Reflections on Applying Standards, SMART Objectives, and Backwards Mapping

Achievement for every student. It’s a lofty goal, and a lofty claim that standards will help push that success. But they can, and do, help ensure that each child receives the same rigor in their education. And they can, certainly, help teachers plan engaging and intellectually challenging lessons. But this is only possible if the teacher knows how to incorporate the standards into their lesson plans. The last three activities have helped me think differently about incorporating the standards into my lesson plans and about the benefits of backwards mapping.

I felt that the first activity, in which we made a Prezi analyzing two standards, was the most beneficial for me. I have been exposed to goal-writing and backwards mapping in the past, and I’ve written unit plans based on SMART-type objectives before, but I had not analyzed a standard as thoroughly as we did here. The curriculum at my school comes with built-in lessons which I am expected to follow fairly closely, so I’ve had very little thorough lesson planning to do this school year. It was super helpful for me to learn how to pick out the key details in a standard, analyze its level on the Bloom’s Taxonomy, and apply it to my curriculum. Breaking down a standard by its verbs and its big ideas was extremely useful, and I’m planning on figuring out how my curriculum matches the Common Core standards so that I can teach with the larger standard in mind.

I also really appreciated the reminder of the importance of creating clear, SMART goals for my lessons when I created the infographic describing 5 SMART objectives to meet a specific standard. Though much of the planning is done for me, it’s still helpful to study my curriculum more thoroughly so that I become intimately familiar with the objective and how it is taught in the lesson. The lessons are Specific in their goal, with clear instructions given for completion; easily Measurable, so that both teachers and students know if they met the standard; definitely Achievable at grade-level skills; certainly Relevant to the curriculum and Results-oriented. It is the last one – Targeted – that I need to spend more time focusing on. The curriculum does a great job of building a SMAR lesson, but if I want it to be specifically tailored and Targeted to my students, I need to do that myself. I’ve achieved that in some subjects, like Reading, Science and History, but in other subjects, like Math, I definitely need to improve in adapting the curriculum to fit the needs of my class.

Backwards mapping, or the process of creating a lesson based on the standards and objectives one is trying to help students achieve, will certainly help me in this goal. I definitely learned this when I wrote a blog post in which I described my plan for a unit plan on the Declaration of Independence. By starting with the end in mind, I can tailor my activities to suit that end. In this way, I can ensure that my students are, truly, reaching the goals my curriculum intends for them to reach by the end of the lesson. This will help clarify lessons in subjects that are usually a struggle for both myself and my students. Through backwards mapping, SMART objectives, and standards-analysis, I know that my lessons will be much more thorough and much more productive.

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