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Unpacking Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics

The Tennessee Department of Education worked with Early Grades Reading and Math teachers and coordinators to develop a process to assist teachers with understanding the new Common Core State Standards in the summer of 2011. The goals of these sessions for workshop participants were 2 fold:

  • Understand the components of a common core standard by unpacking it
  • Identify the steps to creating clear learning targets for students

Not all standards were unpacked with student learning outcomes identified. For those where this process was completed, you will find links to the two documents, as described below, under each common core standard found on the website.

Unpacking the CCSS standard

This document shows the steps completed by the group to unpack the standard by:
  • Identifying the nouns and verbs
  • Considering level of Bloom’s Taxonomy: high, medium or low level
  • Identifying key academic vocabulary
  • Reviewing what is taught and assessed in the grades/courses before and after.
  • Considering the knowledge and skills needed to master the content standard.

Student Friendly Learning Targets

Once the standard was broken down into easily understood chunks of information, the teachers identified how this learning could be assessed. The group then developed clear learning targets for students in a language they could understand and explain to others. This process helps teachers plan for the common misconceptions students have about the learning and allows them to address the learning needs of individual students.

Visual Representation of the Student Friendly Learning Targets

Each group completing the two documents above was then asked to develop a visual of the targeted learning outcomes on three levels:
  • Laying the base- prior knowledge needed to meet current standard
  • Mastering the standard- the minimum level all students need to master the standard being taught
  • Going beyond- ideas for achieving a deeper understanding or next step of learning beyond the standard.