In every classroom there is an expectation that teachers have to cover specific standards and a specific number in a certain amount of time. It is also common knowledge that teachers are evaluated on their students’ comprehension and application of these standards, especially when students are mandated to take standardized exams. Yes, teachers stress out about getting student buy-in when it comes to standards, but it is not difficult. Guess what?! Students will understand the standards, recognize, and amaze you with their knowledge of concepts when using the standards. Check out these 3 Tips for getting your students to UNDERSTAND THE STANDARDS.

1. Have Students Personalize the Standards

If students believe this information is not for them, it will not be internalized. Students will think that this is just more teacher jargon (mumbo-jumbo, if you will) that they don’t need to know and can tune out. Here’s how we can change this way of thinking in our students: have them make it their own version of the standards.

Get students to paraphrase the standards. Putting these in their own words will get it committed to memory in their brains and hearts. Some states, districts, schools, and teachers have provided ‘student-friendly’ versions of these standards, but this works better coming from them. Make them come up with the wording!

Have them chant mantras about the standard: “Today’s objective/standard is…,” “I will earn to…,” and so on and so forth.

Create mini-games (matching, jig saws) so they’ll associate fun and activity with particular standards. To get my AP English Literature students to internalize STEPS to understanding their standards, I’ve had them remove a shoe, traced their foot on paper, and made “steps” to understanding texts (they wrote the standards in the footprint they made). Get it? They made ‘steps.’

2. Provide Students a Copy of the Standards

Instead of just posting the standards in some arbitrary area of your classroom for the adults who walk in or being the only person in the room to have access to these standards, provide copies for students. They need to be able to access these and see and use these as frequently as they need to.

I’ve had a co-worker who had students write the standards and objectives down on their assignments each time they cover a new one. You may also post it in the room as well (since most of us are mandated to do it anyway); have no fear – this will only help our cause.

As students are working and you are moving around the room and interacting with them, reference the posted standard/objective. “Which part of the standard is being used here, Johnny?” “Do we see how the standards is applied here?” In my classes, students keep a smaller copy of the standards in their classroom folders, binders or affixed to their desk, as do I. If I don’t assign an actual question based on the standard for them to answer, I have them talk to me. “Which standard is this, Peter?” or I would shout out: “Hey, Lashay, how many parts of the standard did we use today?” Randomly asking these questions keep them on their toes, paying attention!

3. Have Students Reflect on the Standards

After the lesson or before the exam, you want to know your students have arrived at comprehension and the ability of application of the standards. How do we evaluate this? Ask ’em!

As EXIT TICKETS, on formal exams, in discussions, get your students involved in their application of the required standards. The more they know you’ll be asking them to identify and use these seemingly arbitrary numbers and phrases on the classroom board or wall, the more they’d pay attention and become more involved in committing them to memory.

Having students write a final response to their standard/lesson, gets them to personalize their day. Reflect on their learning. Have them ask themselves: “Did I learn today?” “What did I learn today?” “Do I now know how to do X?” They can also pair up and talk about it. “No, that’s not what we did, we learned…” “Cool! You were paying attention, Johnny!”

You’ll start seeing an improvement in their comprehension and application on skills and standards in your classrooms.

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