The process of unpacking standards of instruction is a critical way for educators to reflect, understand, and plan appropriate instructional activities and assessments aligned to state standards. By engaging in this work, educators are able to discern what we want students to know in terms of declarative knowledge and what we want students to be able to do procedurally in skills. Example unpacking document templates are included at the bottom of this page. Critical pieces of unpacking include:
- Identifying appropriate VERBS in the essential standard.
- The verb in the essential standard indicates which level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, or depth of knowledge, that the standard must be aligned to.
- For example, consider 5th grade Science Standard, 5.E.1 Understand weather patterns and phenomena, making connections to the weather in a particular place in time. For this standard, the educator must create learning activities and tasks in the classroom that align with students mastering understanding of weather patterns. What actions in the classroom will help a student to “understand” the patterns? What actions in the classroom will NOT help a student to “understand” the patterns? Classroom instruction that focuses on students remembering weather patterns and reciting those from memory will not meet the depth of the knowledge required for the standard.
- Identify the appropriate NOUNS in the essential standard.
- The nouns in the standard depict what students are required to know or master.
- Identify whether the standard requires the student to master a type of KNOWLEDGE or SKILL.
- Types of knowledge that students should master include vocabulary, definitions, concepts, laws, formulas, key facts, details, timelines, certain and processes.
- Types of skills that students should master include decoding, computing, listening, speaking, writing, critical thinking, comparing, contrasting, analyzing, inquiring, and investigating.
- Identify key VOCABULARY. Vocabulary words can be Tier 2 or Tier 3. Decipher which words belong in which tier and which words are critical to student understanding of the specific content of the instructional standard.
- Tier 1 vocabulary words are those that are used in everyday speech. These words are learned in early childhood and picked up largely through conversation.
- Tier 2 vocabulary words are those that are characterized in academic, literary, or other technical writing. These words are those that are general purpose in nature, but more sophisticated than conversational words. Words such as “splendid”, “compose”, “analyze.” Students have most likely heard these words in their academic coursework but may not use them in everyday language. Tier 2 words generally span many academic areas.
- Tier 3 vocabulary words are those that are specialized. Mostly used in content specific areas, these words are typically specific to a certain domain or field of study. Work in Tier 3 vocabulary is critical to student’s understanding of curricula content. Examples of these words might include words such as “quadrilateral”, “metamorphic”, and “respiratory.”
- Identify and consider INSTRUCTIONAL EXAMPLES that align to the depth of knowledge of the standard.
- Using a Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart plan instructional examples in the same depth of knowledge realm as the standard. For instance, for an “Apply” standard, locate the appropriate column on the linked chart and then plan instruction around any of those verbs in the chart or check to see if an instructional activity is aligned to the verb of the standard.
- Identify appropriate formative and summative ASSESSMENTS for the standard.
- When considering summative assessments, understand that appropriate questions are written to the same depth of knowledge as the standard. So, if the standard is identified at the “Apply” level, then the summative assessment questions should also be written at this level. This ensures alignment between the standard, instruction, and assessment.
Example Templates of Standards Unpacking Documents
Standards-Based Text-Centered Instruction from NCDPI ELA Virtual Implementation Kit