3 Steps to Understanding Your Common Core Math Standard

Whether you’ve been teaching math for three months or three decades, you likely have a few questions about what the Common Core means for you. How are the new standards different from the standards you used to teach? How closely do they align with your current lessons and units? How will your colleagues at higher and lower grade levels be adjusting their instruction, and what does that mean for you? And, perhaps most importantly, what do you need to know about the Common Core’s take on the standard you’re teaching next week?

We have done a lot of work around these questions at LearnZillion, and the following three steps are our recommended best practices for understanding your Common Core Mathematics standard.

LearnZillion's tips on how to understand your Common Core Math standard

Read on for LearnZillion’s best tips on understanding your Common Core Math standard

Step 1. Do standards analysis research

Analysis of Common Core standards can come in many different forms. Assessment is an important one. The Common Core assessment consortia, PARCC and SBAC, have released annotated sample items that show what students who have mastered specific standards are be able to do.

Many other sites also give helpful resources to anchor your planning. Formative assessments and performance tasks from sources like Illustrative Mathematics and Student Achievement Partners can help you set a vision for the end of a unit or lesson. These resources are generally tagged to Common Core standards, including the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Step 2. Learn from your peers

Remember – you are not alone! Thousands of other teachers across the country are puzzling over the same standard as you, and – whether in your building or online – many are eager to collaborate.

Set aside time with your grade level team, or colleagues from your district. Form a lesson study group. Observe each other in action. Divide the task of interpreting the standards and bounce ideas and questions off each other.

If you’re looking for free examples of lessons by teachers who have studied the standards, LearnZillion.com is a great resource. We offer a growing library of thousands of free math video lessons and resources for grades 2-12 that have been created by our Dream Team of practicing teachers.

Step 3. Understand your lesson in the context of a bigger picture

If a standard seems confusing, you can always take step back to understand how the standard fits in to the broader conceptual developments taking place in your students’ math journey.  The Progressions, created by a team at the University of Arizona, is a concise and well-written guide to the conceptual developments that students experience as they advance in math.  The Progressions are organized into grade bands and Common Core domains, making it easy to see how your standard rests on earlier standards and reinforces later ones.

Ready to get started?

Let us know how it goes!

Check out this inspirational video on how one teacher felt empowered by this research process.

2 thoughts on “3 Steps to Understanding Your Common Core Math Standard

  1. Hi – I was trying to access the research template and the coach video but the links didn’t work for me. Is there a certain browser that I should be using to see those resources? Thank you!

    • Hi Julia! Unfortunately we took down the research template.

      Here is the Coach’s perspective video:

      And here is an inspirational video on how one teacher was inspired by the above research process

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