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: What is standards-based education?

A: A standard is a description of what students should know and be able to do. By definition, educational standards let everyone—students, teachers, parents, and administrators—know what students are expected to learn. Standards are designed to answer four basic questions: 1) What do we want students to know and be able to do? 2) How well do we want them to know and do those things? 3) How will we know if students know and can do those things? and 4) How can we redesign schooling to ensure that we get the results we want? Standards are designed to help students be responsible for their own learning, become good thinkers and problem-solvers, and know what quality work looks like. Standards-based education engages students, not only in the learning process but also in knowing what is expected of them.

Your response to this question should be direct, detailed, and descriptive. Don't try to "wing it." Make sure you know exactly what you're talking about and that you clearly understand all the necessary terms.

: Please describe the difference between content standards, benchmarks, and performance standards.

A: Content standards describe what students should know or be able to do in ten content areas: language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, health, physical education, world languages, career and life skills, and educational technology. Benchmarks make clear what students should know and be able to do at four different grade spans: K to 3, 4 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 12. Performance standards answer the questions "What does good performance look like?" and "How good is good enough?"

As with the previous question, know your "stuff." Show that you've done your homework ahead of time and that you are knowledgeable about the role of standards in curriculum design and effective teaching.

: What can you tell me about reading-comprehension instruction?

A: Many teachers subscribe to the notion that reading involves an active and energetic relationship between the reader and the text. The reader-text relationship is reciprocal and involves the characteristics of the reader as well as the nature of the materials. This is often referred to as a transactional approach to reading, and it is based on two primary principles successfully used by teachers around the country. First, reading is a lived-through experience or event. Children "evoke" the text, bringing a network of past experiences with the world, language, and other texts. Second, the meaning is neither in the child nor in the text, but in the reciprocal transaction between the two. This approach highlights three critical stages in the reading process: 1) Before Reading—This involves those processes designed to link students' background knowledge to text; 2) During Reading—These are processes designed to help students read constructively and interact with the text; and 3) After Reading, the processes designed to deepen and extend students' responses to text.

If you are an elementary teacher, you will be asked questions about the teaching of reading. Count on it! If you are a secondary teacher, you should also prepare yourself with information about reading instruction in the content areas. It could make a difference.

: What is a balanced reading program?

A: A balanced reading program is one in which students are provided with direct instruction, a support structure, and opportunities to utilize reading strategies in meaningful text. In short, they are encouraged, supported, and sustained in many literacy activities throughout the entire elementary curriculum. These activities can be divided into eight categories: 1) reading aloud to children; 2) shared book experience; 3) guided reading; 4) individualized reading; 5) paired reading; 6) sustained silent reading; 7) language exploration; and 8) reading and writing. A balanced reading program occurs when teachers work to integrate reading into all subject areas and all parts of the instructional day. It's an opportunity for students to see reading as an integral foundation of the overall curriculum.

Again, know (or re-learn) how reading is taught. Be prepared to express both the breadth and depth of your knowledge. Make sure you know what you're talking about.

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