Behind Closed Doors: The Taught Curriculum

reviewAs all good teachers do, let’s start with a quick review of the written curriculum before moving into the taught curriculum:

  • The Standards of Learning for Virginia public schools establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, technology, the fine arts, world language, health/physical education and driver education.
  • The curriculum frameworks of Chesterfield County Public Schools, which are on CNET, are aligned with the Standards of Learning. Our curriculum frameworks amplify the Standards of Learning and define the essential content knowledge, skills and understandings that are measured by the SOL tests.
  • Our curriculum frameworks contain a wealth of resources for our teachers including
    • pacing guides
    • standards
    • essential knowledge, skills and understandings
    • resources
    • presentations
    • assessments
    • model lessons
    • multimedia
    • vocabulary
    • websites
  • The curriculum frameworks of Chesterfield County Public Schools are our go-to guide for planning and delivering effective instruction aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning.

The Curriculum and Instruction team for Chesterfield County Public Schools guarantees that our curriculum frameworks are aligned with the Virginia Department of Education standards. But this guarantee is only valid for our written curriculum. Curriculum alignment occurs when what a teacher is teaching, how it is taught and how it is tested are aligned with a Standard of Learning curriculum framework found on CNET. When a teacher closes the classroom door, the taught curriculum begins and ends.

Once you have reviewed the frameworks for the content, context and cognitive level (read the previous blog on the written curriculum), begin to plan your assessment (we’ll save the topic of assessments for our next blog!). After planning your assessment, teachers must think of ways to teach the standards in rigorous and relevant ways.

To help youmarzano identify high-impact strategies to teach the written curriculum, take a look at the research done by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. From this work, Robert Marzano identified nine instructional strategies that are most likely to improve student achievement. The chart to the left not only identifies the strategy but also highlights the average percentile point gains on student achievement tests when teachers regularly use a particular strategy in the classroom:

Begin to design your lessons that target these nine strategies:

  1. Identifying Similarities and Differences helps students understand more complex problems by analyzing them in a simpler way.
  • Use Venn diagrams or charts to compare and classify items.
  • Engage students in comparing, classifying and creating metaphors and analogies.
  1. Summarizing and Note-taking promotes comprehension because students have to analyze what is important and what is not important and put it in their own words.
  • Provide a set of rules for asking students to summarize a literary selection, a movie clip, a section of a textbook, etc.
  • Provide a basic outline for note-taking, having students fill in pertinent information.
  1. Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition showing the connection between effort and achievement helps students see the importance of effort and allows them to change their beliefs to emphasize it more. Note that recognition is more effective if it is contingent on achieving some specified standard.
  • Share stories about people who succeeded by not giving up.
  • Find ways to personalize recognition. Give awards for individual accomplishments.
  • “Pause, Prompt, Praise.” If a student is struggling, pause to discuss the problem, then prompt with specific suggestions to help her improve. If the student’s performance improves as a result, offer praise.
  1. Homework and Practice provide opportunities to extend learning outside the classroom but should be assigned based on relevant grade level. All homework should have a purpose and that purpose should be readily evident to the students. Additionally, feedback should be given for all homework assignments.
  • Establish a homework policy with a specific schedule and time parameters.
  • Vary feedback methods to maximize its effectiveness.
  • Focus practice and homework on difficult concepts.
  1. Nonlinguistic Representations have recently been proven to stimulate and increase brain activity.
  • Incorporate words and images using symbols to represent relationships.
  • Use physical models and physical movement to represent information.
  1. Cooperative Learning has been proven to have a positive impact on overall learning. Groups should be small enough to be effective, and the strategy should be used in a systematic and consistent manner.
  • Group students according to factors such as common interests or experiences.
  • Vary group sizes and mixes.
  • Focus on positive interdependence, social skills, face-to-face interaction and individual and group accountability.
  1. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback provides students with a direction. Objectives should not be too specific and should be adaptable to students’ individual objectives. There is no such thing as too much positive feedback, however, the method in which you give that feedback should be varied.
  • Set a core goal for a unit, then encourage students to personalize that goal by identifying areas of interest to them. Questions like “I want to know …” and “I want to know more about …” get students thinking about their interests and actively involved in the goal-setting process.
  • Use contracts to outline the specific goals that students must attain and the grade they will receive if they meet those goals.
  • Make sure feedback is corrective in nature; tell students how they did in relation to specific levels of knowledge. Rubrics are a great way to do this.
  1. Generating and Testing Hypotheses: It’s not just for science class! Research shows that a deductive approach works best, but both inductive and deductive reasoning can help students understand and relate to the material.
  • Ask students to predict what would happen if an aspect of a familiar system, such as the government or transportation, were changed.
  • Ask students to build something using limited resources. This task generates questions and hypotheses about what may or may not work.
  1. Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers help students use what they already know to enhance what they are about to learn. These are usually most effective when used before a specific lesson.
  • Pause briefly after asking a question to give students time to answer with more depth.
  • Vary the style of advance organizer used: Tell a story, skim a text or create a graphic image. There are many ways to expose students to information before they learn it.
Respond to the blog to have a chance to receive the 2nd edition of this book!

Respond to the blog to have a chance to receive the 2nd edition of this book!

Make it your goal this next week to begin to incorporate at least one of these high-impact strategies into your delivery of instruction. Respond to the blog and let us know how the strategy worked and if your students responded in a positive way. I’ll randomly choose 10 teachers who respond to this post to receive a copy of Marzano’s book, “Classroom Instruction That Works.”

Check out my Pinterest Board on Marzano 

About donnadalton

Currently, I am honored to serve as the Chief Academic Officer for Chesterfield County Public Schools. This year begins my 41st year in public education and my final year in Chesterfield. Prior to this position, I served as the Director of Professional Development, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Mathematics Instructional Specialist. I have taught mathematics at the elementary, middle and high school levels. I have been married for 40 years to my husband, Bob, and our house is ruled by our sweet dog, Bella. We have one son and a daughter-in-law and are proud grandparents to Tyler and Kinsley!
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19 Responses to Behind Closed Doors: The Taught Curriculum

  1. Jacqueline Frisinger says:

    I like your Pinterest link! It has lots of good ideas.

  2. Sarah Lauren Slingerland says:

    #5 Nonlinguistic Representations have recently been proven to stimulate and increase brain activity.

    I used this in my classroom to teach vocabulary. For Social Studies Geography vocabulary we have motions to help us remember the new words. I also use it in reading when we learn a new strategy, giving students motions and a chant that emphasize the skill.

    I’d like to try #9, pausing to give students time to deepen their answer. I think conversation in the modern world is sometimes so fast paced that students respond in sound bytes. We can encourage deep thought by probing and providing space with the high expectation they will fill it!

  3. Catherine Hines says:

    Thank you, Donna. This is a wonderful article for all teachers and the Pinterest Link makes it all “real”.

  4. Laura Clark says:

    I jumped right in and incorporated #5: Nonlinguistic Representations today for my 3rd grade class’s vocabulary lesson today.

    Instead of reviewing our 7 science vocabulary words on paper or through words, I asked the class to come up with a movement for each word. The students brainstormed and performed movements, and we combined two suggestions into an “official” movement for each word. “Hives” was their favorite – it had them buzzing around the room and then returning, happily, to their homes. Each word had a unique movement and boy did it stimulate and activate their brain (and physical) activity! I loved seeing the words come alive!

    Thanks for reminding me of a great practice to represent words and ideas with movement!

  5. cyndeeblount says:

    What a great blog! And a remember to our awesome teachers to allow the students to be the ones that are doing the high impact strategies…. . Not the teachers! 🙂

  6. Cynthia Piazza says:

    I used the “Identifying Similarities and Differences” today while I modeled a “Number Talk” for a 2nd grade classroom. The base problem was 4+3. Different students shared 4+4=8; 8-1=7 and 3+3=6; 6+1=7 as the way they arrived at the sum. I had all thinking listed vertically on chart paper and then followed up with, “What do you notice is the same in these two ways?” then later “How are they different?” It was a very complex question to most of the class. A few could verbalize their thinking but most were really looking intently at the chart. I need to follow up in a few days and see if they can transfer the “language” into other examples.

  7. cynthiapiazza says:

    I was modeling a Number Talk today for a fabulous 2nd grade teacher and to my surprise I incorporated “Similarities and Differences.” The talk was using 4+3. Two student thoughts were recorded as 4+4=8; 8-1=7 and 3+3=6; 6+1=7. The thoughts are written vertically on chart paper. I inquired, “What do you notice is the same in the thinking?” and then “What do you notice is different?” I could immediately see how challenging the questions were. A few students could verbalize the similarities and differences;but for many they were intently looking at the chart paper. I think instruction in that vocabulary is necessary for youngest students and I definitely plan to follow up and see if they can communicate the similarities and differences with other number examples that follow that Doubles and Near Doubles thinking.

  8. Michelle Balding says:

    My 6th graders are ROCKING the summarizing and note taking skill, using Cornell notes and Three Column Graphic Organizers, and collaborating in Cooperative Learning Groups. Social Studies cooperative learning groups went into high gear with their Chrome Books to develop Google Presentations on the 8 Regions of the US, while Science groups are working to come up with a Movie Trailer for their chosen Element! I love it when they equate learning to having fun!

  9. Teresa Beardsley says:

    Praise and recognition for accomplishments are part of what our Town Meetings do best. School wide recognition is very powerful at our school.

  10. Karen J Johnson says:

    This year I have been utilizing Google Docs in every lesson, by giving the students the “shell” of the notes and having them summarize what I say mentally and type the notes in their own words on their laptops. It keeps them not only engaged and focused, but they are retaining the information for longer because they always have the notes readily available and they are easy to read (as opposed to their handwriting). Some students are using colors and inserting pictures to make it come alive for them. This hits not only Marzano’s #2 strategy, but #5 as well.

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