• I-A-1: Subject Matter Knowledge
    Unsatisfactory
    Needs Improvement
    Proficient
    Exemplary
    Demonstrates limited knowledge of the subject matter and/or its pedagogy; relies heavily on textbooks or resources for development of the factual content. Rarely engages students in learning experiences focused on complex knowledge or skills in the subject. Demonstrates factual knowledge of subject matter and the pedagogy it requires by sometimes engaging students in learning experiences around complex knowledge and skills in the subject. Demonstrates sound knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and the pedagogy it requires by consistently engaging students in learning experiences that enable them to acquire complex knowledge and skills in the subject. Demonstrates expertise in subject matter and the pedagogy it requires by engaging all students in learning experiences that enable them to synthesize complex knowledge and skills in the subject. Is able to model this element.
    Why Proficiency in this Element Matters
    • Subject Matter Knowledge extends beyond knowing a lot about something.  It suggests that both educators and students think in a disciplined manner that they can apply to a multitude of places and situations.  It also suggests that going deep into content yields richer learning.
    • Having deep content knowledge is not enough if you’re picking an inappropriate instructional model to meet student learning needs.  Overvaluing content knowledge over differentiating pedagogical approaches encourages low Depth-of-Knowledge (DOK) Levels and discourages persistent student learning.
    • In the long run, superficial Subject Matter Knowledge stunts teacher growth and development, making it hard for teachers to adjust to curricular changes, to transfer professional learning/development to other contexts, and to be an effective contributor within a team and across the school.
    Reflection Questions

    These questions may help to assess how effectively common obstacles to consistent/sustained proficiency in this element are addressed

    For Educators For Evaluators/Coaches
    Could your actions, speech, and learning objectives in class intentionally or unintentionally communicate to students that simply knowing about something is the criteria for success for a lesson or in the classroom?

    What does the word “understand” mean to the students of the educator you’re supporting?  Does s/he exhibit evidence of practice that supports the sustained learning of complex knowledge and skills?  

    Do you tend to favor one specific model for teaching or do you implement multiple models for teaching from your pedagogical toolbox?  Can you articulate to both a reluctant learner and an evaluator/coach how and why a specific model is most appropriate to use for a specific content or standard? Does the educator you’re supporting rely too heavily on instructional approaches that favor transmission of knowledge (DOK Levels 1-2), or does s/he consistently and effectively differentiate teaching models to ensure higher DOK learning?
    In what ways do you ensure that your lessons or units connect from student prior knowledge to the MA Frameworks, and ultimately, to authentic and sustained learning that can be applied to many real-world situations?   How does the educator’s knowledge of the content matter translate into observable pedagogical approaches and assessable student learning as defined by the MA Frameworks?  For example, does the educator provide authentic, real world learning experiences that lead students to think and act like a scientist in a science lesson?
     Can you articulate how your pedagogical approach puts the responsibility of shaping subject matter content into learning in the hands of your students?  Would an outside observer reasonably interpret that the bulk of the cognitive work is being done by your students?  Would your students be able to explain to an outside observer what they’re learning and why it’s important to their education? Based on the learning objectives, is the educator making appropriate pedagogical decisions to ensure that students ultimately are equipped and responsible for meaning making rather than relying on the educator to make meaning for the students?  In what ways is the educator actively shaping a learning space filled with student talk and cognitive work, rather than teacher-led instruction.  In what ways could you better promote the educator’s awareness of the learning space that s/he is actively or unintentionally creating?
    What instructional practices should be observed? What student impacts should be expected?
    For TEACHERS this may look like.
    1. Teacher conveys inaccurate content to students, or does not communicate the key ideas and skills necessary for mastery of unit and lesson objectives.

    1. Teacher demonstrates an accurate but basic understanding of the subject matter, but the chosen pedagogical approach often does not facilitate learning beyond recall and comprehension or does not emphasize key ideas and skills.

    1. Teacher’s pedagogical approach promotes the understanding of accurate subject matter content to students by providing clear explanations that effectively guide student thinking without doing the work for the students.  Instruction promotes learning at all Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels.  

    1. Teacher’s pedagogical approach provides clear explanations of accurate subject matter content that extends student independent thinking and reasoning. Instruction promotes learning at all DOK levels and illustrates content relationships within and between disciplines.

    1. Teacher uses instructional strategies that are inconsistent with scholarly research and best practices in current subject area and grade-level.

    1. Teacher uses instructional strategies that are rarely consistent with scholarly research and best practices in current subject area and grade-level.

    1. Teacher uses instructional strategies that are consistent with scholarly research and best practices in current subject area and grade-level.

    1. Teacher uses and shares with colleagues instructional strategies that are consistent with scholarly research and best practices in current subject area and grade-level and integrates innovative materials to support student learning.

    1. Teacher provides overly complex content knowledge without appropriate scaffolding of knowledge or the skills used to master the content. Instruction or responses to student questions may confuse more than clarify. Teacher does not consider the prerequisite skills and knowledge needed to master standards or content.

    1. Teacher engages students in limited learning experiences with scaffolding strategies that allow students to develop incomplete or unsustained knowledge and skills. Teacher may not regularly consider the prerequisite skills and knowledge and/or the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of students to make learning complex subject matter accessible.

    1. Based on an understanding of necessary prerequisite skills and knowledge, teacher creates scaffolded learning experiences that support student acquisition of complex content knowledge and skills through multiple perspectives and approaches, including through their own cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

    1. Based on an understanding of necessary prerequisite skills and knowledge, teacher creates scaffolded learning experiences that support student acquisition of complex content knowledge and skills that allow students to synthesize and apply sophisticated learning and concepts through multiple perspectives and approaches.  Teacher uses subject matter connections to help students understand and shape their own cultural and linguistic identities.  

    1. Teacher primarily relies on curricular materials and instructional supports (textbooks, worksheets, graphic organizers, etc) that do not foster higher ordering thinking in students.

    1. Teacher inconsistently uses curricular material and instructional supports (textbooks, worksheets, graphic organizers, etc) that enable students to translate content knowledge to sustained student learning.  

    1. Teacher consistently uses curricular material and instructional supports (textbooks, worksheets, graphic organizers, etc) that enable students to both synthesize complicated content knowledge and apply that knowledge in a multitude of ways.   

    1. Teacher consistently uses and adapts curricular material and instructional supports (textbooks, worksheets, graphic organizers, etc) to apply higher order thinking of complex content to real world situations.  

    1. Teacher’s limited knowledge of content and/or pedagogy often prevents teacher from anticipating or revealing student misconceptions or obstacles to learning.

    1. Teacher’s limited knowledge of content and/or pedagogy inconsistently allows teacher to anticipate or identify student misconceptions or obstacles to learning. Teacher questioning or prompting strategies may yield superficial and/or rigid answers.

    1. Teacher’s sound knowledge of content and/or pedagogy allows teacher to anticipate or reveal student misconceptions or obstacles to learning. Teacher questioning or prompting strategies facilitate the development of independent thinking and learning in students.  

    1. Teacher’s demonstrable expertise in content and pedagogy fosters student independent thinking and learning by anticipating and using student misconceptions or obstacles to build complex knowledge and skills of subject matter.  Teacher can replicate and model questioning and prompting strategies that foster student independent thinking.

    As a result, the IMPACT on STUDENTS may be...
    1. Students display a factually inaccurate or incomplete understanding of the content.  Students may also spend most work time on rote or basic tasks, such as copying or filling in blanks, that requires low cognitive demand and application of knowledge to other learning experiences

    1. Students may read, write, discuss or analyze the material they are learning, but the variety of ways students engage with the content is limited, superficial, or not sustained over time.  

    1. Students frequently read about, write about, discuss, and analyze the material in a way that demonstrates deep, sustained knowledge and skills that can be applied to a variety of learning experiences.  

    1. Students frequently read about, write about,  discuss, and analyze the material that both demonstrates deep sustained knowledge/skills and a nuanced understanding of content from various perspectives and approaches to the subject matter.

    1. Students consistently do not see connections between new material and prior knowledge and/or cannot apply prior knowledge and skills to new material.  

    1. Student connections between new material and prior knowledge and/or application of prior knowledge and skills to new material reveal a rudimentary understanding of the subject matter.

    1. Student connections between new material and prior knowledge and/or application of prior knowledge and skills to new material reveal a complex and sustained understanding of the subject matter.  

    1. Student connections between new material and prior knowledge and/or application of prior knowledge and skills to new material demonstrate the ability to apply complex subject matter to a variety of learning experiences.  

    1. Students cannot or do not regularly access notes, work products, and materials that reflect student-centered synthesis of knowledge and skills.

    1. Students have access to notes, work products, and materials, but these resources reflect that the cognitive work is not consistently being done by the student or that higher-order thinking is not required to synthesize knowledge or skills.

    1. Students can easily access notes, work products, and materials that demonstrate the cognitive work is being done by the student, not by the teacher.  These resources demonstrate that learning is happening at all DOK Levels

    1. Students can easily access notes, work products, and materials that demonstrate the cognitive work is being done by the student, not by the teacher.  These resources demonstrate that learning is happening at all DOK Levels. Students demonstrate an ability to independently synthesize these resources and make decisions about the resources and information needed to apply to different types of problems.  

    1. When prompted, students cannot articulate what content they are learning or what specific skills and strategies that the teacher has identified in order to master the content.  

    1. When prompted, students may be able to articulate what content they are learning, but struggle to name and demonstrate specific skills and strategies to master the content.  Student responses may reveal a superficial grasp of content or its significant to their learning.

    1. When prompted, students can consistently articulate what content they are learning, its significance to their learning, and what specific skills and strategies can be used to demonstrate mastery of the content. Student should be able to verbalize the “why“ and “how” of the lesson.  

    1. With or without prompting, students demonstrate an understanding of the content they are learning, its significance to their learning, the skills and strategies necessary to master the content, and its interconnectedness to authentic learning experiences.

    Name Description Type
    "Linear Equations vs. Inequalities"
    Ms. Latham, Mario Umana Academy
    Illustrations of Subject Matter Knowledge in the classroom Ms. Latham, Mario Umana Academy
    Coming Soon
    Resource Name Description Resource Type
    Writing in Math Class This article on the Teach Like a Champion website discusses how to provide meaningful opportunities for writing in the math class.  
    Dr. Lee Shulman—leading expert on pedagogical content knowledge Quotation "Within the category of pedagogical content knowledge, I include, for the most regularly taught topics in one's subject area, the most useful form of representation of those ideas, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations and demonstrations – in a word, the ways of representing and formulating the subject that make it comprehensible to others."  
    Sarah Danielson –
    Leading expert on defining the domains for effective teaching

    Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy pages 8-11

     
    Common Core Resources

    http://www.achievethecore.org/

    http://www.achieve.org/

     
    National Teaching Standards Early Childhood  

    ELA

     

    Mathematics Focal points for Pre-K to Grade 8

    Focus in high school mathematics: reasoning and sense making

     

    Science

     

    Social Studies

     

    Technology

     

    Arts Education

     

    Physical Education

     

    A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

      Book

    Marzano's New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives

      Book
    Do you have a resource that you want to recommend for this element? Email us at eval@bostonpublicschools.org with the subject line "Interactive Rubric Resource Recommendation" in the email