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Do This Before Creating Learning Goal Scales!

Of all the WOW! moments in my career, I imagine watching my students master their learning standards was more than likely the most gratifying! (Just so you know, I'll probably say this in some form almost each time I share, but I feel so immensely proud when I am part of what I think is tremendous learning growth for our children! It's like all these events accentuate our love for and the breath derived from our passion for teaching and learning.)

Anyhoo, my task was to get my students to be able to understand what the standard they were learning meant. For me, this involved a demonstration of evidence that they "got it" and could attach it to something much bigger. Hence, learning standard deconstruction was born. So, let's take a look at what it is, how it's done, along with what exactly is so awesome about it!

There are 4 steps to this process:

1.Rewriting the learning standard in a meaningful way

2. Brainstorming academic vocabulary and skills necessary to reach the standard

3. Conceptualizing examples of student evidence

4. Making larger connections

Step 1: Rewriting the Standard

1. Prior to creating your learning goal scale, take a large piece of paper and place it on each set of student desks. I call this a "table top".

2. In the middle of the table top, student groups write the state standard they will be working on. (I usually have a basket of writing utensils,, such as markers, etc. on each table.)

3. With guidance, students will circle each word or phrase they do not understand. (I have a few models to share, yet they are in more advanced stages - I will be doing this with first graders and will post.)

4. Students then draw arrows stemming from the words and/or phrases they circled. At the base of each arrow, students change the words and/or phrases into similar synonyms or like phrases they understand more clearly. The student groups work together to repeat this process until they have executed the task for all circled parts of the standard.

5. Together, they reread the standard, replacing misunderstood text with the information they have written.

6. Students make a team decision, assessing if the new standard makes sense to them or if they need to make additional tweaks.

7. Once they are confident of their final piece, a student group author rewrites the entire standard they have created above the original text, on their table top.

Step 2: Prior Learning Skills and Academic Knowledge

You know those level 2 skills and the academic vocabulary the students need to master in order to reach their learning target? Many times, we contemplate what skills and vocabulary our students should know and place the information in the level 2 area of the scale, ourselves.

In this part of the activity, our students make the decisions about what information is a non-negotiable must know first for Level 2!

1. Students consider what prior skills they would need to be really good at to reach the standard. For example, if the standard involves inferencing as related to fiction, perhaps the students might decide they would need to be able to read, have a strong understanding of the text they are reading, be good at taking guesses/making predictions, have a grasp on the setting, characters, etc., be good at analyzing how one event leads to another or is reactive of another, understand plot, indirect characterization, dialogue...

2. Students then choose an area of their table top (a corner) to list each skill they decide is paramount to the execution of their goal. They will label the corner with the title Academic Skills.

3. Similar to number 1 in this part of the task, students determine what academic vocabulary they must know at a rigorous level- to read , write, connect, and so on in order to master the goal. Since this involves academic vocabulary, the students are required to speak and convey usage of these words throughout the articulation and execution of the entire task in a meaningful manner. (Using the title of the challenge, Standards' Deconstruction is highly important because they have to know what a standard is, what it means to deconstruct, and guess what? Deconstruct is a word that is many times used in the compositional area of our state assessments!)

4. The group will write the information in a new corner of their table top- labeling it Academic Vocabulary.

Step 3: Student Evidence

Formative data is really the bedrock of our instruction. Without it, we simply would not know if our kids "got it" and that makes moving on dangerous territory. This piece of the activity allows the students to make decisions about what they will provide as evidence of their learning.

1. The students will discuss what specific types of evidence they will create as a product of evidentiary support for their mastering the standard. They will title another corner of their table top- Student evidence- and list each piece of possible evidence the teacher might see to prove they have mastered the standard.

Step 4: Connections at Large

This part of the activity calls for our students to think more deeply about the standard and what they have learned. It is the level 4 part of their learning goal scale.

1. Students hypothesize what evidence they might create to demonstrate that they went beyond the standard and created something new.

For example, if the standard was inferencing, perhaps a students constructed the plot of a mystery, or completed a detailed character sketch, abound with indirect examples from the text to support his/her inferences.

There you have it: Standards' Deconstruction! This is more fun than I can construe to you and the kids become masters of the standards! It's also great when your administrator does a walk through and asks your students, "What are you learning today?" or "What standard are you working on?"

Let the magic happen!

What Next, You Ask?

Once the entire task is completed, you can display each table top throughout your classroom and engage the students in a gallery walk of their work!

I've done it, whereas my students voted on the skills from each part of the table tops, having to provide support as to why they think what they've chosen is the strongest. From there, we used our information to build our learning goal scales.

Good luck and happy deconstructing!

Theresa Staley


"We are all here to make a difference, so let's do just that."

This blog is created to share my ideas and inspiration with fellow educators and our world.

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