Understanding learning Progressions across Grades

Activity Directions

Learning Objective

Build deeper understanding of the learning progressions of skills, concepts and processes across grades within the benchmarks of a specific arts area.

Note: Two activities are provided that could be used separately or together.


20 minutes or more (varies based on progressions selected)


1. Select a learning progression for the group to analyze. Locate and print copies of the selected learning progression(s), including strand(s), standard(s), and benchmarks.

a. Alternative: Provide all of the standards and benchmarks for a selected arts area, and ask participants to select a learning progression to analyze.

2. Review this notetaking tool and determine whether to have participant’s record analysis in that document or in a locally developed tool. Provide copies or electronic access to the notetaking tool.

3. Provide highlighters and/or sticky notes for each individual or group.


1. Ensure that all participants have the handout(s) and a highlighter and/or sticky notes.

2. Ask participants, individually or in small groups, to identify and write notes about changes in learning expectations from one grade level to the next. Use this notetaking tool if it is helpful. Have participants:

a. Examine the verbs in each benchmark and how they compare to the benchmarks before and after.

b. Examine the concepts in each benchmark and how they compare to the benchmarks before and after.

c. Compare noticings about the verbs and the content with the learning described in the anchor standard.

d. Discuss the foundational knowledge and skills that need to be learned at each level in order for students to be successful at that grade level and after.

3. Have participants discuss their learning in the large group. Some guiding questions might include:

a. What did you notice about the learning progressions?

b. What are you wondering about?

c. How do the knowledge and skills build throughout the progression?

d. How would you describe the relationship between the progression of benchmarks and the anchor standard? (Possible extension: ask participants to create a visual representation of this relationship based on what they’ve analyzed and noticed)

e. What are the implications for curriculum? For instruction?

i. What are the implications for how educators work together K-12?

4. Conclude by ensuring that participants have documented their learning.