Curriculum coherence requires a focus on interconnections, or big ideas. Big ideas represent fundamental principles; they are the ideas that link the specifics.

Big ideas form the framework for the learning of the important mathematics and they span across many grade levels. Differentiated instruction and the asking of good questions which meet the needs of a wide range of students in the classroom started with this approach to teaching through the big ideas.

Outside the classroom, we were focusing on deconstructing the expectations, figuring out what is important to each by 'filtering through big ideas' and planning lessons. Teachers looked at a curriculum expectation in light of the big ideas for the strand and focus in on appropriate lesson goals and consolidating questions.

In this video clip, teachers are co-planning their lessons and deciding on math lesson goals. They were thinking about what they wanted the students to learn in the lesson – is the goal about isolating a variable, or solving equations? Once teachers decided on what the goal was, they designed tasks and planned questions that brought the big ideas to the surface. The big idea for this lesson was that algebraic reasoning is a way to describe and work with mathematical relationships that apply to a large number of situations; and variables, or letters, are often used to efficiently describe these relationships.