Keeping Up with the Standards

As the school year navigates its final curve, many teachers begin to look toward the end, and they can often miss that last stretch of the road.  From Spring Break through testing season, and into the final days of school, the standards can often be pushed aside for other more important tasks - you know, planning for prom and graduation.

Now, with the common core standards looming over everyone's head, it is even more important that teachers have, and stick to, their curriculum calendar.  At each level, it is important to cover all of the assigned content.  If not, just imagine the gaps in our student's minds.

Take, for instance, middle school World History.  For many, the 7th grade curriculum requires the teacher to cover the beginning of civilizations TO the Renaissance.  This INCLUDES the Middle Ages.  Now, you may be able to tell this is a pet peeve of mine.  After teaching high school World History for so many years, I became tired and frustrated with the many middle school teachers who, at this time in the year, decided they were running behind, so they would just skip the middle ages and teach something more fun - the Renaissance.  Then, since the Renaissance is not really their required content, they skim over much of it, only hitting what they find fun and interesting.  You end up with every student painting like Michelangelo by laying on the floor and creating a masterpiece on the paper taped to the bottom of their desk, yet knowing nothing of the Crusades, the Feudal System, and the rise of the modern-day nations.  Hmmm... why do Christians and Muslims not get along?  We don't know, but that painting on the "Sixteenth" Chapel ceiling is really cool!  UGH!

 So, what do you do if you are running behind and still need to hit the content?

I have always been a stickler to keeping to my content schedule.  Knowing how I feel when I do not get to finish a book or a movie, I always feared my students leaving my "story" without knowing the end.  That left me almost obsessive with following my curriculum calendar, or at least, working in activities to cover the content into my final weeks.

Here are my tips:

Use Centers or Stations to cover large amounts of content in short periods of time.
Middle Ages Activity
Walking Tours

Allow your students to make decisions in what they want to learn, focusing on what is more important to them.

Asian Empires Research Project
Semester Research Projects

Assign research projects to encourage students to investigate the content further, bringing it all back together through student presentations.
Comparing Countries

Don't be afraid to mix up events or people from different "units" to introduce your students to the bigger picture.

Biography Cards & Activities
Wrap-up Research Activities

Teach the BIG PICTURE!  It is not important that they know every name, date, and location, but they should understand the significance of the lesson.
Middle Ages to Renaissance

In the end, my best suggestion is quite simple:  Do not stop teaching!  Testing, spring events, and even the final weeks of school are not reasons to give up on your obligations.  Use every minute possible to provide your students every advantage you can in this ever changing world.  Just remember - Knowledge is Power!

Michele Luck