We also shared some best practices that you may wish to keep in mind as you work with standards alignment. So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Are you confident in your ability to align to multiple sets of standards? Can you see how the ISTE standards, for example, can be incorporated into multiple content areas?

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources you want. Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "Aligning Standards Based Instruction"

(00:00 - 00:22) Introduction

(00:23 - 02:30) Aligning Objectives to Multiple Standards

(02:31 - 04:15) Aligning Interdisciplinary Content Standards

(04:16 - 04:43) Best Practices

(04:44 - 04:58) Review

(04:59 - 05:33) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

The Charlotte Danielson Framework for Effective Teaching and Standards‐Based Instruction

This resource provides a side by side look at the Danielson framework with questions to consider when applying the component and its indicators in order to focus on standards based instruction.

Academic Content Standards: Creating Consistency across Oregon 

This resource from the Oregon State Department provides a clear framework explaining the CCSS, the rationale behind adoption and implementation, and shifts that will result in instruction and focus. This is a great communication tool that educators may consider referencing when developing their own understanding of the shift, or in developing a communication strategy for their organization.