A Reflection on My Introduction to Objectives and Standards

Hello everyone!

Wow, this week was a doozy for me! I walked into this week knowing absolutely nothing about making a lesson plan, and I have walked out with my behind thoroughly kicked into shape! I was told in the virtual classroom that we needed to lay down a solid ground for this next module by doing the very best we could this week. I hope and pray that I did just that!

Here’s what I did this week:

Activity 1: Let’s backwards map some standards!

I was thrilled to finally read what the Common Core standards are for English. They’re totally do-able! I still don’t like Common Core, but I do like the specific and orderly standards they’ve created for the 9th and 10th grades. For this assignment, I had to start with two standards of my choice and then map my whole lesson around those two standards. Since I’m going to be an English teacher, I knew that, for myself, I had to truly start off with a book. Which one to teach? The Good Earth came quickly to mind, since i absolutely adore both the book and the film (and it’s on the reading list! Huzzah!). Next, I chose two standards which I knew I could easily apply to The Good Earth: one dealing with teaching the overall theme, and the other with comparing two similar works (the book and the movie, in my case). Everything lined up quite easily after that. I chose some of my favorite activities as the student performances: a reading journal, a short research paper, a comparative essay about the film and book, and a final group project (creativity is key!). Deciding which teaching methods to use was hard, since I had trouble finding a certain component of this lesson. Yet, I think what I chose works well. I’ve always been a fan of group discussions, since it garners participation points and allows students to freely speak their minds. I always appreciated teachers who would let us talk, so I’m hoping my students find that refreshing. I’m also hoping that using culturally relevant videos, explaining the turn of the century customs of China, counts as a teaching method. I know those kids are going to be confused on certain parts, so the least I can do is introduce them to these new and exciting things (or not so exciting, as would be the case when it comes to the ancient art of foot-binding… eww).

Anyway, as I mentioned before, this activity really introduced me to the amount of work it takes to really align standards with what you want to teach. I personally like having those standards there; otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to model my lessons around! I really like this approach to making lesson-plans.

Activity 2: Unpacking standards

I had a bit of trouble understanding this one, even though I was part of a group. Since we only had two standards, the other two ladies kind of jumped on doing one each, which left me with writing the introduction as well as organizing the prezi to look graphically aligned and nice (I’m an OCD artist here XD). Anyway, though I wasn’t as deep in the text as they were, I did learn something from this assignment: unpacking a standard can become very redundant, at times. To really unpack a standard, one must dissect it into its smallest parts. Sometimes, these parts appear to overlap. For example, take a look at this, taken from our prezi:

1. Students will analyze what the text says explicitly.
2. Students will draw inferences from the text.
3. Students will cite textual evidence to support analysis of what is said explicitly in the text using MLA format.
4. Student will cite textual evidence to support inferences drawn from text using MLA format.

See what I mean? Each part of the standard must be drawn out and explicitly stated. This is a good thing, I truly believe so. Yet, I know that, if I ever unpack a standard for my future work as a teacher, it won’t exactly be done in this way. I guess it’s just the way I think, but it felt like we were over-doing it for this project so that we would not be under-doing it in the real world.

Activity 3: Applying objectives to a standard

If Activity 1 alerted me to the amount of work necessary to get the job done, then Activity 3 whooped me into shape. The devil is in the details for this work, and I got rather frustrated with this. I first attempted to do this assignment by using one of the broader standards, the one dealing with understanding and analyzing the overall themes. I thought that I needed to write objectives for that standard for a unit, on the whole. It didn’t quite work out. The objectives were too big, even if they were specific. I now regret that I didn’t save them on another document so that I could’ve put them on here, as a kind of compare and contrast. Well, let me tell you who set me straight: my best friend, who is also training to be a teacher. She’s studying at UGA, and her teacher is putting her through the wringer. Likewise, she put my prezi through the wringer, and boy, was I unhappy afterwards. Basically, I had to scrap the standard that I had been working with and choose something more specific. My friend suggested that I focus on just one lesson, not a unit, since it’s a lot easier to create objectives that are measurable for a lesson (not that it can’t be done for a unit, but since I’m a new, untested teacher, it’s better that I stick to the small stuff). From there, I worked on a lesson dealing with comparing and contrasting the film and original book of The Good Earth. Once I narrowed my choices down, it was much easier to create SMART objectives for that standard. My friend also made sure that I was super specific about what would be used to demonstrate that students were meeting the standard (the short, comparative essay) and how many essays there were (beforehand, she said, it seemed like there was one essay per objective, which was definitely not my intention!). All in all, I’m rather pleased with the final product, and I feel so grateful to my best friend for critiquing my work and making it much better than before.

Since I’ve never written a real lesson plan in my whole life, this is definitely going to be one module to remember! I’m hoping that my efforts during this first week will pay off in the end. 🙂


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