Standard S

Standard S: Subject Matter and Curriculum Goals

S: Knowledge of Subject Matter and Curriculum Goals

Teacher candidate positively impact student learning that is:

  • S1 – Content driven. All students develop understanding and problem solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written, and oral communication and technology.
  • S2 – Aligned with curriculum standards and outcomes. All students know the learning targets and their progress towards meeting them.
  • S3 – Integrated across content areas. All students learn subject matter content that integrates mathematical, scientific, and aesthetic reasoning.  This includes a knowledge and understanding of subjects in the school curriculum, the ability to integrate subject matter, the ability to find needed information, the ability to identify and teach about the moral and ethical issues in course content, and the ability to communicate orally and in writing with a variety of audiences.

My understanding of Standard S

The skills students develop and hone while in elementary school are not only academic, but civic in nature.  However, the academic foundation that is laid for these students will be the platform for all future academic success and future life accomplishments. It is essential then, in the elementary years, for our focus as teachers to be on the construction of an academic foundation built upon depth of knowledge in all subjects based on both curriculum standards and outcomes.  Standard S targets this construction of foundational learning by focusing on: depth of content, aligning curriculum standards, and integrating content across disciplines. Because of this foundational learning that both teacher and student will focus on curriculum that is: rich and diverse, intentionally planned to incorporate reading, writing, and oral communication and supports the use of technology.   The teacher will provide students with daily learning targets and unit targets for each lesson.  Students will be afforded multiple opportunities to make personal, hypothetical, and real life connections across content areas.

As a teacher, a thoughtful and well planned incorporation of Standard S in every lesson and unit is imperative.  By making connections across curriculum and focusing on depth of content students will be equipped to engage in curriculum scaffolding for their academic success. Standard S ensures not only quality teaching, but quality learning as well.


In any elementary classroom a primary focus of the teacher is to support the individual needs of students while, simultaneously, addressing the group needs. The teacher models proper pronunciation, correct grammar, proper sentence structure, complete sentence dialogue and appropriate questioning strategies.  The class works together with the teacher as whole group, in small groups, in pairs and individually to practice reading, writing, oral communication.  Technology is often used to support student exploration of individual practice for reading and written communication.  The following artifact (Visualizing and Inferring) demonstrates my understanding and competencies with standards S1. Throughout this reflection I focus on the importance of students developing understanding and problem solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written, and oral communication and technology.  The activity develops students’ strategies to increase comprehension of text.  By activating their personal schema, prior knowledge of active verbs and applying this to visually compelling curriculum students are better able comprehend meaning of the text.   This encouragement of personal schema, as an active part of reading, allows students to open up personal connections to textual visual imagery. This is supported through a repetition of readings where a focus on sensory descriptors and personal inference are reflected upon.  By reading aloud a passage and reminding the students to ask themselves, “What do I see?”, “Feel?”,  “Smell?”, “Touch?”,  “Hear?”,  the text begins to have a more visceral and personal meaning and comprehension is increased.

S1 is demonstrated in the development of a cognitive content dictionary (CCD).  Below you can see two CCD’s, one is for a mathematics lesson and the other support vocabulary specific to our study of the temperate rainforest. A complete lesson plan (Introcuction to Fractions-Part 1) for the CCD for mathematical concept attainment is here as an artifact to support my understanding of the multiple modalities, learning styles, and teaching techniques that this particular tool affords to both students and teacher.  The development of this tool supports understanding and problem solving expertise in the content area(s) by supporting use of reading, written, and oral communication and technology, as is evident in the following example.

Cognitive Content Dictionary (CCD)

Through whole class instruction a modeling of academic specific language is used with students. Students are guided to use personal schema and class support to scaffold many approaches to defining vocabulary.  For example if the word is “classification” I will ask the students to listen to the word and then ask the students to repeat the word with me as we count the syllables. I will tell the student that classification has fourteen letters and I will draw letter-blanks for them to fill in for the next step. Since there are five syllables in the word, classification, I will ask students to attempt to spell each syllable, reminding them of the rule that every syllable must have a vowel in it.  For the word class-i-fi-ca-tion, I will pick students to come up and write the syllable on the CCD.  After the word is complete, I will ask how many students have heard/not heard the word and record this.  Once the word is written and spelled correctly I will ask the table groups (of usually four students) to put their “heads together” and come up with a hypothesis for the meaning of the word.  Each group will share their definition using complete sentences as I call on them randomly.  This process gives students a chance to hear other’s hypothesis and develop a definition with a group. There is a chance for students to verbally process with one another and orally communicate to both small and large groups. Often student who are uncomfortable sharing or do not have prior knowledge of the vocabulary are supported in the development of a group hypothesis.  I record each group’s definition and ask them to explain how they came up with this definition.  I do this so I can better understand student thinking within specific academic language. The next day I will return to the CCD and provide students with a dictionary definition to compare to the hypothesized definitions.  I will provide a quick sketch to support my visual learners and ask each group to come up with a sentence using the word classification in it.  The CCD will be used every day to develop academic language specific to what we are studying.  It will stay on the wall for the unit’s entirety, as a support for all styles of learners and development of practiced language skills.  This CCD provides opportunity for practice of reading, written and oral communication skills.

Depth of content is important but will miss the mark if the material is not aligned with curriculum standards and integrated across content areas.  Skills for understanding are increased by planning standards based opportunities for students to make connections across multiple subjects.  Demonstration of my understanding of competencies S2 and S3 is shown the following artifact (7 continents and 5 oceans).  All students are explicitly presented the learning target for the lesson and these learning targets are aligned with curriculum standards and outcomes. The lesson is integrated across content areas and is developed to engage students in multiple subject areas: mathematics, scientific, and aesthetic reasoning.  Students actively participate by communicating orally, by writing, and by being involved with a variety of interactions; student-teacher, individual student work, student pair-share, student group-work, and whole-class discussion. Geography standards, EALR 3, GLE 3.1.1 and 3.1.2., were met according to the Washington State Social Studies Standards, thus, aligning curriculum standards and outcomes (S2).

Development of S2 and S3 are further demonstrated in a unit of study about the Olympic temperate rain-forest.  As mentioned above, the development of a CCD not only helps to scaffold academic language throughout our units of study but more importantly supports the daily use of academic language throughout whole–class instruction, small group and individual activities.  The following example of the Food Web, specific to the temperate rain-forest, supported information and academic language throughout the whole unit and supports multiple content areas.  The following artifacts are evidence of S2 and S3 and the alignment of curriculum to Washington State standards 4-5 LS2A, 4-5 LS2B, and 4-5 LS2C.

The Food Web

 Students see the lecture unfold while listening and seeing pictures presented and placed on the lecture as it progresses.  The next day I will return to the large pictorial and pass out words and labels specific to the previous day’s study and ask the students to work with their group to figure out where the labels will go.  I will then go through the lecture again but this time students are actively participating and adding their labels and academic language to the pictorial as I am talking.  This type of modeling alongside of student participation supports differentiation and student connection across the curriculum. As the unit continues this processes is repeated to scaffold depth of concept acquisition.  You can see further student involvement in the following artifact 3-Layers of the Forest pictorial:

3 Layers of the Temperate Rain-forest

As each study progresses, depth of concepts across content areas is explored (S3).  Further exploration is evident through an expert study that is presented to the students.  Again you can see it here in pictorial form after the student affixed labels have been added.

Northern Spotted Owl

Students then participate in a sentence patterning chart about owls.  This activity requires students to develop lists of language specific words in a typical sentence pattern structure.  Students recall what each part of speech means: adjective, noun, verb, adverb and prepositional phrase and then together as a group develop a list of words. I provide the noun as we continue to develop our knowledge of owls.  This is evident in the list as seen below:

Sentence Patterning Chart

As student present words I will write them down and draw a quick sketch to provide support for the visual learners. After each category has about 15-20 words I will read through the list again with the students and provide a kinesthetic movement that they will do too, to further support the kinesthetic learners. Once each category is filled, with words, sketches and movements to support the words, I will hand out sticky notes to four students to pick two adjectives, one verb, one adverb and one prepositional phrase.  We sing our sentence patterning song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”, but it goes instead like this;

“Adjective, adjective noun,

Adjective, adjective, noun

Adjective, adjective, noun, verb, adverb, prepositional phrase.”

 The sentence read like this, “Bold, amazing owls swallowing awkwardly in the temperate rain-forest.”  Although, the sentence might be funny it follows a sentence pattern that is vital to language acquisition.  After one group of students picks and we sing the sentence we repeat the process a few more times with different students.  Kids love this activity and look forward to the sometimes Mad Libs- like sentences they come up with.

Next we delved into our study of owls even further by bringing in owl pellets for dissection.  The student’s excitement and thrill was contagious throughout this hands-on learning experience.  The lesson was planned according to Washington State standards: 4-5 LS1A, 4-5 LS1B, and 4-5 were met and thus, aligned the curriculum to standards and outcomes further supporting S2.  The following artifacts are evidence of student participation in classification skills and scientific exploration.

My understanding and execution of Standard S has been carefully and completely developed. The evidence presented supports student’s active engagement and participation in communication utilizing reading, writing and oral skills.  By involving students in a variety of interactions through multiple modalities student experience is richer and more accessible to all types of learners. This differentiation of learning style supported by interactions through student-teacher, individual student work, student pair-share, student group-work, and whole-class discussion etc., allows for multiple opportunities for students to deepen their concept acquisition. In the future I hope to continually engage students in thoughtful and rich learning experiences and strengthen my teaching through informative best practices.

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