Monthly Archives: July 2012

A.CED.1 How to Break it Down

The Common Core State Standards do not allow us, as teachers, the luxury of a checklist. Each standard has to many components. This is my attempt to be sure that I am teaching each standard to the full extent that is expected and that will help my students be successful.

A.CED.1 Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.*

To break this down, I began listing all the components students would need to understand to master this standard. I checked sample problems and online resources to be sure that I was not overlooking  anything.

I then assigned everything on this list to a unit, being sure nothing gets missed. You will notice on my lesson plans for each unit I will only list the part of the standard being covered to help keep my focus on the skills for that unit and how they are part of my Big Picture Lesson Plan.

  • Order of operations – Unit 1
  • Distributive property – Unit 1
  • Translate expressions and equations, verbal to algebraic – Unit 1
  • Solve one variable equations
    • Simple two step equations – Unit 1
    • Variables on both sides – Unit 5
    • Complex linear equations – Unit 5
    • Quadratic equations – Unit 12
    • Rational functions – Unit 11
    • Exponential functions – Unit 8
  • Solve one variable inequalities
    • Compound conjunction inequalities – Unit 5
    • Compound disjunction inequalities – Unit 5
In a nutshell, the Common Core Standard A.CED.1 is asking students to be able to create and solve equations in one variable to answer questions.

Please feel free to take a look at these Common Core sample problems, all A.CED.1, and see how they will progress in difficulty throughout the Algebra 1 course.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!I hope this helps everyone understand how I created my skills list for each unit. Please take a minute and let me know if this is helpful. I would love to get your feedback.

Please help me find teacher created, common core aligned websites.

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I am looking for great sites or blogs created by teachers that are resources or are aligned with the Common Core. I would love a variety of grade levels and subjects. These sites can be created for students, parents, or teachers. You can find an example at http://algebra1teachers.com

Please see http://commoncore.co for contact information. 

Thanks so much in advance for sharing this post with others!

The Power of Teaching Performance Tasks

Earlier this week I sent out the Unit 1 Assessments and compiled a list of Common Core Assessments from the web. But the real issue is what happens between assessments. Yes we want great, fair, honest assessments. But our job as teachers is to teach. 

This is a reminder of how to create performance tasks for your classroom. 

Thank you Dan Meyer for this reminder. 

Common Core Assessment Examples for High School Math

Common Core AssessmentWe have all been told to begin with the end in mind.

What do the kids need to learn? What is important? Needed? Imperative for future success?

We then create the lessons to support that end.

But what is the end according to the Common Core? It seems to be a grand idea, give the kids problem solving skills to apply to real world problems. This is what most teachers have been wanting to do for years.

Having an idea of what these future Common Core assessments will look like will give us the best chance to prepare our students for success.

Understanding the Assessments

  • Gotham Schools posted a sample of slides showing old and “new” assessments to compare and contrast. It would be great to see more examples, but it is helpful to see the transition side by side to get a better understanding of the standards.
  • For a more in depth understanding of the new assessments, you may consider downloading a webinar from ASCD. One that I have found helpful is by Susan Brookhart, Common Core: Assessment Shifts.

Sample Performance Tasks

I love the idea of performance tasks. I want kids to do well in life, not just on a bubble test. But who has time to come up with and write all these tasks?

  • PARCC has released sample tasks for their assessments.
  • This is a wonderful collection of performance tasks to get started with. Balanced Assessment is a collection of tasks created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The library of over 300 mathematics assessment tasks developed during the project remains freely available through this web site. Teachers may use these materials in their own classrooms at no cost.

  • 101questions  is a great site for peeking student interest in questions that they come up with themselves. This was started by Dan Meyer. 101qs is very powerful and I would encourage you to try this in your classroom. This is an extension of 3 acts, you may want to start there.
  • PARCC aligned interactive tasks from CCSSToolbox. Online interactive questions that will help you understand which direction the writers are heading in…
  • Another great resource is Map Assessment Tasks. These tasks are written as formative assessments. They come complete with lesson plans, leading questions, scoring rubrics, and sample student works.
  • This set of practice tasks can be found on the CCSS Toolbox website under the standards for mathematical practice tab. These assessments are aligned with CCSS and I find the accompanying notes helpful.
Most of us will begin coming up with our own ideas to motivate our kids once we have some samples to get us comfortable with the presentation of the ideas.

Sample Common Core Assessment Questions

These can be hard to find for the high school level. But there are a few great resources out there.

  • Smarter Balanced Assessment examples. This is a large file to download, but if you want to see the beginning of the creation of these assessments it is worth your time and computer “space”. Be sure to scroll down to mathematics, it is near the bottom of the page.
  • Illustrative Mathematics has been updated. If you have not been there lately, they have added tasks for almost every standard. This is a great place to start, and I use their ideas in my own assessments.
  • The sample assessments put out by the NYSED only goes up through eighth grade. But I will be teaching some of the Common Core seventh and eighth grade standards until the transition is done in our district. This is also a great way to stay up on what our students “should” be able to do when they enter ninth grade.

Whats Next?

This post will be updated as new updates are published or new resources are found. Please feel free to bookmark it to find later.
I have also been working on creating assessments for my algebra1teachers website. They are only available through my newsletter. (My small attempt to keep them out of the hands of my students.) Please feel free to sign up here.

There is also a template for creating your own performance task. Please feel free to take a look.

How you can help?

Please let me know if you know of any resources for the Common Core Assessments that I have missed. I would love to keep this as current as possible.

Enjoying Summer and Learning Lessons

As my husband and I wait for the band to start, we can’t help but notice the impressive display of instruments lined up along the back wall. I start noticing the fiddle, and the banjo, and the beautiful guitars. I begin getting excited for the music to start. My husband and I have managed to get ourselves our favorite front and center seats at the gorgeous Fredrick Meijer Gardens.

We are there to see Emmylou Harris. You see, I am a coal miner’s granddaughter and I was raised on bluegrass music. It is a warm summer evening in Michigan and a sunset cannot come to soon. But everyone is happy to be there and the music is about to begin.

When Emmylou comes on stage, everyone stands. A small part of me, as a math teacher, wonders what that feels like. But it is deserved. Her first song is amazing and everyone is silent. She has a confidence and really enjoys being on stage. At least she appears that way to everyone in the place.

The band joins her for the second song and the tune changes into an upbeat number. Everyone is tapping their feet.

It is at this point that the math teacher kicks in. I wonder why I can’t just enjoy the evening air and the sangria? But, I think of my students. If Emmylou played the same song over and over again… Do I do that to my kids? She and her band have instruments lined up, tools ready to be used, to engage the audience. The instruments change often, and the sound changes, she has the audience at the palm of her hand. Maybe I need to do that more in my classroom. Maybe we all do?

The tunes go from up beat to gospel to remembrance and sad. But, because of careful planning we are all in, and loving every minute. She won us over before sharing a story about her dad. And respect was earned before her song My Name is Emmett Till.

The whole band was happy to be on stage, and it showed! Are we always happy to be in class? And if not, can we still put on the performance?

At one point, Emmylou even pulled the drummer out front to sing. He was uncomfortable with one hand in his pocket and the other in his ear. And even though he would not have chosen to leave his loyal drums, you could tell he was happy for the opportunity to step out.


What can we learn as educators? Enjoy your students, they can feel it. Respect is earned. And once respect is earned, boundaries can be pushed (theirs and ours). Tools don’t have to be used, but what is lost? Kids don’t want to sit and listed to the same thing everyday as much as I would not like to listen to the same concert every night. There is something exciting about anticipation, change, surprises. How can I use that in my class. What tools do I need to perfect?

I want to engage my students. Emmylou certainly engaged her audience. I hope I am able to take these lessons to heart.