One thing to really ensure that you nail the standards is to start with them. Don’t start with the methodology (as many educators do), start with the language arts standard, figure out the assessment and then determine how you will teach it. This is how you really lock in and make sure you hit your academic objective dead on.
For example, most teachers start with the methodology (i.e. they are going to teach a book like Dracula) and then they figure out what they are going to teach (i.e. they’ll teach symbolism) and then they figure out how to assess (i.e. I’ll give a quiz or project on symbolism.) As a Professor of Secondary Methodology in the Language Arts at Loyola Marymount University, I had to learn to teach teachers that when you teach kids in this manner, it’s not really the ideal way to make sure that you, as the educator, are drilling the core content standards the way you ought to.
Best to go…
This way you will know what you are teaching and you will know how you will measure whether or not you successfully taught it before you determine the materials you will use to do the teaching. (And this is why the standards are not text specific — more on that in a minute.)
Let’s look at it…
1. Decide to teach CA Language Arts Standards 3.7 (10th grade): Recognizing and Understanding the Significance of Symbolism in a text.
2. Have students identify, re-create (through a drawing, clip art, magazine pictures, and so on) and present a symbol from the text via the original creation of an independent poster board project.
3. Read Chapters 1 – 4 in Dracula and utilize this material as the basis for the assignment on symbolism.
Or you can use Twilight. Or you can use Monster. Or you can use Speak, The Outsiders or Freak the Mighty.
This is why the standards are, once again, not text specific. Find a book that engages your students and the standards can be a very valuable tool to make sure that you are focused like a laser on real classroom objectives while teaching high interest literature at the same time.
Oh how I wish someone had taught this to me when I first became a teacher. It’s made my life so much easier — and my classroom practice so much more effective.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, the standards are, for me, like a northern star, my unwavering compass as I try all kinds of crazy, far-reaching stuff to stretch my students’ minds.