Back to the Future.


A Reflection on Understanding and Applying Standards.

This week I have been studying how to unpack a standard (from the Common Core State Standards), see my Prezi here and I practiced backwards mapping related to a subject (ELA) and grade level (Grade Four) see my blog post here

I also wrote SMART objectives for a standard. See my presentation here.

These activities have started to help me to understand and apply standards.

The first activity focused on unpacking standards was helpful because it provided a clear method for breaking down standards into manageable parts. In particular this video. The method explained how to isolate the concept, skills, and context of the standard in order to understand it more fully. I found unpacking standards to be a very difficult thing to do alone. However, when I discussed this project with my colleagues, for example, it helped me to clarify my understanding of how to approach the task. I think that strong content knowledge is very important in successfully unpacking standards.

The second activity was creating SMART targets for teaching a standard.

  • Specific
  • Measurable or observable
  • Attainable for the audience
  • Relevant and results oriented
  • Target to learner and desired level of learning

This method is used to help teachers focus on teaching the skills, concepts and knowledge  necessary to meet a chosen standard. I found it difficult to write these targets, although with more practice I hope it will help ensure the lessons, activities, projects, and assessments are all cohesive, whilst keeping objectives realistic and achievable for the students. I found writing targets for the R part of SMART targets to be particularly challenging, for example, my interpretation of the meaning of “Target to learner and desired level of learning” and my ability to write learning objectives could be improved.

The third project was on backwards planning, focused on establishing goals for a lesson, choosing assessment methods, and then designing activities that help students meet the goal/goals. This strategy is similar to the two mentioned above, as it helps the teacher focus on a specific learning outcome, and helps to ensure that all parts of a lesson are tailored to that and are working effectively. This was helpful to me because I can develop a clear path to creating lessons that are designed with a goal in mind. I found creating provocation / essential questions to be particularly beneficial and felt I did a good job of writing them.

Working in a bilingual PYP candidate school, good planning is very important. for the teachers to have a clear understanding of the unit helps us develop clear learning outcomes for our students. I have been aware of Understanding by Design,created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, as it very closely resembles the planning documents and practices in the PYP.

However, I feel my students would benefit from me becoming a better planner and some of the things I have learned in the past few weeks will help me do that. During my studies this week, I reflected on my practice. It is important for PYP teachers to facilitate student inquiry without overly directing the students towards their end goals. When unpacking standards and backwards planning I want to be able to set the context and let learning unfold.


Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains: The Cognitive Domain. (2016). Retrieved 12 August 2016, from


SMART (student learning) and Professional Goal Setting Form. (2014) (1st ed.). Retrieved from

BARDEN, J. (2012). Getting to the Core Superior standards Supportive school climate Successful students BIG IDEAS AND ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS (1st ed.). Santa Ana: Santa Ana Unified School district. Retrieved from

Be the sentence: An interactive language arts activity. (2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016, from

Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters – The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2016). The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved 11 August 2016, from

Introduction to Unpacking Standards :: Effective Curriculum: Engaging students with rigorous, high quality, standards-based lessons and activities. :: Digital Chalkboard. (2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016, from

Pattern writing using nouns and adjectives. (2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016, from

Verb tense time warps. (2016). Retrieved 10 August 2016, from

Wiggins., G. (2016). Authentic Education – What is a Big Idea?. Retrieved 10 August 2016, from

Alber, R. (2012). Backwards Planning Takes Thinking Ahead. Edutopia. Retrieved 11 August 2016, from

BetterLesson. (2016). BetterLesson. Retrieved 11 August 2016, from

Feeling the Fall –. (2016). Retrieved 11 August 2016, from

McTighe, J. (2012). Common Core Big Idea 4: Map Backward From Intended Results. Edutopia. Retrieved 11 August 2016, from

McTighe, J. (2016). Downloads « McTighe & Associates. Retrieved 11 August 2016, from





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