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This Saturday the 19th, I will be presenting a session on “How to Increase Student Engagement with Learning Goals and Scales” at the AATM 2015 Conference! The presentation will cover ideas for writing, assessing, and tracking Marzano scales in your classroom – especially if you are required to use them as part of your Teacher Evaluation (iobservations anyone?) I am really looking forward to connecting with local teachers and sharing some free Common Core Marzano scales to make life in the classroom easier! I was able to give this presentation at the MCTM (Michigan) Conference this summer and the room was packed! Part of it could have been the free Marzano Scales Posters sets I gave away (All the Common Core Standards for one grade level 1-8th!) but the other part was that teachers need help!!!
In my classroom I usually felt like I got to know my kids pretty quickly; 7-8 hours a day in one room, need I say more? Even as a gifted resource teacher, I looked at the qualifying scores and said well, after two-three weeks I have a general idea of how this particular child is going to perform, and what personal set-backs they might have: procrastination, unorganized, perfectionistic, inattentive, doesn’t like group work, etc. What got me is trying to organize the vast array of skills, explicit and implied, that are necessary for each child to master every standard. Not only did I have to consider my target goals, but think about where these kids were coming from, the knowledge of previous grade levels, which we all know can vary depending on who taught them before! Uhhh…. I attempted to do this one topic at a time, giving quizzes as a pre-assessment, and then building instruction off of that. The problem was that even once I knew which kids were low, medium, or high in one topic, I had to spend time figuring out where to start instruction for each group, what the goals should be, and make new quizzes and resources to teach and reassess each group. Too much to organize and not enough time to do it!
Learning Goals and Marzano Scales helped me!
When I was first asked to use Learning Goals and Scales in my classroom, I thought, “Okay, the research supports it and this could really help me streamline skills, but who has time to do all that work themselves?” I wasn’t sure where to start. Most of the teachers I worked with were constructing their own Learning Goals as grade level teams which worked great if you had a team on-site. I was traveling between two schools, teaching three-four grade levels of math in an hour and a half a day to a multi-age advanced class, fitting in consultation time with the lower grade level teachers, and managing testing referrals and data. Every other Gifted Resource teacher in my district was in the same boat; we made a good attempt to get together, and interest was high, but follow through tapered off over a few months because we had so much to do! Language Arts seemed a lot more manageable for me, but math, with it’s plethora of implied skills and vocabulary, seemed trickier to keep organized. This motivated me to start here; I spent over 120 hours creating Math Assessments with Learning Goals and Scales for grades 4, 5, and 6, which I was currently teaching the most. I spent these hours reading, researching, and creating Learning Goals and scales for each standard that drew from previous grade levels and future grade level skills. Since I had taught so many different grade levels of math, I had a good idea where to look for standards that progressed.
Here are some examples of posted Learning Goals and Scales from my classroom. (These are what I’m giving away at the conference!)
When I introduced the Assessment with Marzano Scales as a pre-assessment, they enjoyed the fact that there was no pressure to know everything right away. They completed as much as they could, and I graded it so I could share their progress with them. The next day I would return it so they could see how far they’d gotten. Depending how much time I had, I would either return it individually, let them peruse it for a few minutes, then move onto the daily lessons; or I would return it in small groups based on performance level (1s together, 2s together, etc.) and meet with them to go over the test and skills. I would usually spend time going over the next skills so they would have an immediate goal to focus on in class. I would only fit in a meeting with each group about once a week, but it was better than nothing. The kids seemed really motivated to progress and felt like they were ‘cheating’ because they got to see the test in advance. Click on the RESOURCES tab above to see examples of assessments for several grade levels.
I used the same exact test as a post-assessment, and the kids really loved being able to see the scales they’d already mastered and skip ahead to finish the test faster! Those who had gotten really far only had to complete scales 3-4. Those who had more to learn, had more work to do, but this was okay because it also helped me to manage the environment. I would have 1-2 “When You’re Done…” activities up on the board for the kids I knew would be done quickly. I made sure there were quieter areas of the room for the kids who would need the whole period to finish.
I didn’t feel like I was letting the kids “cheat” because first of all, there were usually 2-4 weeks between the time they took the assessment as a pre-test, and a post-test. It was very unlikely they were going to remember the problems. Secondly, kids learn through repetition and practice, and the more they get to see and hear the learning goals and examples, the more likely they will be conscious of their learning. When kids are conscious of their learning, they are much more likely to take ownership of it! THIS IS THE GOAL! Teach kids to realize that they have charge of their learning, not just me!
Research supports scales!
Check out some of the following citations…
“The starting place for all effective instruction is designing and communicating clear learning goals.”
“If teachers aren’t sure of instructional goals, their instructional activities will not be focused, and unfocused instructional activities do not engender student learning.
– Marzano 
– Stiggins 
“Learning targets convey to students the destination for the lesson – what to learn, how deeply to learn it, and exactly how to demonstrate their learning. In our estimation [Moss & Brookhart, 2009] and that of others [Seidle, Rimmele, & Prenzel, 2005; Stiggins, After, Chappuis & Chappuis, 2009], the intention of the lesson is one of the most important things students should learn. Without a precise description of where they are headed, too many students are “flying blind.”
– Moss, Brookhart, Long  Knowing Your Learning Target. Educational Leadership.
68 . pp.66-69.