SPU’s Curriculum and Instruction program standard three, curriculum, asks that teachers provide knowledge and skills that bring academic subjects to life and are aligned with state content standards. When teaching state content standards, one must consider pre-purchased curriculum, and district sequencing guides advising what should be taught when. Standards can provide or act as a catalyst for enduring understandings and essential questions, helping bring academic subjects to life for students. Sequencing guides give an overall picture of the academic year. This aerial view may provide avenues of integration between topics. Integration frees up class time; this gives students time for exploration and discovery, which leads to students controlling their own learning.
In the past I have collected a portfolio of student artifacts upon which I base a student’s grades. However, these assessments do not always demonstrate a student’s ability to transfer his or her knowledge of understanding to different scenarios. Another factor for which I need to consider, assessments should “vary in terms of scope” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 152). Assessments provide valuable information for teachers and students in the perform-feedback-revise-perform cycle of learning (Wiggins & McTighe, p. 154 & 192). Without varying forms of assessment, we do not know where student understanding and misunderstanding of concepts lay based upon rubrics designed for concept mastery (Wigging & McTighe, p. 169). As I go forward with planning, I need to develop or borrow assessments where students’ are able to demonstrate transferability of concepts. Many assessments that I use are of district or curriculum origin. I feel if I become better at documenting observations used as formative assessments, portfolios of student artifacts will be more complete with assessments of varying scope. These formative types of assessments are unobtrusive, flexible and spur of the moment, depending upon different student abilities (Marzano, 2010, p. 24). Documenting student knowledge with a photo or video may be an easy way to create a collection of assessment pieces. I do agree with Wiggins’s and McTighe’s comment that grades and/or scores earned by students are easily justified to students and families when a portfolio of student work used as assessment pieces is available for reference (pp.151-152).
Curriculum from a backwards design approach places assessment of student learning based upon content standards as the driving force of a unit or lesson (Parkay, Hass, & Anctil, 2010, p. 255, Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 309). Content standards allow for equity in education between classrooms, schools, districts, and state (Parkay et al., p. 253). If the same content standards are used between the above mentioned entities, consistent scoring rubrics can be generated for student self assessment promoting educational equity (Marshall, 2010, p. 286). Equitable standards and assessment equip students with the knowledge of what they are to learn and how they are to demonstrate their learning.
Hass states that “the student is the major untapped resource in curriculum planning” (Parkay, Hass, & Anctil, 2010, p. 258). When students have a learning goal and are aware of how they will be assessed, they will develop their own curricular goals (Parkay, et al., p. 258). Once student learning goals, content assessments, and scoring rubrics are established, the activities to achieve student understanding can be planned. In order to engage students in learning, educators need to know students, what knowledge they bring, and where their interests lie, so that student learning and student curriculum goals head in the same direction as the teachers’ curriculum goals (Parkay, et al., p. 258, Hass in Parkay, et al., 2010, pp. 276-277).
The six facets of understanding address students’ abilities to explain, interpret, apply, see from others’ perspectives, empathize, and reflect upon a concept (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 162). In kindergarten, I have used backward design and assessments to plan a unit; however, I have not used the six facets of understanding when pondering student artifacts to represent assessment pieces. I have used student self assessment based upon student friendly rubrics for some performance based skills, such as drawing a picture depicting a worm’s habitat. Students are more motivated to produce at standard work when provided with a rubric and samples against which they can self assess (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 180, Brookhart, Andolina, Zuza, & Furman, 2004, p. 225).
For this reason, I have taken existing math curriculum and broken lesson sequencing guides into a progression which considers kindergartners’ developmental abilities and needs in number recognition and understanding of one to one correspondence when counting. Please see the attached artifacts of Numbers 0 to 10 Math Unit and number journal pages whose links are listed below. Creating this progression gives students the opportunity to practice skills needed as they gain an ability to recognize and write numbers and count with one to one correspondence groups of up to ten objects from a larger group. Students are encouraged to self assess against teacher constructed samples or to collaborate with peers during counting practice and number writing.
Number Journal – 0
Number Journal – 1
Number Journal – 2
Number Journal – 3
Number Journal – 4
Number Journal – 5
Number Journal – 6
Number Journal – 7
Number Journal – 8
Number Journal – 9
Number Journal – 10