KIAT Book Club: Becoming a Better Teacher Ch. 3

We’re on to chapter three in Becoming a Better Teacher! The chapter itself is titled “Standards-Based Curriculum and Assessment” and begins by asking some pretty important questions: how can teachers define learning in completely different ways and grade completely differently yet still be considered following standards. How is this something that can be controlled? Essentially, the books suggests there be a standard practice for creating curriculum and presents one in this chapter.

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I find this chapter interesting because it’s all about planning and organizing; which are two things I love to do. It’s also all about curriculum as a process; reflecting on past lessons and recognizing what does and does not work.

The book lists nine steps it deems necessary for properly planning out a curriculum:

1. Elect an organizing centre.

This will be what holds the unit of study together. So something like a concept, a problem, a topic, or an issue.

2. State the rationale.

Here is why we are doing a unit. What skills and knowledge will students learn and is it relevant and important for them?

3. Describe the context and present an overview.

What grade and level are students at? What prior knowledge will they need to access in order to be successful in the unit?

4. Devise essential and guiding questions.

Essential questions were discussed in chapter one; they act as “hooks” to keep students interested and focused on material presented in the unit.

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5. Determine exit outcomes and indicators.

What will students know and be able to do at the end of the unit? This is how you will measure students success.

6. Review district, state, and national standards.

For me, these are provincial standards. Make sure you are hitting all of your curriculum outcomes and students will be where they are supposed to be in relation to their peers.

7. Devise learning opportunities.

A fancy name for creating lesson plans and activities in which the students will actually learn the desired outcomes.

8. Develop assessment opportunities.

How will you assess students’ learning in different ways? This is important as it allows us to stray away for the traditional test to view students’ growth from before the unit to after the unit.

9. Develop reflective prompts.

These allow students to think about the learning process as it’s happening. Instead of waiting until the end of the unit or the end of the year; it gives them a chance to think about what they’ve learning at the end of each day or week for example.

I enjoyed this chapter overall and it got me excited for planning. I wish I hadn’t just begun work again because I would love a nice full month off to really focus on planning the year out with some of these great ideas. It will of course now be a slower process, but it will still get done! If you want to buy the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon.

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