It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today’s Tip: Unwrapping the Standards Step 3 and Looking at the whole picture.

It’s Monday, It’s ELA Common Core Day! Today is a continuation of last week’s look at Ainsworth’s (2003) work in unwrapping the standards, where we focused on Steps 1 and 2 (out of 5). Today’s tip is  Unwrapping the Standards Step 3.  We also want to take a moment and look at the whole picture.  Ainsworth’s whole 5-step process is a very good way to get to know the Common Core Standards, so next Monday, we will continue with Step 4 and then Step 5 the following Monday, but today we are focusing on Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas.

Step 3 – Determine the Big Ideas… What do they need to already know?  What type of literacy skills will they need to use? Is this important for my students to learn?
Need to Know
Skills to Use
How will this help my students?





First, here are the standards.  Then look below for our focus discussion:

Kindergarten Teachers: 
Standard RL.K.2: With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
1st Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.1.2: Grade 1 students will retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
2nd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.2.2: Grade 2 students will recount stories, including fable and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
3rd Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.3.2: Grade 3 students will recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
4th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.4.2: Grade 4 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

5th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.5.2: Grade 5 students will determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
6th Grade Teachers:
Standard RL.6.2: Grade 6 students will determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Take a moment to think about what your students will “need to know” to do this…   what “skills will they need to use?”  and always, the bottom line is “how will this help my students?” Ask yourselves the questions that are pertinent to your grade level, your students’ levels and the needs of your group… For example:

What do they need to know?
  • Do they need to know what retell or recount means?
  • Do they need to know how a folktale is organized?
What skills will they need to use?
  • Do they need to be able to retell or recount?
  • Do they need to be able to listen to a story, to use their listening comprehension skills?
  • Do they need to know the difference between major details and insignificant ones?
How will this help my students?
  • Will this help them during your instructional time?   
  • How?
  • How will retelling, recounting, determining theme, identifying major details help them with their achievement in reading?

And finally, let’s look at the whole picture… go back and look at how the standard builds from one grade to another, look at the Kindergarten one, and the first grade, and second grade, all the way to sixth grade or above.  It is important to see where our students are going, not just having tunnel vision looking at our current grade only.  We can see how the learning is layered.  We will look at this whole picture more in-depth in a future post, with another standard.

“ ‘Unwrapping’ the academic content standards is a proven technique to help educators identify from the full text of the standards exactly what they need to teach their students.  Unwrapped standards provide clarity as to what students must know and be able to do.  When teachers take the time to analyze each standard and identify its essential concepts and skills, the result is more effective instructional planning, assessment, and student learning  (Ainsworth, L., 2003).

Until next time, share a strategy!

Dr. Denise Gudwin 

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