Last school year the 7th grade team worked to determine essential standards for the grade. When it comes to intervening with students we need to have a focus, so we worked to determine which standards were essential in 7th grade. For this process we started by unpacking the standards and determining what we called "essential understandings". Basically we were answer the questions, "What do we want students to remember after we teach this standard?" Turns out it is actually a great question and shifts the focus from what students need to know how to do (procedures) to big ideas and understandings they need to have. For example:
For example, for the standard 7.NS.A.1.B
Show that a number and its opposite have a sum of 0 (are additive inverses). Interpret sums of rational numbers by describing real-world contexts.
Some things students need to remember are
- the definition of “additive inverse” and how it can be used to add integers.
- The difference between adding +17 and adding -17
- The significance of a negative quantity and how to represent it.
After unpacking all of the standards we looked at 3 criteria to help us determine which standards are essential:
Now that we have our essential standards determined, our goal for this year is to create what we are calling an Essential Standard Tracker for each chapter. This is part of our PLC goals for this year. We are using Tim Kanold's Mathematics PLC at Work resources to help us.
There was no way to get a good screen shot so you could read the words, but the headings are:
- Description of Standard (in student friendly terms)
- Description of Proficiency (this one is an important discussion)
- Vocab and Pre-requisites
- When Taught (which is a link to our pacing guide which I will write about next)
- And then some common formative and summative information
Again, the focus of this document is the essential standards. We still teach all of the standards but for interventions identifying the vocab and prerequisites for the standards with endurance, leverage, and readiness for the next level is where we want to focus our time. If we can front load these skills and help strengthen students background knowledge before we reach that standard in class, they are much more likely to engage in work we do in class.
As part of our PLC process this year we are creating pacing guides. Honestly, we already had this information in different formats and different places and I questioned the need to copy and paste things into a different format. What I found however, was that when we put in together in one place we started to notice areas that needed improvement. For example, some targets were too general and spanned several days. We relooked at our learning targets and made them more specific to that lesson. We also added success criteria. I love that part and am excited to see how it goes in the classrooms.
Here is what the pacing guide looks like at a glance:
And here is a close up of one of the learning targets:
I really think the success criteria is going to help teachers with the close of the lesson and help students be more reflective on their progress with the concepts.
After we had the pacing guide for the chapter created I made a pacing guide for the intervention course. I thought it would be overwhelming, but our interventions are every other day. So with an 18 day unit I only had 9 days to plan for the intervention work. Suddenly an overwhelming task seemed much more reasonable.
The goal for the year is for the 7th grade team to continue creating pacing guides for each chapter. Then I will use that to create the pacing guides for the intervention course. In Unit 1 of Math Investigations (the name we have given the course) we will work on chapter 1 concepts and chapter 2 prerequisites. Then in Unit 2, when the class is on chapter 2, we will work on chapter 2 concepts and chapter 3 prerequisites.
The tricky part will be to stay ahead on our essential standards trackers and pacing guides so that when I create each intervention unit, we have the next chapter for math class already mapped out in terms of the essential standards.
In my next post I will discuss my process for selecting activities and planning for work with students.