I will break standards into objectives.

January 3, 2013 at 12:38 am Leave a comment

When I found myself writing paragraphs in response to a reader’s comment, I decided the topic deserved a full post. The comment said, “I have been reading your blog in preparation for teaching my son math at home next semester… I love how you rephrased the math standards as , “I will” statements and posted all of them on the wall. I would like to do something similar. Where do you suggest I begin? We are aligned with the common core. Did you just rephrase each standard listed there?” Here’s my reply…

objectivesThanks for your comment! I don’t know if you had a chance to read this post. It explains how a fellow teacher and I broke the standards into smaller daily objectives in order to write a plan for the school year. This is especially important with the Common Core standards because each one is so dense and complicated.

Sometimes you’ll read a standard and the objectives will just start coming to you. I found that the case when I taught fifth grade because the concepts were ones I understood very well. Now that I’m teaching eighth grade, it is a lot harder. These are some strategies that have helped me:

(1) Find problems that test a particular standard and ask yourself, “What are all the things I need to know how to do to solve this problem?” You can find sample questions at various state websites. I like the Massachusetts question search the best. But I think the page is still being updated, and it isn’t quite clear which question goes with which common core standard yet. Illustrative Mathematics has questions that are reviewed by some of the same people who wrote the Common Core standards. I think the questions are really challenging for each grade level, but what do I know?

(2) Find a thought partner and brainstorm. It is likely that another person will think of objectives you didn’t.

(3) Study a relevant section in a textbook and see what different objectives they include. Sometimes the objectives aren’t explicit and sometimes there are several in one lesson, but you can parse it out.

This is one lesson in the McDougall Littel Algebra I textbook. As I hope you can see from the photograph there are many ideas on just the first few pages of the lesson.

textbook 3 edited  textbook 2 edited

 I would list the objectives as:
-I will identify the parts of an equation in slope-intercept form.
-I will graph a line given the slope and y-intercept.
-I will rewrite equations in slope-intercept form.
-I will graph real-life functions using the slope and y-intercept.

This might be four days of lessons, depending on the student. All the objectives seem to be leading to standard 8.F.5. but only the last one seems directly connected: “Describe qualititatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.” It usually takes many standards to reach an objective, and one objective might be a part of several different standards.

One last thing to be ready for – I have found that there are usually at least 150 objectives in a single grade level. That is because the objectives should be bite-sized, something you can explain in less than 7 minutes. Objectives should also be actionable, which means you should be able to ask your son a question or give your son a problem to see if he has mastered the objective.

Hope this is helpful! It would be wonderful to see some examples of how someone has broken down a standard into smaller objectives in the comments!

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