How to Fully Understand Each Common Core Standard

This blog post dives into deconstructing ELA Common Core Standards. Find out simple and effective methods for organizing your content and mapping out how to teach the standards. Use the free template to deconstruct your standards and build a library of CCSS resources.

If you read my last post on the ELA Common Core Standards, you already know that unpacking them is going to take a bit of work. The ELA Common Core Standards are complex, but it is so important for us to grasp them as we are planning to teach them. Today, we will take a deeper look at ELA CCSS so that we can fully understand each Common Core standard.

What does it mean to deconstruct a standard?

Standard deconstruction is an effective tool for getting to know each standard. It may seem like a daunting task, at first, but it is actually quite simple. You are going to break each standard down into a few parts: keywords, objectives, and student actions. You can do this for all of the standards at once, possibly over the summer or at a team planning session. OR, you can deconstruct each standard before you teach the unit.

If you choose to deconstruct the standards all at once, you can pull them out when planning units with those standards in them. If you choose to do them one at a time, while planning units, simply collect/combine them throughout the year. Then, you will be ready to go next year!

This blog post dives into deconstructing ELA Common Core Standards. Find out simple and effective methods for organizing your content and mapping out how to teach the standards. Use the free template to deconstruct your standards and build a library of CCSS resources.

A quick and easy way to deconstruct your standard is to write it in a notebook. As you can see in the picture, you can simply write your standard at the top of a page. Then, identify any keywords/vocabulary that will be important to the unit. Next, list your “I can” statements. Finally, create a chart where you record “What We Want Kids To KNOW,” and “What We Want Kids To DO.” This will help you map out exactly what you need to teach your students throughout a given unit. With a notebook, you can keep all of your deconstructed standards in one place and can use them when planning.

Another way to deconstruct your standards is to use a digital tool. This free template is an editable document that allows you to simply plug in your standard information and break it down, similarly to the notebook method. With a digital tool, it will very easy to save and share your deconstructed standards. If you’re able to access them digitally, you won’t have to keep track of your paper copies/notebook.

Vertical Alignment is important here, too

In order to fully understand each common core standard, you will need to hop grade levels. If other grade levels are also deconstructing standards, it will make this easier. But, I highly recommend looking at the vertical standards from the grade above and below you. This will allow you to see what prior knowledge your students will have and what’s expected from them in the future. It is important to know where “mastery” lies within the vertically aligned standards so that every student is able to build upon their skills.

Another way is to “Unwrap” the standards

Larry Ainsworth has come up with another quick way to break down your standards. He calls it “unwrapping” the standards. You can “unwrap” your standards in 3 simple steps.

  1. Select the standard.
  2. Underline key concepts and important nouns or noun phrases within the standard.
  3. Circle or use capital letters to identify verbs within the standard.

With standard “unwrapping,” you can zone in on what you are doing and how by looking at nouns and verbs. It is even simple enough for your students to do! At the start of a unit, try projecting your standard on the board. Then, have students underline the key concepts (nouns) and circle the actions (verbs).

Scaffolding Skills

With both standard deconstruction and “unwrapping,” there is an opportunity for you to scaffold the skills. This means that you should think about what skills your students will need before they are able to do the skill you are focused on.

For example, if I am teaching students to compare two characters, they will first need to be able to identify characters, describe characters, identify similarities, identify differences. This is going to be an extremely helpful tool when you are planning because not all of your students are at the same starting level.

When you have students that end up struggling to understand a specific skill or standard, you can refer to your scaffolded skills to see what they may be missing. This will be where you can go to plan your small group instruction!

How-to deconstruct your standards: A review

  • Select the standard
  • Identify any key terms
  • Identify any actions required
  • Develop objectives for students
  • Scaffold the skills

Grab your free template here!

This freebie template is available for you to use for any standard you need to deconstruct. It comes as a PDF, so you can either choose to print it out and make copies to write on. Or you can click the digital link and type into the template on Google Slides. Either way, here is your freebie to dive deeper into the standards.

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