Understanding and Applying Standards

For the past few months, I have learned countless strategies, skills, and concepts. Among these units we have studied, the current unit “Standards” has been the most challenging and useful unit for me in the program. I realized how little I understand about standards. Having no experience and formal education training, word “standard” seemed to me like big, scary concept that only experienced teachers know about it and use it in their teaching practices.

Unpacking a Standard

Unpacking a standard allows teachers to see what students will know and be able to do, and helps them develop appropriate and effective learning objectives and lesson plans. Also, it helps teachers become effective as they think more strategically about how they teach and learning activities they use, how they select learning activities to make sure these activities are well-matched to the expectations and to students’ individual needs. After doing “Unpacking a Standard” assignment, I have got clear guidelines how to carry out this method and instruct my students and it helped me see standards as a tool to support my teaching.

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There are two types of learning goals that are implied in any standards. The first goal is a content goal and the second one is a process goal.  Unpacking a Standard asks teachers to look for keywords within the standard to help us know what students are being asked to do, know, understand, learn and master. The verbs within the standard are usually skills a student will need to meet the standard and the nouns can reveal big idea or what should be lesson objectives.

For example: 

3-5.CAS.c.7. Identify the impact of social media and cyberbullying on individuals, families, and society 

Content goal: impact of social media and cyberbullying on individuals, families, and society 

Process goal: Identify

Students have to understand what they will be expected to know and be able to do by the end of the year. I have started to understand how the language we use to express our objectives for our students is critical.

Backward Mapping

There are three stages of backward mapping:

  1. Identify the results desired (big ideas and skills)
    • What should the students know, understand, and be able to do?
    • Consider the goals and curriculum expectations
    • Focus on the “big ideas” (principles, theories, concepts, point of views, or themes)
  2. Determine acceptable levels of evidence that support that the desired results have occurred (culminating assessment tasks)
    • What will teachers accept as evidence that student understanding took place?
    • Consider culminating assessment tasks and a range of assessment methods (observations, tests, projects, etc.)
  3. Design activities that will make desired results happen (learning events)
    • What knowledge and skills will students need to achieve the desired results?
    • Consider teaching methods, sequence of lessons, and resource materials  (Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe)

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I found the backward mapping is extremely useful which is results driven and helps us to set high expectations, and prepare our students for success at the same time. It helped me to understand how to ensure I include all required skills when developing learning activities. I started looking at the activities from different angles. I used to assign activities without having my students on my mind. Although some of these activities were engaging, they were not requiring higher order thinking skills.


Understanding how to unpack, use, apply and deliver standards is the key success for teachers. It helps teachers to align with school standards, ensure the continuity of learning and teaching, and provide engaging, meaningful learning activities which relevant and necessary to students’ future careers.

This module was the one I was most looking forward to because I think it is the area of my teaching, where I have the most room for growth and improvement. I am sure my growth in this area will have the most direct impact on my students.


Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design, retrieved on Oct 28, 2017,  from https://www.fitnyc.edu/files/pdfs/Backward_design.pdf

Michael Schrimpf (2016), Unpacking standards to improve instruction, retrieved on Oct 28, 2017, http://www.kappancommoncore.org/unpacking-standards-to-improve-instruction/


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