I thought this unit of module five was very informative. It was the first time I felt that we were really getting into the nitty gritty of everyday teaching. Clearly, not as much as when actually completing clinicals, but practicing activities that we will be completing on our own when we’re actually Teachers in the real world. So, I wanted to take advantage of this practice and working on something that I haven’t in my experience before – writing.
I selected a writing topic because I have never designed a writing class using Common Core Standards. In fact, the most common writing classes that I have had to design focus on a fiction, creativity, and fun, and generally way more geared towards using a specific grammar point. I thought this would be great practice to think of lessons that address the different elements taught in fourth grade to write an opinion piece instead of say, using the past tense when describing a memory.
So below is the standard that I have been exploring further.
“Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information” (English Language Arts Standards).
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.A – Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.B – Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.C – Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.D – Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Reflections on Unpacking a Standard
In the beginning of this unit, I immediately felt a little bit like being dropped into the deep end. Though I have a lot of experience planning objectives and lessons to meet those goals, it isn’t always easy to break down standards into succinct ways that you can then map your lessons around. There are a lot of main ideas that we need to include and it can be overwhelming especially when you consider how much time you have available to teach over the course of the year.
While I was thinking of lessons to incorporate and achieve the goals that were in the Unit/Standard that I was attempting to break down, I don’t really know how my lessons would completely fit into the school schedule as I don’t have any idea how many periods per week I would have to dedicate to writing lessons that specifically meet those goals. That’s why, in the lessons I hoped to teach, I tried to think of ideas that could be interdisciplinary and work on multiple skills at one time.
Additionally, as in unpacking the standard with the skills that need to be taught (verbs) and the big ideas (nouns), there’s a whole lot hidden in that standard! For example, in the standard two skills include students writing pieces and supporting opinions. To me, while that sounds not so difficult, there is clearly a lot more packed in there. Students will need practice with introducing topics, stating opinions, thinking of and providing concrete reasons and information to support their ideas, etc. So this activity really showed me how much is really involved in even just one “itty bitty” standard.
Reflections on Standards and Backwards Mapping
I see VERY CLEARLY how much backwards mapping can really help. I think breaking standards/objectives/assessments down into these more achievable and measurable chunks make it easier to plan lessons (and not freak out!). While there is a lot teach in each of these standards, it has to be achievable in the time we have, right? So, we know it’s doable, and this is a great way to help me focus my lessons more and make sure I’m hitting all of the different skills and big ideas that I need to hit over a series of lessons.
For example, in this standard specifically, there are a lot of different elements that the students will need to practice and develop in order to really understand and eventually produce their own strong work, so it’s good for me to think about all of these different goals across subjects. That way, I could propose a writing piece on a Social Studies topic that has students writing an opinion (i.e. Is recycling a good thing?)
Reflections on Objectives for Students
Though I enjoyed writing the objectives for students, I struggled with making the words specific enough to my overall plans. Maybe I should have shown more examples of how I would achieve these goals instead of just stating the objectives themselves. Overall, I guess I found this activity easier than the others but maybe I misunderstood the activity (I thought the goal was to simply identify objectives, and only do that). I also thought I added additional reasons how these goals addressed a lot of different elements (the human dimension, critical thinking, creative thinking, etc.) in more further addressing how these objectives were SMART.
For the most part, I was attempting hit the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (i.e. starting with identifying topics and reasons in other pieces, communicating those topics and reasons to the class and the teacher, eventually producing and creating their own work). I find it difficult sometimes to simply state objectives and somehow convey my specific goals without supporting it through my lesson plan. In activities such as this one, I have a lesson or lessons planned in my head and think about how I could describe that lesson through the terminology recommended in the required materials.
Reflections on Everything
I found the unit to be very helpful and pretty informative. I was excited to work on each part myself and to start honing in on more specific Teacher skills. I am eager to continue with this module and refine each of the skills related to planning.
English Language Arts Standards » Writing » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2016, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/4/
Clark, D.R. (January 12, 2015). Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html
Effective Use of Performance Objectives for Learning and Assessment (For Use With Fink’s and Bloom’s Taxonomies). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ccoe.rbhs.rutgers.edu/forms/EffectiveUseofLearningObjectives.pdf