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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.

Moving from "unpacking" to understanding math standards

Use this approach as part of teacher preparation, professional development, or planning meetings.

You hear the word “unpacking” a lot these days when it comes to the math standards. The problem with unpacking is that we sometimes forget how to put everything back in the suitcase.

While it can be helpful to “unpack” a math standard into the knowledge, skills, and understanding students need in order to demonstrate mastery, we can’t stop there. We also need to tease out the connections between all the parts of the standard we've unpacked to understand how they work together to deepen students’ understanding and skillsanalyzing the standard, examining vertical progressions, and actually solving some problems can help us see these connections. That way, we’re left with so much more than a checklist of “unpacked” objectives—we have a deep understanding of what that standard requires when it comes to teaching and learning. 

Use this approach with your team to develop your understanding of the math standards. When teachers feel knowledgeable about the expectations of the standards, they’re better able to lead students to strong learning outcomes. You can apply what you learn about the standards through this approach to create or make improvements to an upcoming unit or lesson plans. If you are working with a curriculum, start by reviewing the unit or lesson plan. After taking this approach, make adjustments based on alignment, rigor, and cohesion.

This map, created by Achieve the Core, is a go-to resource for helping you to deepen your understanding of the standards, and we encourage you to use this when taking this approach. The map shows connections between the Common Core Math Standards, and organizes them in a way so it’s easy to see the cluster and related standards, and how all the standards fit together. For each standard, there is an example task, lessons, and assessments, and other related resources to help you make connections between ideas and concepts within and across grades.