Planning and Preparing
Before the First Day of School Begins
Before teachers can be expected to plan and prepare effectively, certain decisions must be made at the school or district level and certain practices put into place. Those decisions and practices include the following:
Generate measurement topics and their related proficiency scales for academic subject areas:
As described in section I of this manual, measurement topics are the core of the academic curriculum, instruction, and assessment within an academy. Most academies begin their design of measurement topics using the Marzano Research Critical Concepts (marzanoresearch.com). However, this is not mandatory. Schools can develop their own measurement topics as long as
they adhere to the proficiency scale structure described in section I of the Marzano Academy Implementation Manual.
Generate measurement topics and their related proficiency scales for cognitive, metacognitive, and life skills (e.g., SEL skills, behavioral skills):
An academy should also have measurement topics and proficiency scales for cognitive skills, metacognitive skills, life skills and other cross cutting skills they might wish to include (e.g., SEL skills, behavioral skills, civility skills). As recommended above, this should be a school-wide or district wide initiative and is described in section IV of the Implementation Manual.
Create an initial scope and sequence for all measurement topics and their related proficiency scales:
In academic and nonacademic areas, a key consideration relative to the scope and sequence of measurement topics is whether the sequencing of these topics is left up to individual teachers or is a school-wide or district-wide decision. In general, it is better if there is uniformity from teacher to teacher. Therefore, sequencing should be a school-wide or district-wide initiative. This noted, in some subject areas it might be both reasonable and beneficial to allow teachers flexibility as to how topics are sequenced.
Distribute nonacademic skills throughout the curriculum:
Determine which subject areas, grade levels, or courses will be responsible for teaching and assessing cognitive skills, metacognitive skills, life skills, and other cross-disciplinary skills. This is described in sections I and IV of the Implementation Manual.
During the First Week of the School Year
During the first few weeks of school, teachers should spend a fair amount of time focusing on the following:
Engage in activities that help establish a sense of comfort, safety, and order:
- Make the physical layout of the room comfortable
- Establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) with students
- Use strategies that enhance “withitness”
- Acknowledge adherence and lack of adherence to rules and to SOPs
- Exhibit objectivity and control
Engage in activities that help establish a sense of comfort, safety, and order:
- Engage in verbal and nonverbal behaviors that indicate affection for students
- Engage in activities that provide information about students’ backgrounds and interests
- Engage in activities that encourage students to talk about themselves
Develop a code of conduct:
The code of conduct in each classroom should be a derivative of the shared school-wide vision described in section VIII of the Implementation Manual about student agency. A classroom code of conduct incorporates the sentiments of the school vision but articulates the specific goals and behaviors for that particular class.
Introduce students to the concept of proficiency scales and the concept of competency-based education:
Proficiency scales are foundational to all academy work. The essential characteristics of proficiency scales are described in depth in section I and II of this manual. Students should be made aware of the meaning of the various levels of a proficiency scale. Most importantly, students should have the awareness that assessments, scoring, and grading are always done in the context of a proficiency scale. Also, students should know that at any point in time, what they are doing is probably related to some type of proficiency scale and that teachers will continually be making reference to those scales. Finally, students should be encouraged to continually acquaint themselves with the content of the proficiency scales on which they are currently working.
Introduce students to the scope and sequence of measurement topics that will be addressed over the year:
It is important for students to know the scope and sequence of the measurement topics over the span of a year. They should also be made aware of the fact that many of the measurement topics have a vertical alignment. That is, if they are interested in a specific topic at their grade level, like probability, they can study advanced content beyond their particular grade level and follow that topic up through increasingly more complex levels of understanding.
Introduce students to the concept of competency-based instruction:
Probably one of the more foreign concepts to students will be that of competency-based education. Competency-based education should be discussed with them in depth with an emphasis on some of its advantages, such as they can take time to learn the content before they move on, they can demonstrate their competence in a variety of ways, they can study advanced content, and so on.
Competency-based education should also be discussed in terms of some of its challenges, such as they must take some responsibility for their own learning, they must continually work on developing their knowledge, or they will fall behind, and so on.
Unit Planning and Routine Weekly Planning
Even though academy students are moving through measurement topics at their own pace, and students might be working on different measurement topics at any given point in time, teachers should still plan and utilize “units of instruction.” Specifically, each measurement topics (with its accompanying proficiency scale) will be embedded in a unit which might address more than one such topic.
At the beginning of the school year, the whole class will most likely participate in each unit. However, as time goes on, some students will have addressed measurement topics on their own and not need instruction from the teacher. When engaged in unit planning, teachers should address the following issues:
- Which measurement topics and proficiency scales will be included in the unit?
- What type of whole class instruction will be provided for the content in each proficiency that is included in the unit?
- What type of instruction will be addressed virtually?
- Whether whole class instruction will involve strategies for direct instruction, strategies for practicing and deepening content, and strategies for knowledge application.
- The type of centers that will be set up.
In addition to unit planning, teacher should engage in routine weekly planning that addresses the following issues:
- Identifying topics that require whole-class instruction that were not initially planned for.
- Identifying which students should move to different measurement topics or different levels for a given subject area.
- Creating new online resources for specific proficiency scales and loading them into EMPOWER.
- Creating new online assessments for specific proficiency scales and loading them into EMPOWER.
- Identifying the topics that will be used for cumulative review.
Considering all aspects of instruction by briefly asking and answering the following questions:
- Proficiency Scales: Today, do I need to help clarify content in specific proficiency scales?
- Assessment and Feedback: Today, do I need to collect any assessment evidence for specific students or specific proficiency scales?
- Proficiency Scale Instruction: Today, do I need to provide instruction regarding the content in specific proficiency scales?
- General Instruction: Today, do I need to provide instruction that helps students refresh, revise, and integrate their knowledge regarding specific proficiency scales?
- Grouping and Regrouping: Today, do I need to change my groups or move students to different groups?
- Engagement: Today, do I need today anything to help students pay attention, stay energized, or become intrigued?
- Comfort, Safety, and Order: Today, do I need to do anything to help provide students with a sense of comfort, safety, and order?
- Belonging and Esteem: Today, do I need to do anything to help provide students with a sense of belong and esteem?
- Efficacy and Agency: Today, do I need to do anything to help provide students with a sense of efficacy and agency?
- Metacognitive Skills and Life Skills: Today, do I need to do anything to teach or reinforce specific metacognitive skills or life skills?