Rethinking Classroom Pedagogy in the Standards-Driven Classroom
The long-term benefits of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been touted by the academic community at large, yet it's often difficult to envision the light at the end of the tunnel when dealing with the demands and challenges of actual classroom implementation. Although these standards make it clear what is expected of students, many teachers are left without a road map explaining how to approach and properly convey this new material in the classroom.
The key, said Robert Marzano in his 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session "The New Pedagogy of the Common Core and the Science Standards," is not to blindly dive into the higher-order thinking questions in an effort to meet the CCSS and NGSS without first setting reasonable goals and a workable framework of instruction that moves purposefully toward student-directed, cognitively complex tasks. "If you were to teach all the content in the national standards documents in the time available ... without adding days to the school year or time to the school day, you'd have to change school from K–12 to K–22," explained Marzano.
Tried-and-true instructional strategies that have been in place since the 1980s thinking skills movement should not be discarded in light of increasingly rigorous standards. Instead, teachers should start by addressing their own language of instruction and pedagogical practices to decide what to add or place more emphasis on in their lessons to meet the rigorous, leaner-and-meaner standards without sacrificing student comprehension and engagement.
Marzano provided session attendees with concrete examples and instructional strategies needed to weather the pedagogical shifts in our standards-driven education environment. According to Marzano's research findings, the current language of instruction can be broken down into three components with varying levels of emphasis: direct instruction (60 percent), practicing and deepening understanding (35 percent), and applying knowledge through hypothesis generating and testing (5 percent). The model, says Marzano, needs to be revised so that more application and less direct instruction occurs in the classroom to assist students' college and career readiness. To change the language of instruction, Marzano recommends implementing the following elements more frequently:
- Identifying critical information
- Elaborating on content and new information
- Recording and representing knowledge, both linguistically and nonlinguistically
- Examining similarities and differences
- Examining errors in reasoning
- Revising knowledge (updating instruction based on what works)
- Engaging students in tasks involved in generating hypotheses and testing
Teachers must also directly foster certain mental skills and processes. "We commonly have students engaged in tasks where they have to make decisions or problem solve, but we don't as commonly teach them what we mean by decision making, what we mean by problem solving, what we mean by comparing and generating conclusions," said Marzano. To help build necessary cognitive and reasoning skills, teachers need to institute a framework for organizing the standards into digestible components for students (or "unpack" the standards) and develop a proficiency scale or rubric to measure student achievement. This scale needs to be transparent to students so that they can both observe and take ownership of their progress and track and celebrate their growth.
It's not enough for teachers to simply present new information and get students to interact with it; instructors must work within their classroom to deepen students' knowledge of the concepts in relevant and real-world ways. In addition to developing a structured classroom focused on inquiry and testing, teachers must also teach conative skills, which involve "interacting with students about themselves and what it means to be a human being." Teachers have the capacity to move students from a fixed mind-set about their abilities to a growth mind-set, enabling students to approach rigorous concepts with a positive outlook that benefits both classroom instruction and overall student achievement.
Register today for the 70th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show, March 21–23, 2015, in Houston, Texas. Learn how to create, share, and experience vibrant learning ecosystems that address global challenges and be part of the age ruled by innovation!
Take advantage of the low super early-bird rates and be entered into a sweepstakes to win one of seven prizes. Super early-bird pricing and the sweepstakes end June 30, 2014.