After taking a look at the California and the Common Core standards, as well as reflected on what habits I feel my ninth graders need to practice to become college-bound students, I’ve narrowed my lengthy list to the following 10 areas:
3. Class Participation
5. Reading Identity
6. Analyzing Non-Fiction
7. Analyzing Fiction
9. Writing Process
Some may argue that including homework, classwork, and class participation amounts to setting behavioral expectations as standards rather than placing the emphasis on learning. For most of my ninth graders, learning how to do school is extremely important. We’re still in a place of the teacher as responsible for controlling student behavior, rather than the student learning the habits of work required for college-preparatory study. Therefore, my hope is that by making these things standards, I can quit getting annoyed at challenging behavior and turn it into learning opportunities.
Others may ask, “What’s reading identity?” In short, I want my students to see themselves as readers and to read a lot. That’s why I have The 1,000,000 Word Challenge. Are my students consistent readers? How long can they read without stopping? Do distractions cause them to lose focus? If their reading identity is strong, nothing will stop them from reading.
Next steps: First, each category title needs to become a true standard (as in, I need to write some sentences). After that, I can create some easy rubrics for the 10 standards. It’ll be good to get student input, of course. Then comes some backward planning: What’s the best curriculum map to make sure all 10 standards are assessed regularly?