Content Standards for Curriculum and Instruction in Grades K-6: Part 2
Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
This is the second part of a two part article intended to familiarize the beginning teacher with educational standards and objectives and how to plan content literacy (i.e., reading, writing, listening, discussion, and presenting activities infused into social studies, science, language arts, and math) curriculum, instruction, and assessment that aligns with them. It is not the aim of this article to train beginning teachers how to follow a teaching manual or textbook, but instead, to give them the background and tools to think, create, develop, and design their own literacy-based content curriculum and instruction. The following subsections are a continuation of explanation and description for applying Bloom's Taxonomy (1956) in creating educational objectives within the cognitive domain of student understanding and subsequent performance.
Analysis Level (make inferences)
At the analysis level of cognitive thought, elementary students are prompted to go beyond the content literacy information that they have studied in order to draw conclusions or make inferences. When planning for content literacy instruction, teachers can use the following action words to create their student objectives, students will: compare and contrast, analyze, break down, explain why, or show how. For example, for the topic unit on the American Revolutionary War, analysis level of thinking and doing could be the following: Students will explain why the Revolutionary War was either inevitable or not, compare and contrast the life of a slave and a slave master in tidewater Virginia at the time of the American Revolution, or compare two books about the American Revolution.
Synthesis Level (create)
For the synthesis level of cognitive thought, elementary students are challenged to create an original product that did not exist before, at least not for the students, that is based on the content literacy material studied. When planning for literacy instruction, teachers can use the following action words to develop their student objectives, students will: create, build, develop, compose, perform, or produce. For example, for the topic unit on the American Revolutionary War, synthesis level of thinking and doing could be the following, Students will: develop an argument why the American Revolution succeeded; develop original stories of life in Boston during the second half of the 18th century; compose an original song lyric expressing some aspect of life in the Revolutionary War period; or develop an original story about slavery at the time of the American Revolution.
Evaluation Level (judge or criticize)
At the evaluation level of cognitive thought, elementary students are prompted to make a judgment about the worth or merit of two or more plausible alternatives, select the preferred alternative, and defend their decision using a combination of logical argument supported by evidence based on the content literacy material studied. When planning for literacy instruction, elementary teachers can use the following action words to create their student objectives. Students will defend or reject, develop and critique, judge, state or support a position, or justify. For example, for the topic unit on the American Revolutionary War, evaluation level of thinking and doing could be as follows: Students will defend or reject the position that Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of slavery, or argue the loyalist or patriot position in a letter to the editor written to a newspaper in the year 1776.
Planning for Content Literacy Assessment Using Standards and Objectives
Even though standards are general, broad-based goals that apply to most content areas of teaching for which the standards are developed, the accompanying objectives are not always applicable to the lesson teachers may want to teach; therefore, the previous subsections have covered how to develop content literacy objectives. In review, when students demonstrate that they understand the objectives, they are showing that they have learned a skill, in other words, the skill is the result of the objective that the teacher created. Teachers do not create "skills" they create objectives. In order to assess and evaluate, or in other words planning for content literacy instruction and "assessment," it is important to learn how to develop the objectives in such a way that the teacher will be able to easily "assess" students' progress in learning or acquiring, and demonstrating the objective. The following subsections will cover how to further develop the objectives to insure assessment can be applied to elementary student learning using what is known as the ABCDs of writing assessment-based student objectives.
"A" stands for the "audience" of the objective or who is doing the learning. Some examples are as follows:
• "Fifth-grade" students will...
• "Social Studies" students will...
• "Science" students will...
• "Math" students will...
The "B" stands for the "behavior" part of the objective and is the concrete, observable action on the part of the student or audience member that illustrates the nature of the learning. An example could be as follows:
Social studies students will demonstrate understanding of either the loyalist or patriot position by "composing" a letter to the editor from either the loyalist or patriot's perspective written to a newspaper in the year 1776.
"C" stands for the "condition" part of the learning objective. This statement is included when special circumstances are present that may affect student performance (if there is none, leave it out). Some examples could include the following:
• "Using the outline map" provided...
• "Using class notes"...
• "Given an example essay"...
The "D" stands for the "degree" part of the learning objective. The degree statement describes the criteria or qualifiers that will be used by the teacher to determine whether the students have achieved the instructional objective. Some examples of quantification criteria could include the following:
• ...achieving 7 out of 10 correct.
• ...with 75 % accuracy.
• ...using 10 of the unit's vocabulary.
The "degree" can also be similar in content to a scoring rubric with qualification parameters. It determines the form and substance of the student's product while also lending guidance to students in preparing the assignment. Some examples of qualification criteria could include the following:
• Students' reports will be judged on the accuracy of factual statements, relevance to the topic, use of graphics to illustrate the topic, and writing mechanics.
• Students' essays will be scored on whether they describe three or more facts about social life during the American Colonial period.
• When given a list of facts about the American Colonial period in 1775, fifth grade students will be able to identify them on an exam and match each fact with a statement that identifies it with 80% accuracy.
It is crucial for teacher to create words that describe observable actions on the part of the students, examples could include the following: the second grade students will identify, create, express, rewrite, develop, draw, sort, or describe. Once these statements have been developed, then the teachers can develop the "degree" of competency that they are assessing.
The purpose of this two part article was to familiarize the beginning teacher with educational standards and objectives and how to plan content literacy curriculum, instruction, and assessment that aligns with them. It was not the aim of this article to train beginning teachers how to follow a teaching manual or textbook, but instead, to give them the background and tools necessary to think, create, develop, and design their own literacy-based content curriculum and instruction.
About Author / Additional Info:
Timothy G. Weih is an associate professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, USA, and teaches elementary teaching methods courses.