One step forward, two steps back.

Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), an initiative coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), was initiated in June 2009 and released to the public in June 2010.
The reason for these new standards, broadly speaking, were;
  • Currently, every state has its own set of academic standards, meaning public educated students are learning different content at different rates.
  • All students must be prepared to compete with not only their American peers in the next state, but with students around the world.

I will be teaching Grade 4 English class, using the following Common Core State Standards for ELA.

Conventions of Standard English: Fluency: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.4.4 “Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.”

Three proficiencies students will achieve to meet this standard are;

Why these Standards?

I chose these standards because if students can read, speak and write correctly then it gives them the mental schemas or templates that help make sense of all the details of texts and all the knowledge they contain.

“The words know and understand are not synonyms. A student can have an accurate and thorough knowledge of something without understanding why the knowledge is justified, what the knowledge means, or what can be done with that knowledge.”
Wiggins and McTighe, 1999,UbD Handbook

Numerous studies show that students not reading well by the middle of elementary school do not have a bright future.

“Children who aren’t reading successfully by fourth grade are on the high school dropout track, putting them at an increased risk for poverty as an adult. “
Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Backward Planning.

Backward design, also called backward planning or backward mapping, is a process that educators use to design learning experiences and instructional techniques to achieve specific learning goals. In Understanding by Design and backward planning, the learning outcome goals are at the front of the teachers mind when planning instruction.

Often it looks like this

  1. Look at standard(s).
  2. Make a list of the skills, concepts, and knowledge kids need to learn.
  3. Next, design the final assessment/project where students will demonstrate understanding to mastery of these skills, concepts, knowledge.
  4. Then, create a set of lessons that lead up to that end.
  5. Once you’ve done this, reflect on the set of lessons, making sure all the skills, concepts, and knowledge for student success with the end assessment are being taught.

In the words of Jay McTigue and Grant Wiggins “our conception is that curriculum should be framed and developed in terms of worthy outputs; i.e., desired performances by the learner, not simply as a listing of content inputs. ”

Teaching the Unit.

Using the Understanding by Design (UbD) Planner, my backward planned lesson plan looks something like this.

Stage 1 Desired Results


Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.



Students will be able to independently use their learning to…

  • Perform the “Fall is Here” play, reading fluently with accuracy and expression.
  • Identify words that appeal to the senses.
  • Use their five senses to make observations about the world around them.
  • Use technology (iPad) to record and publish their writing.
  • Be able to work effectively in cooperative groups.
  • Be able to write fluent and accurate sentences.



Students will understand that…


There are seasons because the earth revolves and that life goes through a process of change.


How many seasons are there in Japan?

Why are there seasons?

What do does Fall feel like?

How can we become more fluent readers?

How can we use our senses to help us make observations?

How do authors use sensory words to help us better understand the text?

How can we use details in our writing?

Why do we publish our writing?


Students will know…

That there are four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.

What the five senses are.

What a play (or reader’s theater) is so that they know when it is their turn to read.







Students will be skilled at…                                      

Working in groups (to write about fall), using their observational skills.

Using technology to publish writing.

Stage 2 – Evidence
Evaluative Criteria Assessment Evidence
Fall is Here Readers Theater.docx
Fall is Here Readers Theater Rubric.docx
Fall Writing Rubric.docx
Independent Practice Rubric.docx

The first assessment will be during the play performance, as the teacher will be able to judge students’ fluency, accuracy, expression, social skills, and imagination using the attached Fall is Here Readers Theater Rubric.

The second assessment will be the final digital version of the students’ writing about fall. The final writing product can be assessed using the attached Fall Writing Rubric.

The third assessment will be the individual practice where students are responsible for writing an exit ticket on a post-it note or a piece of paper. This exit ticket will have students write at least two complete sentences. The first sentence should tell what the students’ favorite sense is, and the second sentence should tell how they can use that sense to identify the season. This independent work will be assessed using the Independent Practice Rubric.

During this practice, the teacher will take notes on students’ fluency, accuracy, and expression.



The first formative assessment will be when students are rehearsing for the play. This will help the teacher give feedback to students and divide students into small groups in future lessons on those concepts.

Another formative assessment will occur when students are working in “sense” groups, making a list of how they use their assigned sense to identify the season of fall.

The last formative assessment will be during the writing process, when the teacher can take note of how students are incorporating details into their writing and guide the students when they need some help.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan
Summary of Key Learning Events and Instruction

The teacher presents the concept or skill to students.

  1. Play the Fall Song to hook students and get them engaged in the lesson.
  2. The teacher will then introduce Fall is Here Reader’s Theater to the students.
  3. Students will read it aloud together.
  4. The teacher will correct any pronunciation problems.
  5. The students will be put into groups and will be assigned roles.

Guided Practice: The activities or exercises the students will complete with teacher guidance.

  1. Students will practice their lines individually and then as a group. As students are practicing, the teacher will walk around the room observing and offering tips on fluency and expression.
  2. After students have had time to practice, each group will perform for the rest of the class.
  3. As the groups are performing, the teacher will observe, using the attached Readers Theater Rubric to evaluate each student.
  4. After the performances, students will discuss what they learned about fall.
  5. After this review, divide students up into five groups. Each group will have a sense assigned to them. You can assign roles to each student for classroom management (group leader-makes sure all students are on task, timer-keeps track of the amount of time, recorder-writes down the details that the group discusses, discussion manager-keeps discussion on task, allowing everyone to have a turn to share).
  6. Provide the recorder of each group with a clipboard, piece of paper, and pencil to write down what they have discussed.
  7. Take students outside for 15 minutes to observe fall (weather permitting) in case of bad weather this video should be viewed by the students), based on their assigned sense. As a group, record what they observe about how their specific sense relates to fall.
  8. After observing, students will come back inside and share their observations.
  9. As groups are sharing, the teacher will record their observations on the chart paper that was divided into 5 sections (1 for each sense).
  10. Students will work together to introduce the topic of fall in one sentence. Each student will then be responsible for at least one complete sentence that involves the sense they observed outside. After each student is finished with their sentence (or more), the group will write the closure.
  11. After groups are finished writing, the teacher can help each student publish the group writing using digital tools.
  12. Allow students to present their digital publishing and give feedback to each other. While the students are presenting, the teacher will assess students’ writing using the Fall Writing Rubric.

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