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Education Standards: Complex Physics Algorithm or High School Student Research Skill Blueprints?

You probably recognize the state mandated standard curriculum format:  1SSC1PO1. This algorithm provides directives for research skill development at the high school level in social studies. It uses language such as “interpret,” “distinguish,” “compare,” and “evaluate” to communicate actions students are expected to perform in historical research. State standards are designed to give formal education programs a strong foundation and infrastructure.  And museums can use them, too.

The Arizona Historical Society (AHS) recognized the need to align educational programming to the standards. While AHS has successfully accomplished this goal, the path to success wasn’t clear. We struggled to answer the questions “Where do we begin?”, “How do we determine what standards apply to our institution?”, and “Should all of our programs be aligned to the standards?”

Through our experience (and to simplify the process), we came up with the following recommendations for aligning your programs with the state standards. If you have already developed and implemented successful alignments, follow Plan “A”. If you are not completely developed and/or implemented, follow Plan “B”.

 

Plan A

Step 1: Outline the major themes and topics covered in your programs (e.g. Civil War, Industrial Revolution, and Colonialism).

Step 2: Identify the target audience of the program.

Step 3: Locate the standard for your target audience.

Step 4: Review the appropriate standard performance objectives for the actions/skills expected of your target audience.

Step 5: Integrate the language and goals of the state mandated curriculum into your program components.

Step 6: Combine all relevant standards in a single document.

Step 7: Provide copies of the combined standards document to educators when you promote your educational programs.

 

Plan B

Step 1: Identify the target audience of the program.

Step 2: Locate the standard for your target audience.

Step 3: Review the appropriate standard performance objectives for the actions/skills expected of your target audience.

Step 4: Create your programs’ themes, topics, and goals.

Step 5: Integrate the language and goals of the state mandated curriculum into your program components.

Step 6: Combine all relevant standards in a single document.

Step 7: Provide copies of the combined standards document to educators when you promote your educational programs.

At AHS, we have a large collection of World War II resources.  We made it a priority to share these resources with educators by aligning museum materials (Living Historians, galleries, artifacts, community members’ stories, archives, interpretations, etc.) to state standards.  Please see example.

When applying standards, I recommend beginning with the Social Studies standard.  After matching programs themes to curricular benchmarks, look to other content areas to integrate into learning plans.  Many museums stop at the social studies standard, often not realizing how many other content areas are intertwined into museum exhibitions and programs.  For example, here are 3 performance objectives from the state standards, besides history, that are weaved into AHS educational resources:

1.    Mathematics – 7th Grade/Statistics & Probability (7.SP.3.) Draw informal comparative inferences about two populations. and 7.MP.1-7 Mathematical Practices)

 2.    Science – 5th Grade/Inquiry Process (Concept 1) Formulate predictions, questions, or hypotheses based on observations.  Locate appropriate resources. (P.O. 1-3)

 3.     English Language Arts – Kindergarten/Reading:      Literature (Common Core – Arizona      Adaptation) Actively engage in      group reading of informational and functional texts, including      history/social studies, science, and technical texts, with purpose and      understanding.

There are many museums out there using the standards in an interactive and customized way to help teachers better understand what type of learning they can expect for their students.  The Smithsonian developed their website to search the programs and resources by specific states’ standards – http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/.  Different types of museums investigate the connections between what states determine is essential knowledge to what is present in the museum’s collections, archives, and interpretations.

An example of a private museum clearly laying out standard-aligned tours is theCharlesSchulzMuseuminCalifornia.  This museum’s educational tours are aligned to K-6 California state standards in language and visual arts.  The standards are posted to the website for free access to educators in advance of scheduling tours.

Author: Megan Gately, Education Program Coordinator at the Arizona Historical Society

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