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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Connecting math concepts across grades

The math standards were designed with coherence in mind, meaning that there should be a progression of mathematical concepts and ideas that are connected within and across grades. Every new learning should be an extension of previous learning, whether it’s dayto-day or year-to-year. In short, math should make sense.

As educators, one of the most powerful ways we can help students make sense of math is to provide them with learning opportunities that help them see how concepts and ideas fit together—to show how multiplication and division are extensions of adding and subtracting whole numbers or how ratios and proportions are connected to measurement, multiplication, and division.

Use these domain documents to study a particular domain and make connections between major topics within and across grades. Doing so helps students connect previous and new learning; it also enables teachers and leaders to pinpoint gaps in students’ learning and offer strategic support to fill those gaps. 

Watch this video of Bill McCallum, one of the authors of the Common Core, to build your own knowledge or to lay the foundation with your team around the design of the standards. Then, you’re better prepared to use the domain documents to make connections between concepts and ideas.

Use the following questions to help you study a domain and identify connections between standards within the domain:
  • How can you summarize the work of each grade?
  • How do these standards build off each other as they progress into each grade?
  • What do the aspects of rigor (procedural, application, conceptual) look like in each grade?
  • As a next step, consider: What do aligned questions and/or problems look like at each grade level?