Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum – Marzano Chapter 3

OTL = Opportunity to Learn
3 types of curricula: intended, implemented and attained
Intended – specified by state
Implemented – what is delivered by the teacher
Attained – what is actually learned by students

The time factor – Marzano does some calculation of the amount of time available in the US for instruction. He then calculates the amount of time it would take to deliver this instruction and there is a huge discrepancy.
I wonder: about the data used to determine the time for deliver. He states that classroom teachers were asked how much time it would take to deliver the instruction and that was the basis for the discrepancy. He’s quoting his own research (p. 24) and I suppose I’m supposed to take that at face value. Also, he bases this calculation on instructional objectives which he then proceeds to unravel. I’m not really following this.

1. Identify content which is essential for all versus that which is supplemental only for postsecondary education.
Ummm, okay, but who is going to determine which students are denied the supplemental material? I know that decision is inadvertently or unconsciously made every day, but it shouldn’t be. I remember how surprised I was to learn in college how many of the guys I knew really didn’t take high school seriously until junior or senior year. Luckily, they hadn’t been locked out of higher education prior to their motivational upgrade. In our area, I see students dismissed all the time, even some of the young children I teach. While I believe discriminating curriculum may have value, I’m concerned about discriminating between students. There are schools where the postsecondary rate is well over 90%. Certainly there are factors which contribute to this high rate, but (I don’t know our percentage) I believe our schools need to make a more concerted effort to find MORE students for postsecondary, not to limit opportunities through curriculum choice. (Efforts toward this end are being made by County Executive Shue.)

Marzano also talks about ‘unpacking’ benchmarks and uses an example from 5th grade regarding fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (p. 27) Most of the groundwork for this benchmark has already been accomplished in earlier grades, using the time available in those grades. The skills necessary for a sprinter to run the 50 yard dash began in infancy. Does the high school track coach need to have all of those skills unpacked and make sure there’s time to cover them? Once the athlete arrives in high school, it’s a matter of practice, maybe a little tweaking, but mostly practice which may or may not take up coaching time. I just wonder if this whole time concept isn’t somewhat flawed by assumptions regarding curricula delivery and learning. Throw in some technology availability as well as well-assigned homework and the time issue becomes even more muddy. Sure we need to guard our instructional time, but the time we have is the time we have. Not only do we need to use it more effectively, we need to INSPIRE OUR STUDENTS TO USE THEIR TIME MORE EFFECTIVELY BY CONNECTING CURRICULA TO LIFE EXPERIENCE.

2. Ensure content can be covered in time allotted.
See above, plus, the new TN standards will be beneficial in this area.
Question: Why do I have to teach Reading using mainly fictional texts? Why aren’t we calling Science and Social Studies content area Reading? I can teach main idea and details, cause and effect, vocabulary, phonics and phonemic awareness using non-fiction texts. My students LOVE non-fiction. In the end, do I really care if my children can sequence a Henry and Mudge story? They need to know the relationship between city, county, state and country or the sequence of insect development. Two birds one book?

3. Sequence and organize content so students have ample opportunity to learn it.
See above. Teach across content areas. Incorporate learning from one area to another so students have additional opportunities.

4. Ensure teachers teach content.

5. Protect instructional time.

I’ll assume that assessing whether students have learned content will be covered in succeeding chapters.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm  Comments (13)  

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    I wondered if it might interest you to cross-reference how this site digested Marzano’s material? If you google, “guaranteed and viable curriculum’, there is also an excellent power point that can be downloaded.

  2. Teachers would need to consistently balance the time they spend on instructional activities and strategies. In addition, local school administrative support of teachers in meeting all requirements is also needed. Truly following grade level requirements yearly will help in this effort. However, there is so much curriculum that is required for students and sometimes this can become difficult for teachers when they are ready to move on but some students haven’t gathered the concept. The vast amount of information can also be overwhelming for some students.
    Teaching is a balancing act most days, but effective and passionate teachers seem to get the job accomplished.

  3. Marzano’s work is based on the premise that the reader and user of his research isn’t already doing what needs to be done. Using that framework, I agree that we need to know what we are supposed to teach, monitor what we actually teach, and then assess what the students have learned to determine if reteaching is neccessary. Unpacking standards is also important because teachers must truly understand what it is that they are supposed to be teaching. The exercise of unpacking hopefully assists them in the backward design model of identifying the what and then the assessment so they can determine the how.

    • Joseph,
      I think you are correct, once teachers understand the standards they can instruct then assess and reteach so that all students can learn.

    • Yep, teachers have to understand and that is part of the problem. I have witnessed English teachers incorrectly identify the verbs! What hope is there then??

  4. Time is always a factor for teachers! Unpacking the standards is only one part. Teachers must begin to unpack and integrate the standards for students to see and make connections. Teaching in isolation does take a long time. However, integrating the standards will yield more time to teach for understanding!

  5. Reading should be taught using both fiction and non-fiction materials. Both have value in understanding relationships that students will encounter. Non-fiction readings will show sequential relationships and fiction materials show relationships that are not always orderly. The ability to recognize both types of relationships is essential in the learning process.

  6. Teaching and learning,what a heck of a statment. I know most teachers,know and understand the curriculum, instruct their students, an assess students to determine if the learning process is taking place. If the learning process has not taken place, data is used to locate areas of concern and reteaching begins.

  7. In a perfect world, the students who enter their classrooms on the first day of school would come prepared with all of the prerequisite skills previously taught to them in their earlier grades, but in reality, this is usually not the case. Many students enter a grade level with gaps for numerous reasons (ineffective teacher, family problems, medical issues), and teachers cannot leave these students behind. If the students do not have a solid foundation, then it is necessary for their teachers to help them by identifying the students’ weaknesses and by helping students learn the scaffolding skills they need to know before moving forward. This is essential for students to be successful.

    Reading can and should be integrated when teaching other core classes like social studies and science, but it should not take the place of a student receiving direct reading instruction. A reading teacher teaches students phonics, phonemic awareness, how to decode words, and how to use context clues when reading an unknown word. When the purpose is to teach the child how to read, none of these things are overlooked, but when a student is reading in science and in social studies classes, the purpose is to learn science and social studies. Often the students’ textbooks are written on a higher grade level. The reading in science and social studies needs to be supplemental to what they are getting when learning how to read, not instead of the research based books and materials students use in their reading programs.

    • Exactly – we need to meet students where they are and help close the achievement gap. How can we continue to teach when students do not have the pre-requiste skills? Teachers need to attack this with creativity and an open mind. If we only stay in our 4 walls, then we will never collaborate for what is best for students.

  8. Wow- there is so much here to comment on. I find it is all in the instructional planning. What gets taught and how it is taught matters. Math I and 2 is a great example of a good concept gone wrong. it is futile to assess the viability of content curriculum if teachers have never implemented it correctly or with any competence. As long as Math Support classes are simply study halls without previewing, reviewing or enrichment then we will never know what time was needed to cover the content, if the content was developmentally appropriate or if it was simply a waste of money.

  9. Great posts gang, sorry I’m late getting in but I agree with everything said. Going back to the words guaranteed and viable – too often I think we rely on the “intended” or written curriculum to satisfy the guaranteed terminology. However Peg’s point is a good one with regard to Math. Unless teachers are able to effectively translate the intended curriculum into instruction which accounts for all of the student expectations represented in the curriculum, the guarantee is not valid.

    I think this is where learning gaps begin. It is up to us as the teachers and leaders to ensure a guaranteed curriculum is represented in both the written or “intended” curriculum and the actual learning experiences each student receives.

  10. Schmoker (2006) says if education would respond to the brutal facts the way the medical field did in 1910 education would be transformed. It would be nice to have students that come all on the same grade level with the skills necessary to master the information we are responsible for delivering. The fact is they come. Some need personalized instruction in reading, some in math, and some in both. Within reading and math there are many specific skills they lack. We must know where they are and tailor instruction. Time management is an issue. However, most every classroom could use time more efficiently. Administrators must protect this time and make sure teachers are using it effectively. Teaching may be a science, but those who have mastered the art of teaching are the ones making a difference.

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