Unpack the TEKS

Welcome to the world of TEKS! Before reading this post, please understand that I am so not a weirdo and there is absolutely no reason why I should be able to tell you so much information about how to accurately analyze TEKS the way I’m about to. Forgive me now.

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So, let’s get started! First, I think it is important to know that all TEKS regardless of content area are outlined the same. They have four essential parts that support teachers in understanding what should be taught. For the sake of time, I will limit our focus to fourth grade math:

Part I: Introduction

This is the part that most teachers never read. Now, that I think about it… I don’t think I was ever advised to read the introduction. I recall always going straight to Part III (SE’s). Any who, we as educators must STAWP doing this because this section is loaded with information we need to know. It gives us a great overview of what our students will specifically learn in this current grade level. Check it out.

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So I picked up a few important things I would want my fourth grade teachers to know:

  • Texas has good intentions. Do not laugh.
  • The process standards should be apart of instructional planning as it tells us exactly how the students will engage in the content. We should not be confused how a skill could be assessed.
  • Students must develop number sense and be conditioned to understand that problem solving takes time, effort, and perseverance. I think another bigger unstated takeaway is teachers must model this behavior. Every activity in the classroom should not be rushed. Some problems should be allotted an extensive amount of time as students engage in dialogue about how they could solve it various ways.
  • The big focal points are: use of operations, fractions, and decimals and describing and analyzing geometry and measurement. There are limits in all areas.
  • Including: must be mastered. Such as: possible illustrative examples.

Part II: Strand

The strands are made up of standards that are grouped and categorized. The strand is located right after the number. In this case, the strand is Geometry and Measurement. For those who are curious about the numbering of the TEKS… the first number corresponds to the grade level. The second number is the Knowledge and Skills number. Click here for a snapshot of the TEKS provided by Lead4Ward.

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Part III: Knowledge and Skills Statement

The Knowledge and Skills Statements give teachers an overview of the big ideas or concept that must be understood in the current grade level. It immediately follows the strand. One thing to keep in mind…

Many teacher impart knowledge but lack giving students’ opportunities and freedom to sharpen their skills. Have you ever noticed how often we say “I taught that. They know this. Why did they get this wrong on the test?” Well…. it’s because the students can recall facts about the concept; however, they have not developed the skills (behaviors and procedures) to apply (process standards) their knowledge to different situations.

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Part IV: Student Expectations

The Student Expectations are what we know well but often miss the mark when effectively teaching it. Let me explain…. SE’s are #LOADED with content. How often do we sit and break down one SE beyond the nouns, verbs, vocab, and potential gaps?

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Example: 4.5 Algebraic reasoning. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop concepts of expressions and equations. (A) represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using strip diagrams and equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity.

This SE has two skills the students must understand although its jumbled in one sentence:

  • The students must represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using strip diagrams.
  • The students must represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity.

Extra Information

I highly recommend you do not stop here when completing a TEKS Study. You should spend time analyzing the supporting information, dissecting the vertical alignment, researching instructional vocabulary, analyzing test items and overviewing your campus data, and sooooo much more!

I have created a TEKS Study Form that will benefit you in so many ways! It also has outside resources that you should use every time you analyze Math TEKS.


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