common core

CCSSM Grade 7 Concepts and Skills List


CCSSM Grade 7 Concepts and Skills List

Earlier this year I described my schedule, assumptions, goals, and game plan as they all relate to my school’s transition to CCSSM. Here’s an update on that process.

Good Distractions

I haven’t spent as much time on this task as I originally intended in the first twelve weeks of school. I originally thought about 95% of my prep time would be devoted to the CCSSM transition project. Instead, about 60% of that time has been dedicated to helping teachers integrate technology into their classrooms in meaningful ways.

The emphasis has been on students using technology to create and collaborate, rather than students watching teachers use technology, or students using technology simply to receive/consume content.

It’s been an enjoyable experience, one in which I’ve learned a lot as we make mid-stream adjustments to our in-house technology training plan. We recently put together a “Technology Leadership Team” with teachers from various grade levels and disciplines throughout our K-12 school. With this team in place, I have an opportunity to shift a bit more of my attention back to the CCSSM transition.

Adjusted Expectation

My original goal was to transition our entire 7-12 math program to Common Core next year. After some wise words from the other member of the math department, and an okay from our superintendent, we’ve decided to transition middle school in 2014-2015 and high school in 2015-2016.

First Fruits

It’s only a tiny piece of the whole puzzle, but this week I finished writing a CCSSM Grade 7 Concepts and Skills List.

If you open up the document, you’ll find a number of comments I’ve written in the margin describing my rationale for certain things, my uncertainty about others, and my game plan for (in many cases) weaving content throughout the course (rather than forcing a set of topics—e.g., geometry—to stay confined to a particular time period).

I hope you’ll add your own comments and questions. Let me know if you want a duplicate copy of the document so you can put your own spin on sequence, emphasis, etc.

Next Steps

In the next couple of weeks I plan to do the same thing for our CCSSM Grade 8 course. At that point I’ll turn my attention to writing brief, SBG-style assessments for each topic on the lists.

Further down the to-do list: Performance assessments for the big ideas in each course (we’ll probably start with one per quarter) and rich anchor tasks/lessons for each unit.

Much further down the to-do list: Individual lessons/activities/tasks/practice to fill out each unit.

And beyond that… The same process for our high school courses.


CCSSM Statistics and Probability Workshop (Links, Twitter, and Slides)


Simple slide stealing in three flavors: KeynotePDFPowerPoint.

Feedback Form

Attended the workshop? Let me know what you thought.


Estimation 180

A great resource for developing students’ number sense, estimation skills, unit sense, and ability to explain their reasoning in concise, specific ways.

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Statistics Learning Centre

A blog all about teaching and learning statistics from Middle Earth New Zealand.

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Illustrative Mathematics

A free online source of rich tasks illustrating the Common Core mathematics standards.

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Progressions (Tools for the Common Core)

General website:

Progressions category: or

HS Statistics and Probability document: Here

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Emergent Math’s PrBL Curriculum Maps

“Geoff Krall Combs The Internet For Lesson Plans So You Don’t Have To”

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Join Twitter, follow some of these people, and check out their blogs.

@druinok (blog)

@gwaddellnvhs (blog)

@jkindred13 (blog)

@approx_normal (blog)


@mrmathman (blog)

@bobloch (blog)

@mrhodotnet (blog)

@mathteacher24 (blog)

@StatsMonkey (blog)

Transition to Integrated Course Sequence with CCSSM

This is the sort of post that in years past I would have scribbled in some word processor or private blog. I often write to clarify my thinking and set personal and professional goals, and I’ll do so again here. My reasoning for making this round of reflecting and planning public is twofold:

  1. It will force me to consider my assumptions, goals, and specific game plan even more carefully knowing that others might read what I write.
  2. It may help others process through their own transition, whether to an integrated course sequence or a more traditional slicing-and-dicing of the CCSSM content standards.

Whether the second of these two reasons will actually play out, I don’t know. But the value I’ll derive from the first (reflecting and planning publicly) is reason enough to proceed, so here goes.

My Schedule

Our school has seven academic periods during the normal 8 am to 3 pm day. A full teaching load is six classes, plus one period to prepare. In recent years I’ve elected to work during my prep for a slight pay increase (diapers are expensive!).

This year my schedule is filled with five classes and two periods we’re calling “Program Development.” During these two periods (2nd and 7th) my task is to redesign our 7-12 mathematics program to align with the CCSSM content and practice standards. That’s a lot of planning time each day, but it’s a fairly monumental task, especially considering that we’re transitioning to an integrated course sequence for grades 9-12.

My Assumptions

This could get out of hand (lengthwise) rather quickly, so I’ll jump right in with the bullets to share some of my assumptions:

  • An integrated course sequence in grades 9-12 will be more difficult to design and more difficult to teach, but (if done well) will provide students with a richer, more connected mathematical experience (provided I don’t settle for what @NatBanting describes here).
  • Due to the small size of our school and the constraints on budget and staffing (there are two faculty members—myself included—in the entire 7-12 math department), we need to make the transition to CCSSM content in grades 7-12 all at once. (In other words, we don’t have the staffing necessary to transition one course/grade level at a time, or to make the transition gradually over a number of years, essentially running two programs side by side in the interim.)

I’m calling these assumptions because that’s what they are, at least in part. It might be better to call them semi-researched opinions/positions. In any case, I hope some of you will push back and play devil’s advocate, especially on the second point above. If you think it would make more sense (in my small school environment) to roll out the transition one, two, or three courses/grade levels at a time, please share!

My Goals

By June 2014 I want our course offerings to include:

  • Integrated Math A
    (CCSSM Grade 7 content standards)
  • Integrated Math B
    (CCSSM Grade 8 content standards)
  • Integrated Math 1
    (CCSSM high school content standards)
  • Integrated Math 2
    (CCSSM high school content standards)
  • Integrated Math 2 Honors
    (CCSSM high school content standards, including STEM (+) standards)
  • Integrated Math 3
    (CCSSM high school content standards)
  • Integrated Math 3 Honors
    (CCSSM high school content standards, including STEM (+) standards)
  • AP Calculus AB
    (aligned to the College Board’s AP Calculus Course Description)
  • AP Statistics
    (aligned to the College Board’s AP Statistics Course Description)

Two notes:

  • Students who intend to take AP Calculus AB will be required to complete Math 2H and Math 3H (where, theoretically, they’ll learn the STEM (+) standards and other topics necessary for success in Calculus)
  • I’m not sure if we’ll offer a Math 1H course. If we do, it probably won’t include any of the STEM (+) standards, and I’m currently running short on ideas for how to differentiate it from the non-honors section of Math 1.

While aligning our courses to the CCSSM content standards will be an important task, I consider it even more crucial that we infuse all of our 7-12 courses with the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. I want our courses to help students grow in their ability to make sense and persevere, reason, argue and critique, model with mathematics, etc. The content itself is important, but it’s the habits of mind that will last.

My Game Plan

It’s rather easy for my to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of this whole undertaking. But I also get incredibly excited when I think about chipping away at specific tasks in transforming our program, my courses, my teaching, etc.

With those two ideas in mind, I believe it will be helpful to break down the entire project into a sequence of smaller, more manageable tasks. In theory, this will keep me sane, on track, and encouraged. (We’ll see whether that’s the case.)

I also hope that by planning in this way it will be easier to share resources with others (in both a “give” and “take” sense), and that I’ll have more opportunities to collaborate. For example, if I ask on Twitter, “Who wants to help me develop a CCSSM-aligned course sequence for grades 7-12 with integrated courses for high school,” I’ll probably hear nothing but crickets. However, if instead I ask, “Who wants to help me create a concepts and skills list for, say, an integrated course for Grade 9,” I might have a few more takers.

So with that background, here is my plan of action, laid out more or less in the order I’ll proceed:

Curriculum (Draw the Big Picture)

  • Arrange the high school standards into courses (whether that involves adopting something like this as is, using or modifying California’s integrated pathway (see pages 95-123 of this document), or starting from scratch, I don’t yet know)
  • Identify the three or four “big ideas” in each course (and later, develop six- to 12-week units around them)

Note: I see myself reading more of this blog and these books in the near future.

Assessments (Set the Targets)

  • Develop performance task assessments for each of these units (emphasizing “synthesis skills”)
  • Write a “concepts and skills list” for each course (possibly by using these as a starting point)
  • Develop assessments for each of the items on the “concepts and skills list” (ideally, assessments worth posting here)

Lessons (Work Out the Details)

  • Create a list of individual topics (based on the “concepts and skills” list) for each “big idea” unit
  • Select, adapt, or create a rich task to launch each “big idea” unit (one that we can refer back to throughout the unit)
  • Sketch a rough outline of individual lessons for each topic
  • Write individual lessons for each topic (this should only take, roughly, forever)
  • Select, adapt, or create appropriate homework assignments for each lesson (though I probably should read this—currently sitting at my bedside table—before forging ahead)

That’s All for Now

If you need to tackle any of those smaller projects and you’d like to join forces for a bit (whether we collaborate through Dropbox, Google Drive, Hangouts, or some other tool), I’d love to have some help and/or lend a hand with your transition.

Drop me a line in the comments, or send me a note on Twitter (@mjfenton) if you’re interested.

Pathways Through the Common Core

I recently joined a conversation on Twitter about pathways through the Common Core State Standards and potentially-shifting opportunities for advanced students. It seems I’m not alone in wondering how a transition to the CCSSM will play out in our actual classrooms and departments.

I teach in a very small math department (two members for the entire 7-12 program), so I am particularly curious to know how debates are unfolding and plans are taking shape in other school districts (like yours!).

For districts both large and small, I imagine it would be helpful to know the questions others are grappling with, as well as the solutions they’re proposing to the many challenges that will arise as we make this transition. If you’re interested in adding your voice to the conversation, drop a line in the comments describing as many of the following as you please:

  1. Your district’s intended approach (traditional vs. integrated)
  2. Timeline (and other relevant details) for your transition
  3. A link to a course sequence/pathway (if you have one), or a list of the options students have at each grade level
  4. Plans for acceleration (i.e., what to do with/for your students who want/need/deserve to be challenged)
  5. Plans for remediation (i.e., what to do with/for your students who struggle to the point of failure in one or more classes)
  6. Concerns and challenges
  7. Other random insights
  8. Lingering questions
  9. Whatever else comes to mind

Since I’m not interested in highlighting our approach as anything worthy of emulation, I’ll share my school’s plans, questions, and so forth, in the comments.

Thanks in advance to all who chime in!

CCSSM: Approaches to Remediation

Howdy, Internet. Thursday I asked this:

I immediately received a link to a helpful article from @reimerpaul. Shortly after that @wahedahbug and a few others expressed interest in having a larger conversation about how best to remediate for students who aren’t really ready to move on to the next course in the CCSSM sequence.

(For the record, at my school we’re going integrated in high school, but I think best practices/wise policies regarding remediation can easily apply in either pathway.)

I really want to know three things from as many people as are willing to share:

  1. What are your school’s current policies and practices regarding remediation?
  2. What if any changes will your school make in your transition to CCSSM?
  3. Ignoring school culture, resistance to change, limited time/energy/resources, and other annoying realities, what would your ideal approach to remediation look like?

If you’re interested in reading responses, and even contributing your own, head to the Google Doc!