With the explosion of Marzano framework for teacher evaluations, and Marzano Scales refocusing classroom instruction, I get a lot of questions from teachers trying to figure out how to write their own scales to meet district or state requirements. A few months ago I wrote about How to Write Specific Marzano Scales, where I detailed my use of content standards (primarily Common Core), and some related resources to align content from previous grade levels to provide the background and foreground for each level of a scale. I’ve found so much success with this approach because I didn’t have to guess what my students were exposed to last year – I could feel confident that my levels 1 and 2 were skills they would recognize, if not have mastered already. I call this a CONTENT approach to creating a scale.
The problem is, that this strategy only works when the content from previous grade levels relates to yours… for instance, if you teach the Common Core 4th Grade Math standards you may have noticed that angle measurement seems to come out of nowhere, and just as quickly drops off the curriculum until 7th grade. What’s a linear thinker to do if there’s no common thread connecting the curriculum from one grade level to the next?
In addition to aligning CONTENT, you can consider COGNITIVE SKILLS. Cognitive skills are just thinking skills. You may be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy or Marzano’s Taxonomy which present thinking skills in an organized sequence from easiest to hardest. For me it was easiest to think of the relationship between CONTENT and COGNITIVE SKILLS as NOUNS and VERBS. The content includes the things that students should know, and the cognitive skills include the mental or physical actions that students should be able to do. Below are a few examples of resources I use. These come in handy when I could find no content from previous grade levels to align to my current learning goal.