To have a truly standards-driven classroom, teachers need to do more than think about the standards when planning their lessons and experiences for students.

Most school curricula are aligned to the standards students must meet, but teachers may need some guidance to achieve a genuinely standards-driven classroom. In “The Essentials for Standards-Driven Classrooms,” authors Carla Moore, Michael D. Toth, and Robert J. Marzano report many teachers had not used standards to plan their lessons. “Instead they often relied on the curriculum and other resources to do the planning for them, assuming that those resources aligned,” they wrote. But it was found that the intent of the standard was often missed as the curriculum and resources did not fully align.

Mapping out a plan is just the first step in creating a standards-driven classroom. The following tips can guide educators in implementing standards in an effective way.

1. Define the Lesson to be Learned

standards-driven classroomUse the standards to center the lesson to be taught, making sure the goals of the standard align with the objective of the lesson. It is important to plan what must be done by the students to meet the standard. The objectives set forth in the lesson plan must ensure that the students’ achievements can be seen and demonstrated throughout the lesson. Busy work and activities focused on rote memorization of facts should not be a part of a truly standards-driven classroom.

2. Create Student Accountability

Another suggestion for developing a standards-driven classroom is to shift responsibility for from the teacher to the student. Using the theory behind Bloom’s Taxonomy, students are given an assignment outlined so that they know what they are to learn, the resources they need to achieve learning, and the activities they can perform to demonstrate what they have learned. Claire Varner, a middle school teacher, wrote in her blog that her use of a capacity matrix (which lists standards, levels of understanding, and assignments) proved to be an effective strategy. “When a student doesn’t meet the standard, they know why and can point out what they need to do to improve.”

3. Clarify Rules and Expectations

standards-driven classroomJust as teachers establish behavioral rules for students to follow, they must also clarify expectations for a standards-driven classroom. The Marzano Center’s “Essentials for Achieving Rigor” in a standards-driven classroom emphasize that the teacher must be aware when students are, and are not, adhering to the rules established. If the teacher finds that students are not attentive to the lesson, they must employ strategies to engage them. The standards-driven classroom is most effective if the teacher can enable students to achieve the high levels of learning expected of them and meet the standard set, using the expectations and procedures established for learning.

Aligning every experience students have in your classroom in a very intentional way is the path to a standards-driven classroom. When you start looking at teaching, learning, and assessment through the standards lens, your classroom will become aligned to standards in an authentic way.

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