New School Year, New Standards, Now What?
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
Starting a new school year is always a little overwhelming. As teachers, we’re charged with preparing an inviting classroom environment for our students, organizing all our classroom management systems, and crafting engaging, rigorous lesson plans, all while enduring days of professional development, campus training, faculty meetings, PLC meetings, and more before school begins. For a normal school year, we’re able to pull out our lesson plans from the previous school year and tweak them as necessary – maybe add a new read-aloud we just discovered on Pinterest or a cute back-to-school activity a teacher recommended in a Facebook group – then we get in line at the copy machine, organize everything into the proper folder or tray, cut and laminate the things we don’t want the students to mess up or we plan to use again, and just like that, we’re done! It’s time to meet our students and get the school year started.
But what about when you add new standards and curriculum resources into your massive before-school-starts to-do list? It can be downright daunting.
But what about when you add new standards and curriculum resources into your massive before-school-starts to-do list? It can become downright daunting! Yes, you probably attended training provided by your district or your regional service center on the new standards, but chances are that was at the end of the previous school year when you were exhausted and barely hanging on or included in your professional development before school started when your brain was overloaded with information from other trainings, not to mention the running list of things in your mind that you really needed to be doing instead. Additionally, over the summer, you most likely received boxes and boxes of curriculum resources due to the new textbook adoption, and when you walked into your classroom on your first day back to work after a relaxing summer, you were greeted by a giant stack of textbooks, teacher guides, leveled readers, vocabulary cards, student libraries, and more waiting for you just inside your door. So now, on top of doing all the things you normally do before school starts, you must first find a place to store all these new materials (a feat in itself), then sort through them and figure out what they all are. After all that, you sit at your desk with your new unit 1 teacher edition, your scope and sequence, a copy of your new standards, and last year’s lesson plans in front of you. Now what??
...you sit at your desk with your new unit 1 teacher edition, your scope and sequence, a copy of your new standards, and last year’s lesson plans in front of you. Now what??
Even if you’ve taught for 15 years and you’ve been through a new textbook adoption and the implementation of new standards before, it can be difficult to know where to start. Besides, you’ve taught long enough to have learned that with a new adoption, you’re not going to be able to teach from unit 1 to unit 6 cover to cover. Of course, the textbook company said their materials were 100% aligned to your standards, but we all know that doesn’t necessarily mean they're aligned to each standard in its entirety. Plus, will the standards be taught and reviewed to the depth and complexity required to master their end-of-year state assessment? Most likely not.
We’ve been down this road before, and we know exactly what it’s like.
We’ve been down this road before, and we know exactly what it’s like. When the STAAR test was first implemented during the 2011-2012 school year, we quickly discovered that none of the materials that lined our classroom bookshelves or stocked the shelves at our local teacher supply store were quite what we needed to teach the TEKS to the level of rigor and complexity that they were written. So, we were left with no other option than to begin creating materials for our class ourselves. Through the years, we discovered that a daily spiral review is the BEST way for students to improve reading comprehension and learn and retain skills. Although there were some versions of daily reviews out there, none of them were exactly what our students needed. They often covered skills students didn’t need or were simply just not rigorous enough.
We knew we needed a resource that:
Gradually introduced them to material in short workable parts
Included interesting passages on grade level with various genres to foster a love of reading in students
Reviewed key concepts already taught
Included higher-order, text-dependent questions with a difficulty that progressed as students’ learning increased through the year
Contained open-ended, response-to-text questions so that students have to explain their thoughts and provide text evidence to support their answers
Included an assessment at the end of the week to assess students’ mastery of skills
Was aligned to the TEKS!! So many spiral reviews we found were aligned to CCSS or other state standards. Some weren’t aligned at all. We needed a spiral review that was aligned to Texas’ standards.
When we began implementing the review in our classrooms, the results were drastic!
Just a few benefits included:
The 10-15 minute daily lessons are meaningful and not overwhelming for students.
Comprehension skills, reading stamina, and student confidence are strengthened throughout the year.
We can see consistently where students are struggling on a daily basis and target students who needed reteaching.
Students’ grades improved in class.
Significant growth was seen on district common assessments and benchmarks.
We need very little other test prep when using this resource all year.
This has become the #1 resource in our teaching toolbox. Even if our day is crazy and occupied by picture day, choir programs, book fairs, class parties, field trips, fire drills, etc., this is the thing we ALWAYS do. It’s become so valuable, it is pretty much a non-negotiable now. And to top it off, the students actually beg to do it! Click on your grade level below to take a closer look!
This has become the #1 resource in our teaching toolbox. Even if our day is crazy and occupied by picture day, choir programs, book fairs, class parties, field trips, fire drills, etc., this is the thing we ALWAYS do. It’s become so valuable, it is pretty much a non-negotiable now.
Education is always changing, and that includes the new standards. We are currently updating these resources to align with the new TEKS. The first month’s sets are ready to go, and we will be uploading the following months’ sets to TpT and watsonworksedu.com as they are updated.
We hope you have the most amazing school year yet, and please let us know if there is anything we can do to help along the way!
Watson Works, LLC