The Common Core Standards can be difficult to interpret. The question asked by teachers is, what do the standard mean? Or, so what exactly am I supposed to teach? The best tools that I've created for my classroom was a skills list. The process of building the skills list took me through every standard required for Algebra 1. It was a bit overwhelming, but I am so happy with how it turned out!

I went week by week and thought about what did my students need to understand and be able actually to do by the end of every week.

I didn't complicate things with questions like can they collaborate and can they problem solve and can they etc. All of those 21st-century skills we've had drilled into our heads for so long. While they are vital, this is not the place.

I created a simple list of the skills I wanted my students to be able to do by the end of each week using the lessons incorporating all of those critical things.

This skills list was modified and given to my students. At the end of each week, I gave the assessments that I shared with you in the bonus pack to address these skills.

Every Friday the kids took a quiz. On Monday they got those quizzes back. And there was no grade at the top. Yes, there were panic attacks for a while.

We take a moment and discuss the results. On each problem was a number one through four. A one means they tried something. If they didn't try something they earned a zero and a four means mastered. A three was close but not perfect, and a two meant that they were on their way to understanding it, but they didn't get it yet.

This simple rubric is on my wall. It's one of the main bulletin board that we go out back to often.

The students then record the results onto their skill sheet. There's a separate skill sheet for the students it's numbered one through five at the top, and every time they try the assessment for that skill they put their score into the box.

You can see a sample of this process below.

 Every Friday they get a chance to redo the needed skills and do the new skills we worked on that week.

You will see in the unit one assessment's weekly assessments that some of the skills repeat and if you keep going into unit two, you'll see that all the skills will repeat. This repetition is because they are formative assessments we want the students to have a chance to improve and understand what they do and do not know before the unit test.

Once the students earn a four twice in a row, they no longer need to do that skill. But I refuse to keep track of that for them.

They absolutely must know what they need to work on to improve.

This way of thinking about the student's learning did take some training in the beginning, but boy did it pay off!

The biggest surprise I got by using this system is that the parents loved it. Parents were able to look at that skill sheet and know what their child did or did not understand the content.

So many parents hear Common Core and panic that they will not be able to help their child. This skills list show them exactly what their child will need to learn to be successful. I also went over where they could find some resources to help their student and how to find those resources online at the open house. (A little bit of work up front saved me hours later!)

Below is a link where you can download the skills list. I hope you find them as useful with your students as I have found them with mine. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I love hearing from you!
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