Day to day teaching becomes habitual. Plan, teach, assess. Planning learning experiences can or cannot take time but planning depends on standards and how a teacher wants students to experience them. Teaching involves explicit activities that helps students access the standards. Assessment is determining to what degree students learned the standard and then providing intervention or enrichment. All classroom events are predicated on standards. More specifically the verb within a standard.
Verb is the learning behavior students are to exhibit. For instance, if a standard says analyze then students are to analyze or pull apart a topic or idea into separate components. The verb in every standard is more important than the noun. The noun is what students produce to demonstrate their mastery of the verb. Maybe this sounds complicated, perhaps overly theoretical. What matters most is the verb.
Educators tend to place more importance on the noun; the actual evidence created by a student. Why? The product is a physical, visible object that teachers can see and handle. The verb, the crux of learning, is difficult make tangible.
Students need to be able to exhibit the verb in ways that make learning tangible and then assessable. It can be done by an individual teacher but not well. This cannot be done well by an individual teacher because there is only one, again one, point of view. Collaboration becomes the focal point of lesson and assessment design because the conversation creates rich dialogue teachers use to design high quality learning experiences for all students.
Ideas for lesson design:
1. Teacher teams should never assume they truly understand the standard(s). Continuous open dialogue is needed to maximize complete understanding of what to teach and how to assess.
2. Push for clarification. At no point should any educator assume they know what a standard is saying.
3. Focus on verbs and not on nouns. As I said earlier, verbs trump nouns; learning behaviors are more important than the product.
4. Products of learning can change to meet the needs of students, but all students must prove mastery of the learning verb.
5. Assessment must vary. Giving a test is as boring as the day is long. Google or Bing or Yahoo! "assessment ideas" and find new ways to determine if students have mastered the learning verb.
6. Spiral learning verbs often. This simply means to bring verbs to forefront of learning often to remind students of what was learned.
7. Design learning to be fun. Admit lecture bores students to death.
8. Incorporate varying levels of creativity within each lesson. This gives student opportunity to make personal objects of learning. Design worksheets out of learning experiences.
9. Align all assessments to verbs in standards. The assessment can be complex or simple. This matters not. What matters is that the assessment matches the intended rigor.