At UnboundEd, we believe that adopting aligned mathematics and ELA instructional materials is a critical equity move for schools; curricula aligned with high standards have the potential to maximize learning by holding all students to rigorous expectations. Making the choice to adopt aligned materials is an important step—but, as we’ve learned, adoption is very much just a first step toward equity in schools. How do we bring these high-quality curricula to life in the classroom? We’re excited to share the UnboundEd Planning Process, or what we affectionately call “UPP,” a process that involves three “reads” of a lesson plan. By way of introduction to UPP, we’ve developed three videos that explain our planning process to help you enact grade-level instruction that engages all of your students. This blog post focuses on what we call, “Read 1: Determine a prioritized learning goal to clarify the lesson outcome.”
In our ongoing research and collaborative work in schools, we’ve noticed a trend in how adept teachers prepare to teach with aligned materials. In both mathematics and ELA, strong teachers begin their planning by prioritizing a single, clear goal for the lesson. This goal is aligned to grade-level standards and explicitly defines what is most important for students to walk away knowing and/or being able to do after the lesson. Notably, doing this doesn’t alter the intent of the original lesson; rather, it makes more explicit how the lesson is working in service of the learning. The prioritized goal offers a clear benefit from an equity perspective; having a prioritized, grade-level target helps to ensure that we do not unintentionally continue to marginalize some students by offering them access only to a watered-down version of the day’s learning. It’s easier for us to perpetuate unequal outcomes for students by claiming that “they all got it” when the “it” is vague or multi-tiered.
“Read 1” involves reading the lesson, identifying the important learning in the lesson, writing the goal, and then checking for alignment between the goal and formative assessment materials.
Having a clear, prioritized goal:
- helps teachers plan more efficiently and see where they may need to provide support to help their students access grade-level learning.
- gives coaches the opportunity to focus coaching on how to make the most important learning meaningful, engaging, and affirming for students.
- brings students clarity about the point of their assignments, and allows them to take greater ownership of their own learning.
TNTP’s The Opportunity Myth report found that students of color are less likely to be given opportunities to engage with grade-level assignments; we believe that using aligned grade-level materials as a basis for instruction, and narrowing in on a prioritized, clear goal, makes it more likely that all students will be offered such opportunities.
We’re excited to offer the UnboundEd Planning Process professional learning videos as educators continue to be resilient in the face of disrupted learning and planning challenges for the new school year. We hope you check them out, share with your colleagues, and let us know what you think!