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Alignment

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Misaligned lessons are a fairly common problem in classrooms. There are a lot of reasons that a teacher may fall into the misalignment trap – trying to cram too much into one day, prioritizing engagement over alignment (either consciously or subconsciously), allowing themselves to be activity driven (“but I found this really cool lab!”) or not knowing what practice of a certain objective would look like- just to name a few. We need to hone our critical eye so that we’re able to assess the alignment of our lesson plans.

This section presupposes that you are able to write a rigorous, measureable daily learning objective. If that is challenging for you or you have additional questions about writing daily objectives, please visit the section on P-2: Unit Planning.

The first step to writing an aligned lesson plan or assessing the alignment of an already written plan is to dig out your trusty Bloom’s Taxonomy chart. You can download my favorite Bloom’s chart here: Amanda’s Favorite Bloom’s Taxonomy Page.

The key question in LP alignment is: Are my objective, intro to new material, guided and independent practice, and daily assessment all at the same level of Bloom’s?

Let’s take a look at an example. Below is a lesson plan, guided practice, and independent practice (lab) from a real class. Does this lesson pass the following tests?

* Is the daily objective is clear, rigorous, student-centered and measureable?

* Is the intro to new material at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective?

* Is the guided practice at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective and the intro to new material?

* Is the independent practice at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective and the intro to new material?

* Does the daily assessment align to the other parts of the lesson plan?

Lesson Plan

Guided Practice

Independent Practice

The Answers:

* Is the daily objective is clear, rigorous, student-centered and measureable?

Yes!

SWBAT describe the 3 main types of transport the cell uses to maintain homeostasis.

* Is the intro to new material at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective?

Yes! Although we can’t see the teacher deliver the INM we can assume that as long as he/she’s notes describe the key points that it is aligned to the objective.

* Is the guided practice at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective and the intro to new material?

Yes! The graphic organizer asks students to organize what they know about the 3 main types of transport in a different format. It is essentially having them describe the 3 types of transport in a flow chart.

* Is the independent practice at the same level of Bloom’s as the objective and the intro to new material?

No. The lab asks students to apply their understanding of 1 type of transport (diffusion) to a new situation. This is a higher level of Bloom’s and only addresses 1 of the 3 types.

* Does the daily assessment align to the other parts of the lesson plan?

We’re not sure. It depends on what those questions say. If the questions ask them to recall information or explain something about the 3 types of transport then they would be aligned. If they ask them to apply that information to a new situation or access that information at a higher level of Bloom’s then they would not be aligned.

Can we fix this lesson so that it does align?

The great news is it wouldn’t take much to align this lesson. If we were to remove the lab and replace it with an activity where we asked students to compare and contrast the 3 types of transport in a Venn diagram for independent practice it would be aligned.

Does that mean we shouldn’t use the lab at all?

Definitely not! This diffusion lab is a great way to get the students to apply their understanding about transport to a new situation and it shows up on the end of course test year after year. We would be remiss to exclude it all together, but we do need to include it purposefully. I would make a couple of quick changes:

1) Labs are a part of scientific inquiry. We shouldn’t force a lab into the 5 step lesson plan format. Instead we should use the 5 E Model. (Want more info on the 5 E model and other types of lesson plans? Go here.)
2) I need to make sure I have attached the right objective to this lab and that it does fit into my unit plan and long term plan. The objective of this lab is more along the lines of: SWBAT apply their understanding of the 3 types of transport used by cells to maintain homeostasis to a real-world problem (the cornstarch & iodine).

3) I need to change the questions in the lab to ensure it ties to all 3 types of transport, not just diffusion. Examples of questions that would serve this purpose are: What type of tranport is this? How do you know? What would you predict would happen if we were seeing active tranport? Why? Could active transport happen in this scenario? Why or why not? What would need to be added for active tranport to happen?

Written by theonlinepd

February 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm

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