Making a Marzano Scale for Daily Instruction

How to Make and Use a Marzano Scale

As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost (CLICK HERE to check it out), the first step in effective instruction is providing clear goals and monitoring student progress. But how?

With scales! Marzano’s scales are based on the concept of “Mastery”. According to Marzano, mastery is being able to answer at least 80% of questions about a topic correctly. A Marzano scale goes from 0-4 with each level as follows:

0 = Even with help, the student still cannot understand the content. Or, in student friendly language, “I just don’t get it.”

1 = With a lot of teacher support, the student can understand a minimal amount of the content. Or, in student friendly language, “I get it, but only if you talk me through it every time.”

2 = With a lot of teacher support, the student can understand most of the content. Or, in student friendly language, “I get it, but will need some help.”

3 = Mastery! The student can demonstrate understanding of the content at least 80% of the time with no teacher help. Or, in student friendly language, “I get it!”

4 = Beyond Mastery! The student can apply the content beyond what is asked of them. Or, in student friendly language, “I get it, and look what I can do with it!”

These are called the Levels of Understanding, and for a FREE set of classroom posters you can print and use in your room, CLICK HERE.

You might be thinking, “Great, but how can I make the scales themselves?” You begin with the standard. Most standards (at least in social studies) are large and complicated things that seem cobbled together like Frankenstein’s monster. The first step is to break the monster standard into smaller chunks. These chunks become your daily lessons.

Next, take a chunk and ask yourself, “What would a student need to be able to do to demonstrate mastery of this chunk?” Once you have your answer, that is both your daily learning target and the level 3 on your scale!

Level 4 is something beyond that, so ask yourself, “How could my students apply this knowledge in another, more advanced way?”

Level 0 is always the same – Even with help, I still don’t get it.

This leaves levels 1 and 2 to worry about. The easiest way to fill these is to go back to what you came up with for level 3 and try to think of three or four things students would need to be able to do to build up to mastering the standard. Once you have these, put the simpler one(s) in level 1 and the simpler and more difficult ones in level 2. Once you’ve done that, you have a Marzano aligned scale for your lesson!

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS…

  • First, I have found it most effective to phrase the overall target and each of the levels as “I can” statements. In my opinion, this helps students internalize their learning, and helps me keep the focus on their learning rather than my teaching.
  • Second, while some people support creating and using scales for entire units or topics of study, I advocate making them for each individual lesson. It helps students feel more immediately successful, helps me focus my lesson planning, and also helps both me and my students identify content that wasn’t mastered in a much quicker timeframe.
How to Make and Use a Marzano Scale