I know it’s difficult to be thankful for new TEKS when they are not exactly what we would have written ourselves; some seem too vague and others are out of left field. After years of teaching and analyzing state assessments, I can assure you it is the verb in the TEKS we need to focus on and develop our lessons around. So, as you are going through the new TEKS this year and focusing your lessons to meet the new challenges of the STARR Assessments or EOC Exams, carefully read and reread the TEKS which cover the content you are going to teach while focusing on the verb and the outcome expected of the student. The verb will explicitly direct you to the level of questioning and depth you should cover the material in class. Honestly, we over-teach some material and other material we are not teaching in-depth enough. If our kids are going to be successful on the new state assessments, we have to prepare our lessons and activities to reflect the level of understanding the state is looking for from our students.
When working with the new TEKS at my desk, I actually highlight the verb and immediately compare it with a classic Bloom’s Taxonomy hierarchy I keep on my desk to refer to as I develop and redevelop existing lessons. For example, the state last year may have simply used the language “the student should be able to identify” where they are now asking that “the student should be able to compare and contrast“. This verb change takes the learning to a whole new level. In turn, you will have to tweek your old lesson to meet that change. If the TEK I used as an example were regarding the concept of cell organelles, this simple “verb” trick will let you know you can no longer just teach the kids to memorize a picture or be able to recognize and identify an organelle when drawn or labeled by its function. Now, students have to consider both the form and function of the organelles to be able to do the higher-level cognitive task of comparing and contrasting their form and/or functions within the same cell or between plants and/or animals. WOW~ That’s a big leap! I will say that the cognitive levels have moved up the pyramid quite a bit and we are expecting more out of our students. Consequently our lessons and activities will have to be more multi-functional than ever because the amount of time we have with the kids has not increased. We really have to plan well to yield a bigger bang for our buck. Trust the verbs in the TEKS and make sure your quizzes and other forms of assessments are written to assess the students at that level of understanding. This alignment will make the transition to the new state assessments easier for everyone.