Resources for Unpacking Learning Goals

Unpacking a Learning Goal (aka Science Standard)

Use the resources linked below to answer the following questions about the learning goal (standard).
  • Knowledge of Standards: What are the subtopics, processes, essential skills that students must understand to be proficient in this learning goal?
  • Prerequisite Knowledge: What do students need to understand BEFORE you can address these topics?
  • Misconceptions: What prior (mis)understandings are students likely to have about these topics?
  • Resources for teaching: How are the topics related to this standard typically addressed by textbooks? What experiences, representations, and phenomena are useful to teach these topics?

Online Resources:

National Standards

Online versions of National Standards Documents:

Rhode Island Standards

Online renderings of the original Rhode Island Standards Documents.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Student Misconceptions



  • Students Ideas in Science This site includes links to various collections of misconceptions cataloged by educational researchers in the 1980s.
  • Misconception Podcasts - A collection of podcasts from the Orange County Science Office explaining specific science misconceptions that students might have.
  • A Private Universe - "This video brings into sharp focus the dilemma facing all educators: Why don't even the brightest students truly grasp basic science concepts? Interviews are held with high school students and Ivy League graduates asking them to explain what causes the seasons and the phases of the moon. Even the brightest students in the class have false ideas based on enduring misconceptions that traditional instructional methods cannot overcome." (From the Learner.org website)
  • Lessons From Thin Air - "Just about everyone will agree that trees are made from sunlight, water, and soil the trees suck up from their roots. But the surprising truth is that trees are made from air! Trees are solar-powered machines that convert air into wood. Why is it that, despite the fact that photosynthesis is one of the most widely taught subjects in science, so few people really understand the central idea underlying this system? Starting with this question, program two explores why something taught in school can go unlearned and shows that we often teach without regard to what children actually need to know." (From the Learner.org website)
  • Wikipedia List of Common Misconceptions