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3 Steps For Unpacking Standards

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

*Updated January 27, 2022

I usually am not a big fan of fancy documents and tools that help us "unpack" standards (which really just means read them, read them again, and verify that we know what they mean).

In fact, I kinda can't stand this process. So much so in fact, how I REALLY feel about this can be viewed through the lens of David Rose from Schitt's Creek (cheers to all my Schitt's Creek fans!)

Unfortunately, while we might we we can react like David Rose (all the time, everywhere in life) we ultimately cannot.

Below are my three REAL steps for unpacking standards (when it really must be done, and there's no way to avoid it).

  1. Set aside 45-60 minutes for structured discussion around 1-2 standards max. Make sure every person involved has a physical copy of the standards to view (it's not enough to have them projected if you're all in 1 room).

  2. Provide time for group members to read the standard and then: write down what they think it means. Learners need time to process, and writing down our thoughts is a processing tool. Be sure to include this part. You can use sticky notes, a shared document, chart paper--doesn't matter. Ask the group to share their thoughts on: how can we see and hear mastery of this from students? What is this standards not asking of students? Tell me more about the language you use with this? How long would you take to teach this? Do our current lessons/activities allow our students to truly demonstrate the standard, or no?

  3. Reference documents that are already created that do this work for you. The Indiana Learning Lab is a free resource for teachers that houses the K-8 IDOE frameworks. The frameworks totally unpack the standards for you--they provide "I can statements", key vocabulary, suggestions on supports for students, question stems, and more. Really, teachers just need time to find these and then discuss what they already understood about the standard. Again, 45-60 minutes, 1-2 standards max.



"Indiana Learning Lab",

“POP TV.” Pop TV,

“Schitt's Creek.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada,

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