We live in a world of acronyms:  ATM, NCLB, AYP, JPEG, ACT, lol.  Core 4 All would like to add another acronym to our vocabulary: SACI.
SACI is a synthetic approach for analyzing Standards, creating Assessments, building relevant Curriculum and basing Instruction on high yield strategies.

Focus on the four pillars of SACI:

Standards that focus on clear learning targets
    Assessments as indicators to monitor student progress
        Curriculum that is viable, relevant and engages students  
           Instruction that is proven to work and aligns with standards

One of the minds that Howard Gardner discusses in his book, 5 Minds for the Future, is synthesizing.  

The synthesizing mind takes information from disparate sources, understands and evaluates that information objectively, and puts it together in ways that make sense to the synthesizer and also to other persons. Valuable in the past, the capacity to synthesize becomes ever more crucial as information continues to mount at dizzying rates.   Gardner (2008)

The Core 4 All mission is to improve learning at higher levels for all using the Common Core State Standards and the SACI approach.

SACI is a synthetic framework using best practice drawing from all disciplines in education.

Let’s take a look at the S in the Core 4 All SACI Unit Design process.

Standards – specific criteria for what students are expected to know (understandings) and be able to do (skills) (Lexicon of Learning ASCD)

Successful teacher-created implementation of the Common Core State Standards will ensure that all students are prepared for post-secondary opportunities, whether a four-year university, junior college, technical training, military, or the workforce.  Although the literacy standards are divided into Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Language, Common Core insists that literacy development be a shared responsibility among all teachers and all content areas.  The content areas of English Language Arts, History/Social Science, Mathematics, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, Physical Education, and Technical Subjects all share general, cross-disciplinary College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards; however, specific literacy standards are tailor made for each grade level and content area. Since interdisciplinary literacy development is the focus of the Common Core State Standards, these standards will provide consistency for teachers and students as they communicate their learning experiences with one another whether at the school, district, state, or national level. Common standards provide teachers with opportunities to discuss strategies at conferences, workshops, and in professional learning communities.  Common Core State Standards are the building blocks needed to create assessments, design curriculum, and implement research based instructional strategies.

Here is an example of how to begin with the standard when creating a unit.

Common Core State Standard:  Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 8, Craft and Structure (p.36)

Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

The goal is for students to become proficient in this skill.  It is not to just place or “align” the standard into existing curriculum.  This is a shift in mindset.  In order to improve our students’ achievement, it is vital that we start with the standard and ask ourselves, “How are we going to ensure that our students master this skill?” It starts with breaking down and explicitly teaching the components of the standard.  This cannot be a guessing game for students.  Students need to be able to look at the standard as a whole, but also work with its parts. 

Back to our standard      

Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

We must take the time, before delving into any content, to break down the standard into meaningful chunks.  Students must be taught how to compare and contrast.  They must be taught how to analyze. We can’t assume students are familiar with these skills. Also, students must understand and be able to use the words structure, text, differing, contribution, meaning, and style in various activities during the unit. 

If we are going to make an impact on student achievement, it must start with a solid foundation of agreed-upon standards that professional learning teams select when revising units of study.

Challenge

Select a standard from the Common Core. Break it apart into meaningful pieces.  Think about three things.

  1. What is it that students will need to be able to do?
  2. What concepts need to be understood
  3. How would you go about teaching those components? 

If you haven’t done so, please subscribe to this educational blog by clicking on the link on the right side of the screen (Free E-mail Subscription).  The Core 4 All team is comprised of teachers and administrators in the field of education.  We are putting into practice what we are preaching and we are seeing great results.

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