Step 1: “Unpack” and "Deconstruct" the Standards:


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  • This is the process of analyzing the academic standards to identify what students are expected to understand (concepts/generalizations), know (topics and facts) and be able to do (skills and processes) at a particular grade level, for a particular course, and/or for a particular discipline. (NCDPI) has provided Unpacking Documents for each content area represented in the NC Standard Course of Study. These documents serve to clarify the intent of the standards; however, you will have to add additional content, skills, and understandings to accommodate your local expectations for the curriculum you develop. You can use the NCDPI-developed Unpacking Documents as a starting point to identify the key concepts in the clarifying objectives, some essential understandings (generalizations), key terms, and supporting resources.

  • Local Context: Unpacking the Standards:Although DPI has already unpacked the standards, it is still critical that local curriculum developers go through the process of understanding the key cognitive processes, concepts and skills for a particular grade level or course. This is the process of analyzing the academic standards to identify with greater specificity what students are expected to understand (concepts/generalizations), know (topics and facts) and be able to do (skills and processes). While there are some concepts that are explicitly stated in the standards, there may be other concepts that teachers feel support the intent of the standard; these would be implied concepts.

  • Local Context: Deconstructing the Standards: While the NCES for social studies have been unpacked at the state level, it is still necessary to deconstruct the standards at the local level in order to provide a deeper level of specificity to meet the needs of the LEA. To deconstruct a standard is to dissect what is written in order to identify with greater specificity what students will know (factual knowledge), understand (conceptual knowledge), and be able to do (procedural knowledge) as a result of the teaching and learning process. In addition, even though there are no social studies clarifying objectives written to metacognitive knowledge, the curriculum writer or teacher can also consider opportunities to incorporate student reflection about their own learning


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  • As you unpack the state standards for the grade level or course for which you will develop your local curriculum, ask yourself:
    • What concepts are explicitly stated in the standards?
    • What are some implied concepts that students should understand?
    • What disciplinary skills and practices will students have to know how to do?
    • What broad topics could I teach that support the concepts identified in the standards?



  • When “deconstructing” a clarifying objective, ask yourself:
    • What are the factual, conceptual, procedural, and/or metacognitive knowledge underpinning the clarifying objective?
    • What is the cognitive process in which students need to engage?


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  • Practice unpacking your standards for your course. Here is an example to get you started.


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Step 1-->Step 2a-->Step 2b-->Step 3-->Step 4-->Step 5-->Step 6-->Step 7-->Step 8-->Step 9-->Step 10-->Step 11-->Step 12