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How to Deconstruct Common Core Standards

Using Common Core standards is something that is very exciting for me! I am very excited about all of the possibilities and ideas that come from using Common Core in the classroom. I feel the Common Core Standards help teachers become more creative and excited about implementing lessons in their classrooms. Deconstructing the Common Core and using the Common Core to create new units is hard work, but it definitely is worth it when students are using their critical thinking skills and are engaged in learning.

I wanted to blog about this to show you how I deconstruct the standards while I plan for my lessons. Deconstructing standards is a big project for all teachers, as we want to include more units/lessons that cross disciplines and encourage depth of knowledge.

Deconstructing the Common Core is something that is essential. One standard could contain 5 separate lessons. It is important to see the whole picture from one standard…you don’t just want to “cover” the standard…you want to “dive” into it!

After attending a few professional development seminars, talking with other teachers, and researching online I brought together the great ideas I found and complied them into a list of simple steps to help me deconstruct the standards.

Here is an example using an English Language Arts Anchor Standard:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.



·      Name the Standard
o   Write/type the standard out:
*Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
·      Key Terms
o   Write/type all of the key terms that students will need to know prior to your lesson with this standard. These should be terms that students need to know the meaning of and understand. If they don’t know these terms, they won’t be able to complete the lessons in the standard. You will need to make sure students have background knowledge on these key terms.        
*Text
*Explicitly
*Logical
*Inferences
*Evidence
*Support
*Conclusions
·      Actions
o   Now comes the fun part! Look at the standard and pull out all of the actions students will have to complete.
*Read closely
*Determine what the text says
*Make logical inferences
*Cite evidence when speaking
*Cite evidence when writing
*Support conclusions
·      Objectives
o   All of these actions will now become your objectives for your lessons. I like to use this acronym (I saw this at wonderful schools in the community where I teach, where hard working teachers are deconstructing standards daily) when creating objectives: SWBAT,  “Students Will Be Able To.” This helps me identify what students will be able to do during the lesson, after the lesson, and independently.
*SWBAT read text closely.
*SWBAT determine what the text says explicitly.
*SWBAT make logical inferences from the text.
*SWBAT cite textual evidence when speaking.
*SWBAT cite textual evidence when writing.
*SWBAT support conclusions drawn from the text with textual evidence.
·      Decide on Your Unit
o   From this one standard there are SIX objectives! You have SIX separate lessons that will help your students gain depth when learning how to reach this standard. Now you’ll have to figure out how you will incorporate these SIX objectives in your unit. This standard lends itself well to being taken across the disciplines. This standard can be used in various content areas, while still being a part of English Language Arts. As you know, make sure you’re using your grade level standards to go across disciplines. For example, I teach 2nd grade this year, so I would use my 2nd grade social studies standards (which are also deconstructed J) and implement this ELA standard into my science unit.  When you are using this standard, it is important to make sure you have resources available for students to use. You will obviously need text that supports the other standards that you using. If I were doing a 2nd grade social studies standard like understanding the importance of heroes from long ago, I would be sure to have materials about America’s heroes for students to research and use in order to meet the objectives I listed above for CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1.
·      Time Frame
o   You’ll also have to decide how long each objective is going to take. Is one objective a one-day lesson, two days, or three? Can you fit two objectives into one lesson if your students already have background knowledge? These are all things you can think about as you’re planning your unit. Think about your school’s calendar like minimum days, holidays, etc. Plan your unit to be consistent and something that won’t be interrupted, while also being sure to create a unit that goes in depth and doesn’t just cover the topic. Also, keep the key terms you listed before in mind as you plan your unit.  If your students don’t know those key terms, you may need a lesson or two on them before you dive into your unit! Here’s an example of my daily planner for this unit:
*Day 1:SWBAT read text closely.
·      Use different text on American heroes and demonstrate how to use reading strategies to read closely, sorting out information that is important about each text piece.
*Day 2: SWBAT determine what the text says explicitly.
·      Use the same text from the lesson before and demonstrate how to determine what the text says explicitly. Use a graphic organizer to help model to students how to sort out the explicit details from the text.
*Day 3: SWBAT make logical inferences from the text.
·      By using the same text and graphic organizers, demonstrate to students how to make inferences from the text.
*Day 4: SWBAT cite textual evidence when speaking.
·      Model to students how to cite textual evidence while speaking
*Day 5: SWBAT cite textual evidence when speaking (day 2).
·      Guide students into using what they learned from the previous lesson to create short speaking roles where students can site textual evidence while speaking.
*Day 6: SWBAT cite textual evidence when writing.
·      Model to students how to cite textual evidence while writing
*Day 7: SWBAT cite textual evidence when writing (day 2).
·      Guide students into using what they learned from the previous lesson to create short writing pieces where students can site textual evidence while writing.
*Day 8: SWABT support conclusions using textual evidence
·      Model how students can make conclusions about the topic while supporting their conclusions using text as evidence.
*Day 9: Independent or Collaborative Practice
·      Give students an independent or collaborative assignment incorporating most or all of the objectives from the past two weeks’ lessons. This will help you determine if students met the objectives from the two weeks of lessons.
*Day 10: Extension
·      On this day, give your students an extension project or assignment based on the past two weeks’ lessons. Encourage students to think critically and in depth. This can also be something that integrates another content area (if it makes sense) or some type of craftivity or art project to display students’ work.
*Day 11: Assessment
·      Decide what type of assessment you would like to use to assess if your students met the objectives. You can always have small assessments at the end of each lesson throughout your unit too.

So…deconstructing the standards takes a lot of work! But, in the end, it’s so worth your time and energy…especially if students are challenged, engaged, and having fun.

Here are the steps in simplified from you can follow as you map out your curriculum for the year:
·      *Name the Standard (s)
·      *Key Terms
·      *Actions
·      *Objectives
·      *Decide on Your Unit
·      *Time Frame

Now, some standards may only have one objective. Or there may be a standard your students have already mastered. If this is the case, you can group the standards to create a unit too! If you have three ELA standards that you have deconstructed, and they each have two objectives, they may make a great unit if you put them together. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure they make sense being in the same unit! And, you also want to make sure you don’t have too many objectives for one unit. The standard I deconstructed above would be good for one unit combined with one or two deconstructed standards from another content area. It’s all about your classroom schedule and how you want to structure your units and lessons.

Thank you for reading! I hope this post can help you! Leave a comment if you have a question. I’d love to share ideas and collaborate.

Happy teaching and deconstructing!



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