"I can multiply to solve word problems using equations."
"I can describe characters using details from the text."
These are just two "I can " statements that Bush Elementary School fourth graders are incorporating into their daily lessons in English Language Arts and math. Bush fourth-grade teachers took Common Core Standards for fourth-grade English and math and broke each one down into individual, kid-friendly language. They also aligned the statements to their curriculum maps. In some cases, one common core standard became four or five "I can " statements. The "I can " statements are posted throughout the classrooms.
Bush Elementary School fourth-graders Ayden Bonta and Dominik Pocza wrote in their “I can ...” statements in their data binders.
"The 'I can ' statements give a specific and clear purpose for both the teacher and for the students," said Bush Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Tiffany MacCallum. "We have always completed lesson plans with objectives, but now we are pinpointing and analyzing exactly what the students need to learn, did they learn it and if not, what do we need to do as teachers to help students master the skills."
Students write the "I can " statement in their Data binders. The binders hold all of the data for each student for the quarter. They keep all of their test scores and "I can " statements in the appropriate section. These binders go home to parents once a week. Parents are asked to review what their child is learning and write an encouraging letter to their child regarding their goals and achievement. The teachers want the students to be able to read, understand and self-assess common core standards. Using the "I can " statements gives them a way to do that.
The teachers develop formative assessments based on the standards and "I can " statements. These formative assessments are the tools teachers use to create small intervention groups. The students also look at the test results, enter them in their Data binders and then, self-assess their understanding of each standard. They have three choices: "I got it," "I'm getting it" or "I need help." Based on the student's response, assessment scores and the teacher's input, students are placed in groups to either have the skill re-taught or give students who "got it" enrichment opportunities.
"The 'I can ' statements allow students to be invested in their education," said fourth-grade teacher Amy Vezina. "They can keep track of their progress in the Data binders and understand why they are placed in specific groups for help or enrichment. They also seem to better comprehend what they are learning, and just as importantly, why. They are able to see how the skills relate and build upon prior learning."
The students also understand the importance of the "I can " statements.
"We have the 'I can ' statements for both math and English. I have to write down the statement and then once I learn about it and have a test on it, I see whether or not I got it," said Bush Elementary School fourth-grader Simeon Howie. "I really think it helps me understand what I am doing. Like when we were learning place value questions in math, I had to show it both in word form and expanded form. I never used to understand why I needed to know how to write numbers different ways. Writing the 'I can ' statements helps me focus on what I'm supposed to be learning and get better at it."