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Standard S: Subject Matter and Curriciulm Goals

Teacher candidates positively impact student learning that is:

S1.   Content driven. All students develop understanding and problem-solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written and oral communication, and technology.

S2.   Aligned with curriculum standards and outcomes. All students know the learning targets and their progress toward meeting them.

S3.   Integrated across content areas. All students learn subject matter content that integrates mathematical, scientific, and aesthetic reasoning.

My understanding of Standard S: Teacher candidates must positively impact student academic development and problem solving skills within all academic content areas, such as reading, writing, social studies, math, science, fine arts, and technology.  These same content areas must be aligned with state learning goals and curriculum standards.  All goals and students progress towards meeting these goals should be communicated to students and their families throughout the school year.

Meta-Reflection for Standard S

Content driven teaching should be meaningful and aligned to district and state leaning goals.  It should also be exciting yet challenging.  Doug Lemov states, “There is no such thing as boring content.  In the hands of a great teacher who can find the way in, the material students need to master to succeed and grow is exciting, interesting, and inspiring, even if as teachers we doubt that we can make it so.” (Lemov, 2010)  In order to create engaging, meaningful lessons each time, I structure all of my classroom lessons around the 5 E’s of Constructivism: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

My student based evidence for Standard S, illustrates a unit plan based on Native Americans within the United States.  The final assessment for this unit is the competency based assessment (CBA) titled, Humans and the Environment.  It is a PowerPoint students create in class.  To prepare, all students were a part of a region in which they became an “expert” as well as studying the Pacific Northwest region.

Lemov, D. (2010). Teach Like A Champion. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

S1: Content drivenAnswer how you develop student understanding thorough your teaching.

In this multi-grade classroom (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade) student understanding was developed by unfolding and presenting a map of the United States and the Native Americans that resided within the specific regions of our country, reading texts specific to students’ assigned region, exploring websites, documenting their discoveries, and then creating diorama, specific to their region.  The map I presented to my students, which was systematically unfolded to maximize effect, allowed them to explore their curiosity as it was revealed.  The students were guided in a discussion of specific regions of the United States, examining their climate and geographical features along the way.  Students were then asked to create a map of their in order to develop their own understanding.  As students worked on their maps, they were asked about what they “know” about Native Americans so far.  They were encouraged to “wonder”.  Each group was assigned a region: Northeast, Great Plains, Southwest, and Arctic, and then allowed to gather text specific information.  Each student received a packet to document their discoveries and list any questions they may have as they evaluated difference resources.  Once their packets were complete, each group shared their information on a chart. Afterwards, students were able to spend time in the computer lab accessing additional research.  Students listed information on their packets that they used for their text-based research and got to explore their interests even further when they were done.  By incorporating maps, graphic organizers, text and technology based research, then building a diorama based on their specific region, students were able to develop an understanding about Native Americans within the United States as well as practice problem-solving techniques when researching and presenting information about their expert region.  Once the expert study commenced, all students then became experts about the Pacific Northwest region and the Native American tribes that were common to the area.  They followed the same research schedule as they did with their expert region except they did not build a diorama.

Example of chart

Example of region map

Organizer for region information

Chart detailing region information

The websites included:

Student Web-site with Regional Connections

Student web site includes Arctic Nations

Student-produced Chart of US Tribes


Images from Library of Congress

Images from Wikimedia of US Tribes

Regional Map of the United States

Following their research, each region group was able to build a diorama reflecting their region and what they learned were key elements of that region.

The Arctic Region 

The Southwest Region  

The Northeast Region

The Plains Region

S2. Aligned with curriculum standards and outcomesTell how you share the learning targets with your students.

In my current academic community, learning targets are shared with students orally and in writing.  This occurs on a daily basis whether it is at the beginning of  a social studies unit or introducing the daily direct instruction in math.  Before any instruction is given, students know what they will be taught, what they are responsible for learning, and why it’s important.  By sharing student learning targets, students know what they are going to be engaged in, exploring, and also evaluated.  In an email home, this information is also shared with parents at the beginning of a new unit study.  They are encouraged to ask any questions they or their child may have or share any resources they may have access to.

At the beginning of this unit study, students were verbally given the following information:

  • The focus of the CBA (Humans and the Environment)
  • Why the CBA is important
  • How it is relevant to their lives

Humans and the Environment CBA

Students were given a timeline of what lessons/activity focus to expect each time we met to work on this particular unit (every Friday).  It also outlined our scheduled library/computer lab research time.  On the day of the lesson, I shared with students our timeline and my expected outcome of that days’ activity.  For example, on Friday, March 25th, at 3:15PM, I expected all students have their region diorama completed. 

 Region  Study Objectives and Timeline

Region Study CBA Info

Again, all information about the CBA, the activities supporting the CBA, and our timeline was shared with parents via email.

Furthermore, I ensured that the lesson was aligned with curriculum standards and outcomes on the state and local level.  In this case, Native American history has connections with the third grade geography GLE (grade level expectation) 3.2.1 as well as the third grade social studies GLE 5.2.2 and 5.4.1.

The final outcome of the Native American region study was the CBA – Humans and the Environment.  Once students collected all of their information, they then built a Power Point presentation comparing their Native American expert region to the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest.  Their formal assessment was based on the Elementary – Humans and the Environment CBA Rubric.  The close of our unit study was celebrated with each student sharing their presentation with classmates and family members after school.

S3. Integrated across content areasAnswer how students demonstrate their learning using reading, written and oral communication, and technology.

 Finally, students were able to demonstrate their learning within this study unit via fine arts (diorama creation), via writing (their CBA region study Power Point), via reading (their text and technology based research) and via their presentations to classmates and parents.  Assessments, formal and informal were based on the CBA rubric as well as the completion of these projects.

Attached are samples of student created Power Point presentations.

Northeast Northwest Third Grade

South West Fourth Grade

Plains Indians Second Grade

Northeast Northwest Third Grade

Arctic Fourth Grade

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