Standards – Yes, “I can”

At the beginning of a unit, I give my students an “I can” sheet of everything they need to be able to do by the end of that unit. The “I can” statements are grouped under student-friendly questions based on the indicators.

For example:

5-3.5 Summarize the reasons for the United States control of new territories as a result of the Spanish American War and the building of the Panama Canal, including the need for raw materials and new markets and competition with other world powers.


Why did the United States control new territories after the Spanish-American War?

  • I can explain how the need for raw materials and new markets lead to imperialism
  • I can summarize the causes and effects of the Spanish-American War on the United States
  • I can explain the reasons the United States controlled new territories
  • I can summarize the reasons for the building of the Panama Canal
  • Vocabulary: imperialism, Spanish-American War, yellow journalism, U.S.S. Maine

Notice that the actual Spanish-American War is not mentioned in the indicator, just the result. I think in order to understand the effect of something, you need to understand what the something was – hence the “I can summarize the causes and effects of the Spanish-American War. This idea is based partly on Marzano’s setting goals and objectives. In the workbook, it suggests that you create a guide for each unit with the essential vocabulary and concepts that students will be expected to understand.

Ways to use:

  • I use this sheet to plan out my interactive notebook handouts/activities to make sure I don’t “miss anything” – I also use it to review my tests to make sure each indicator is represented.
  • I project this at the beginning of each class instead of writing objectives on the board.
  • I have the students read over the statements after we have finished our lesson and rate themselves on their understanding.
  • It is a goal of mine for this to become their study guide for their tests.

4 comments so far

  1. […] I unit and had access to ten copies of America Enters World War I. The book addressed most of the I Can statements my students had to master for the unit, so I decided to jump in and see […]

  2. Ginger Cook on

    you mentioned a workbook, is it one we can purchase? please share!

  3. mrsgannon on

    Yes, Marzano’s Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Woorks

  4. Rebecca on

    Reading about your note taking strategies in other entries, I find your idea of forming the standards into simple, student-friendly questions exciting. Not only is the format easier for the students to understand, but it is also easier to prepare lessons that truly do follow the standards. I like your suggestions of how to use the “I can” statements in preparing for assessments. Formatting unit and lesson objectives in “I can” statements is fairly recent (within the last ten years), but the focus has been on making sure the language is student-friendly. Although that is definitely necessary, I believe your ideas have the potential to empower students and help them view themselves as effective learners because they know what skills and concepts they need to grasp. The lesson planning application seems like a highly effective way to completely cover the standards while also focusing on the necessary skills.
    Study guides formatted around the “I can statements” reinforces the importance of the statements and the standard they correspond with. At first, I was concerned about students being able to just passively use the list of statements to evaluate their own understanding and shape their test preparation. The use of these statements still allows students to interact with the content and record their knowledge instead of mentally assessing their knowledge.

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