Our state education standards give us guidelines as to what skills should be taught in each grade level. As teachers, though, we know that the students we work with every day don't all come into our class ready for "grade level" work. Some students have already mastered these skills and are ready for something more. Other students need more basic, foundational skills to help get them closer to the standards.
DesCartes is a tool from NWEA that lists skills from simple to more complex/difficult. If your school uses NWEA MAP assessments, you can easily use students' RIT scores to match them to the skills that the assessment shows that they are ready to be working on right now in class. If you are not using the MAP assessments, DesCartes can still be a great tool for seeing the continuum of skills, understanding what skills come before and after those you think of as on "grade level" so that you can more easily plan lessons for students who need more basic skills and so that you have direction for the students who are ready for a bigger challenge.
These planning pages are designed to help you think about the skills that are most important for each student, as they relate to the standards we are required to teach.
1) Choose a standard or concept on which the instruction will focus.
2) Highlight the DesCartes skills that relate to that standard/concept.
Consider: What skills to students need to get to the standard? What comes next for students who have already mastered the standard?
3) Enter students' names in the boxes based on the MAP RIT scores. If your students have not taken the MAP test, use a pretest or previous classroom assessment data to determine what skills students are ready to learn.
4) Plan instruction for the largest group of students, including:
If your student groups are similar in size, plan for the highest group first.
5) Adjust lesson plans for students who need more support or those ready for more of a challenge. (You may not always have both.)
Not all parts of the lesson have to be changed. For example, you may choose to use the same activity and resources, but adapt the assessment.