06 November 2005

What's the Big Idea?

One of the things on my "to do" list is to identify the "big ideas" contained within the standards and put them into friendly language (while maintaining the integrity of the concepts). I have some sort of chart pictured, so that teachers can see not only what they are responsible for, but how it fits with the overall K - 10 flow. I would also like to put together some sort of quick reference for teachers so that they know when kids (are supposed to) learn different things. If you've always taught atoms, but can see that it is assigned to another grade, perhaps it might be easier to focus on what your objectives are.

The second task is much simpler than the first. I'm really struggling with the whole graphic organizer thing for the big ideas. I know that it sounds like it should really be simple to do. But there are just so many standards---and I'm wanting to make things fit nicely on a page. It may be that these two things are just so much at odds that I will have to let go of the "one page" goal. My other problem is that things don't spiral nearly as nicely in science as they do in math, for example. I've seen a chart another state produced for calculus---and underneath are all the math standards that lead to up to a student's ability to be successful with calculus. It's a thing of beauty. This may well be a possibility for the process skills in science, but dealing with the three Life/Physical/Earth science strands makes it very messy for content.

What I do visualize down the road is a nice sheet to go with each science kit used at elementary. The sheet would provide alignment with relevant standards, point out the most vital concepts contained within, and other resources for teaching and assessment. Of course, the Big Idea would be right at the top. This sort of approach has been well-received in terms of the math expectations. It might be quite palatable for teachers to also have it in science.

In the meantime, if anyone has any great ideas for how to squeeze eleven years of content onto one page, I'd love to hear them!


Rob said...

The silly thing about this is that you're having to do it at all. Since every Science Goddess in every district is going to need similar tools, why haven't the people who developed the standards provided the tools to teach the standards? Who better than the developers of the standards to identify the "Big Ideas" which they contain.

I know, I know, I'm dreming...

Jessica said...

Good luck!