Across the country, a lot of teachers are realigning unit plans to the Common Core standards. There is a lot of pioneering work going on, in the sense that teachers are articulating their intentions in perhaps different ways than they’ve ever done it before.
As teachers flesh out their new units and the transparent connections between unit elements, I wanted to share the appraisal process I’ve been using with teachers recently. I call it C.L.E.A.R.
It asks teachers to look at their new unit plans through several lenses:
- CLARITY: When others look at your unit, do they interpret it the way you intend?
- LIVELINESS: Is the instruction lively and dynamic?
- EVIDENCE: Do the assessments in your unit prove that students have mastered the skills?
- ALIGNMENT: Is there a balance between standards, content, skills, and assessments?*
- ROBUSTNESS: Compared to your previous unit, is the new one Robust, Hearty, and Strong?
Being CLEAR when unit planning is essential to the big “C’s” of curriculum work: Conversation, Collaboration, Consensus...being CLEAR offers opportunities for transparency, continued curriculum conversation, and natural evolution of curriculum from this point forward.
Dated practices, old methods, ancient worksheets and tests are all but extinct in the 21st Century. And, while the appraisal process doesn’t directly mention college and career readiness, the alignment piece (through the standards) should be mindful of College and Career Capacities and the Standards for Mathematical Practice, as those documents are central to those content areas and inform the standards. Curriculum is ALIVE, or it should be.
So take this as a sort of “Curriculum Defibrillation.” This is an opportunity to breathe new life into your Instructional Design, an opportunity to be CLEAR.
*just a quick note about alignment:
The language of the standard(s) should inform the content and skills, with the assessments measuring those skills. The language should be similar across the board. For instance, if a student is being asked to explain something orally as a skill, but the assessment is a written task, the written task wasn’t taught or practiced. The skills could scaffold so that the oral and written are both taught and practiced, but only the written is assessed. Additionally, unit plans should have a “visual congruence” about them, too: a quick look that allows someone to perceive that the unit is mostly in alignment. Giveaways that it might not be aligned include: different language between the elements, too many standards, not enough skills defined in terms of standards, essential questions and big ideas that don’t seem to match at first glance, and inappropriate amounts of time for a particular unit based on what’s included in the unit.