This is my current attempt at a set of detailed standards for my 9th-grade history class. This is very much a work in progress, and I’m posting them here in the hopes of starting a conversation in which I might learn something. My basic principles in drawing up these standards were: they should reflect skills or habits of mind that might reasonably be expected to develop over the course of a school year, they should be fundamentally important to doing history, and they should be things I can measure routinely in the course of a quarter. I think there are too many of these, but I’m still thinking it over!
Little girl, be careful what you say
when you make talk with words, words—
for words are made of syllables
and syllables, child, are made of air—
and air is so thin—air is the breath of God—
air is finer than fire or mist,
finer than water or moonlight,
finer than spider-webs in the moon,
finer than water-flowers in the morning:
and words are strong, too,
stronger than rocks or steel
stronger than potatoes, corn, fish, cattle,
and soft, too, soft as little pigeon eggs,
soft as the music of hummingbird wings.
So, little girl, when you speak greetings,
when you tell jokes, make wishes or prayers,
be careful, be careless, be careful,
be what you wish to be.
—Carl Sandburg, Wind Song