Infusing the Common Core State Standards has become a reality in today’s classroom. Unlike the back-to-school activities that are one-time-only actions, tackling the Common Core State Standards is an ongoing, ever-evolving process—a process that will take longer than one school year to fully master. However, even though the Common Core State Standards journey is a long one, you can effectively build a strategy that allows you to build powerful lesson plans that incorporate the evolving standards year after year.
Cover the Basics
Start with the present. Get organized with everything you’ll need to make this year a success. Find any new resources you’ll need to start this year’s Common Core Implementation Planning. Create folders for all of your important files. Talk to peers about which organizational tools help them the most. Get ready to start recording your journey.
For each month of the school year, lead off with whichever set of strategies that comes in handy during that particular month of your journey. To give you a jumpstart, we’ve targeted two strategies to help you set off on the right foot.
Build a Methodical Implementation Plan
- Recognize that this process is a long one, filled with twists and turns. Have patience with yourself and your progress.
- Establish your classroom practices and expectations in the first few weeks of school. A consistent structure with variability in targeted interactions allows students to know what to expect but also keeps them actively engaged on a day-to-day basis.
- The first month of school is typically busier than most with the many one-time, back-to-school events. Focus your time and effort on incorporating the CCSS into those initial activities.
- Reread your district’s curriculum guide and other materials you’ve gathered about the CCSS. Even familiar materials need to be newly considered in the context of the CCSS. Jot down any information that you don’t understand or want to research further.
- Even if you feel familiar with the standards and have lessons to support teaching them, drill down and pull apart exactly what each standard really means. Contemplate how you will modify your approaches to best determine how to measure mastery, differentiate and adapt instruction to meet your students where they are currently, and help them to make the progress you will need them to make during this school year.
Utilize Teamwork to Build a Unified Approach
- Take the first step in communicating with the families of your students about CCSS. Do not assume they are familiar with these acronyms. Establish with parents a yearlong partnership for each student’s success.
- Start a grade-level team for support. Meet regularly to generate ideas and inspiration.
- Invite a peer-partner to work with you. Commit to a mentoring relationship throughout the year. Two heads are often better than one when solving any issue. Peers can divide and conquer. Work together to establish the best choices for activities and approaches.
- Remember that your students are your partners, too. Many are apprehensive about a new year and a new teacher—add new standards on top of this and many students go onto immediate overload. Take small, clear steps with your students—and don’t underestimate them! When students understand your intentions and take ownership of their mastery of the standards, you can help them to understand not only the WHAT of the standards—they can begin to internalize WHY these standards matter.
- Check in with your principal about school policies and expectations. Your admin teams are most likely refining their approaches to match the evolving standards. It’s smart to confirm that your plan and approach marries with their vision for the school and/or district’s approach.
Set an Appropriate Pace
Consider these ideas for some CCSS goals for your first month back at school. Remember, a few goals well done will serve you and your students well.
By the end of this month, I will have . . .
- completed my milestone schedule for the year.
- a plan for increasing students’ range of complexity for reading.
- a strategy for integrating mathematical practices into my instruction.
- reviewed my district’s curriculum documents.
- determined my professional development needs.
For English/Language Arts and Literacy, I will have . . .
- given students opportunities to recall information.
- required students to ask and answer questions.
- challenged students to determine word meanings from context.
For Mathematics, I will have . . .
- modeled various ways to attack a problem—e.g., analyze, plan, etc.
- encouraged students to share their thinking during the analysis and solution stages of solving problems.
- required students to apply mathematics in solving everyday problems.
Expand Your Own CCSS Discovery Process
As you kick off this year and build rapport and routines for your students, consider creating a few smart CCSS habits for yourself. Keep a journal or log of your progress to track your own journey with CCSS or Next Gen Science Standards. One product that you might explore is the Common Core Kit for Success by Teacher Peach. This kit has as its centerpiece an amazing and quick-to-complete CCSS Playbook for Success. This playbook gives you step-by-step strategies, hints, and prompts to guide you through the school year. It’s a quick and simple model, two pages to prep, two pages to record, and two pages to reflect. This completed playbook makes a terrific addition to your teacher evaluation materials, too!
Stay tuned for more CCSS ideas in future blog posts. What are you doing to wisely integrate CCSS into your classroom? Share just two of your most successful ideas! Then check out Teacher Peach’s other blog posts about the CCSS.