Plan Labs with Assessments, School Calendars in Mind

I have written a lab about quarks. The problem is there are no Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) about quarks. The only standards that refer to the nucleus is about protons and neutrons. How can I align my lab with standards that don’t exist?

—Gary, Illinois

This is a great question which leads to the purpose of performance expectations (What are students to learn?) for states that have adopted NGSS and other states using their own state science standards. In either case, students will have a comprehensive assessment and it is important that we, as teachers, follow a trifecta of alignment with 1.) performance expectations, 2.) instructional delivery and 3.) assessment. I’m sure you designed a great lab on quarks and I would never negate your hard work and time, but if there is no performance expectation written, then I suggest you hold off on scheduling the lab. You are ultimately charged with preparing your students for successful understanding of the performance expectations. Instructional time is sacred. Whether your students are assessed by an end of course exam, semester final, or other performance task, you want your students ready.

To help keep focused on that goal, try planning backwards: Find out when your culminating assessment is scheduled. Then think about your school calendar. When are your formative and summative assessments? When do your terms end? What days do you know that little instruction will happen due to assemblies or school-wide events? Include these dates on your teaching calendar to help map out the time you have to teach all of the significant performance expectations within your designed units of study. Planning is key!

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