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You probably have somewhere in the vicinity of 100 days remaining until the final school bells ring and summer vacation begins.  I’m sure many of us are asking ourselves, “Where did the first semester go?”  In a blink of an eye, we have already completed one-half of the school year.

Reflect and Task

Before we move forward and focus on these next 100 days, let’s reflect on what your students learned this past semester.  Take out a pen and paper and create a three-column table. I’ll wait. Title the first column Standards/Skills, the second column Content Curriculum, and the third Pre/Post Assessment Results. Focusing on column one, write down the major skills/standards students were expected to master during the first semester.  In column two, write down the content that was taught during the skill building.  Finally, in column three, write down the percentages of your pre-assessment and post-assessment results based on student proficiency of skills learned.  The link below will open the table of my first semester results:

Semester One Skills and Proficiency Table

There were other minor skills taught during the semester, but the table shows the three major standards I focused on this semester in my class.  The first number in the last column of the table represents the percent of students that were already proficient in the skill prior to instruction and the second number represents the percent of students proficient after instruction. (Note: The post-assessment material on the final exam was brand new text that students read for the first time.)

What I learned

Based on this data, I can see that I need to revise my method of teaching how to write an argument since only 50% of my students were able to master all components of an argument paper (bright side;  none of my students were able to develop an argument essay before instruction). In addition, we’ll spend more time practicing theme and central idea, a difficult concept for my students and continue working on making inferences.  The bottom line is that I have hard evidence of what my students are able to do. This will help me guide my instruction for semester two.

Moving Forward

It is vital to focus around the skills we want our students to master.  When we concentrate on content and instructional activities, skills and standards take a back seat.  Try this:

Choose a standard from the Common Core State Standards.

Create an assessment that will measure proficiency of this standard.

Add content curriculum that is relevant and engaging.

Incorporate proven instructional strategies that will help build the skills.

Implementing the Common Core will guide you through the SACI process of unit design focusing on standards.

It is only by re-shifting our focus around standards that will better prepare our students to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Do you want an overview of our SACI unit design process? Email us at and we’ll send you the pdf of Overview of SACI.