Seeing the Whole: The Power of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model

The Marzano Model is a powerful tool for planning and delivering great instruction if you go with the flow.

I notice that many districts trained on the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model over a two-year period understand the parts of the Marzano Teacher Model, but they miss out on the power ofknowing the model as a whole, or the synergy created when all the parts are working together. Brain-based research teaches us that we learn best when we integrate wholes and parts. Let’s look at some of the “wholes” in the Marzano Model.

It starts with the standards (not the textbook!), organized to build on each other to form units that flow smoothly. Organizing a smooth flow with a steady build is addressed in Domain 2 of the Marzano Model, Effective Scaffolding of Lessons within Units and Information with Lessons, and should be discussed by the teacher and administrator at the planning conference.

•  For each standard, the “big ideas” that students must understand in order to grasp the standard become learning goals
•  Each learning goal is broken into chunks, Design Question 2, Chunking Content into “Digestible Bites”; the size of which is dependent on what students know.
•  For each chunk, the teacher goes through Design Question 2, Interacting with New Knowledge: previewing, processing, elaborating and recording.
•  And then with Design Question 3, Deepening New Knowledge, the teacher helps students further process and deepen the chunk of knowledge so students understand more fully.
•  When all chunks are complete, Design Question 4, Generating and Testing Hypothesesis designed and used as a culminating activity for the learning goal.

Teachers and students follow the same procedure for the next learning goal. When students successfully understand the learning goals, they have grasped the standard, and the teacher can move on to the next one.

By moving through Design Questions 2, 3 and 4, we have created a template for teaching for rigor. Teachers following this process will be getting students ready for Common Core State Standards and the accompanying PARCC or SBAC assessments. Most questions on the PARCC assessment will include questions at the Design Question 3 and 4 levels. At the Design Question 3 level, students deepen their knowledge by exploring similarities and differences and by examining errors in reasoning. At the Design Question 4 level, students are asked to analyze problems, generate and test hypotheses, and acquire critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

In most classrooms, teachers use Design Question 2, and then go back and process another chunk. With the many standards teachers have to cover, with too little time to do so, it is no wonder that it’s difficult for many classroom teachers to progress to Design Question 3, Deepening New Knowledge and Design Question 4, Generating and Testing Hypothesis. The number of standards teacher have to cover will shrink as Common Core is implemented, but the rigor teachers must teach to will deepen substantially. By using the three design questions in the Lesson Segment, Addressing Content we can move classroom instruction forward.

As with the orchestrated flow within Design Questions 2, 3, and 4, there is also an important flow from standards, learning goals, and chunks,that together make the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model a powerful tool for planning and delivering great instruction. By understanding how the whole model works, and using the synergy of its parts, teachers can get a better feel for designing units and lessons so students learn much more. Just go with the flow!

Got questions about how the model works as a whole? Ask them in the comments section below. And don’t forget to join us in Orlando for Marzano Conference 2013, Building Expertise! We’re looking for presenters. Find out more here.

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