Breaking down state standards is such a scary topic as a new teacher, because you know its necessary, but sometimes the wording of the standards is confusing. This post is about breaking down the standards and making it easy for you to plan your year. When I look at a standard, I look at common themes, (which can be the same thing) and in what order they need to be implemented. Additionally, I look for skill recommendations. For instance, the standard below mentions thesis writing, that tells me that the state prefers a classroom that is practicing writing.
When you are creating your plan for the year, keep in mind that most districts want you to plan to the standards, but what does that mean? I will give you an example from the Colorado state standards below:
“Use a variety of primary and secondary sources from multiple perspectives to formulate an appropriate thesis supported by evidence.”
#1 & 2: Topics and Timing
The first thing I look at are key topics that I need to identify, and help the kids remember to identify. Which means that the first thing that I would look at from this is defining primary and secondary sources. After we have defined, and students have demonstrated their understanding, we can dive into the piece where it says, “multiple perspectives”. There is a defining piece in this as well, students need to understand or be made aware of the importance of multiple perspectives, and how to choose the best one. Additionally, this standards ultimate goal is for students to be able to create a thesis based on textual evidence. This is a 7th grade World History standard, but I can tell you that I wish that my high schoolers had started as early as 7th grade, because they struggle with this concept. Which is why, one of my future posts will be how to help students create an excellent thesis.
As I mentioned above that the fact that the standard mentions writing, means that the state values students ability to write and to be able to reference textual evidence. Which means they want students to be able to write as informed writers, and not just from their own thoughts. An additional skill that this standard mentions is reading/comprehension of academic reading, like primary and secondary sources.
Now that we have broken down the standards, you might be wondering how you might implement these pieces into actual lessons. One way that I like for students to work through identifying difference pieces of a text is by doing a gallery walk. Now I have written a post about this. (Click the text or image to check it out)
I also have a few Gallery Walk Lessons in my store. (Click the highlighted text)
& Writing Activities, if you are looking for ideas/options for your social studies classroom.
Additionally, a fun activity that I do with students to practice their writing is by using writing cubes. These were first gifted to me by a colleague who was leaving teaching, and I love them. It offers a gamification option for the classroom, and allows for conversation starters as well. For example, one of the sides says, “If I saw a bear I would…” You could help students practice their quick thinking by playing popcorn with these cubes as your starters!
I hope that these ideas help your classroom blossom into an activity based classroom, that also aligns with your state standards. As well as helps you gain confidence in creating standards aligned lessons!
Let me know if you have any questions about this topic, I am always happy to help, or to point you in the right direction!