What are Common Core Standards Anyway? 7 Sure-fire Antidotes to Curing Common Core Confusion!

What are Common Core Standards Anyway? 7 Sure-fire Antidotes to Curing Common Core Confusion!


First of all, I think it’s really important that we establish a few things about the Common Core before we get rolling on figuring out what we DO about them…you might even find yourself thinking what are common core standards?

  • There is a big discrepancy between how we currently prepare kids for college/work life post-graduation and how we need to
  • The #1 class taken in college is a literacy/reading class
  • By 2018 64% of jobs will require a college education…and we are nowhere near producing kids that will meet that need
  • Our current instructional practices are not evolving along at the same pace as our world
  • In other words: We’ve got to get moving to align what we’re teaching with what’s really needed in the real world.  Starting now.  Like right now!

The Common Core Standards are the nation’s plan to help districts, schools, teachers, and kids get from current practice to real-world-success.  And real-world-success for our students MUST be the measure of our teaching success or failure.

So, how do we get started when there’s so much “huh?” and scratching of the heads around this topic?  Well, you just get started.

How’s THAT for clarification???  🙂

I was working with one of our longtime clients last week and we discussed their need to “just get a plan together”.  In other words – we want to get started, show us how!  They’ve already gotten started with Step 1 – – during our summer training we focused on how to get started with a universal approach to the Common Core  – focusing on one strand to get started with – and focusing on one strand that is important to all content areas.  They chose Speaking and Listening.

But now they’re needing to move forward on a larger plan and a bigger, more long-term picture.  

So, we laid out a 1.5 year plan to roll out all of the standards systematically (i.e.: NOT like crazy wild people who are freaking out about the new implementation, but more like people who take into account that we have to do one thing at a time well before we screw up the whole thing, overload and frustrate the teachers and freak everyone out).

You wouldn’t know anyone like THAT would you?

Ahem.  Moving on….

So, here’s a picture of what we came up with for our long-term plan for rolling out the Common Core:

Then, we came up with simple steps that they could take (with coaching and leadership guiding the way) to study, plan, execute and refine each strand of the standards.  And here’s what we came up with:

1. Reading the CCSS strand K-12 thoroughly

2. Analyze the CCSS focus strand for your grade level – – list the following:

  • What current instruction/material from the core program stays?  (appx. 50%)
  • What current instruction/material from the core program needs to be removed altogether? (appx. 20-25%)
  • What new instruction/resources need to be added? (appx. 20-25%)
  • What current instruction/material from the core program needs to be tweaked? (appx. 20-25%)

3. Choose key language from the standard – what are the terms that the CCSS use for this standard?  Move this language into student friendly terms/definitions.

4. Plot out CCSS by week (which standards will be taught/modeled/guided practiced when?) – use planning tools from our summer training to do this.  Start to plot out what the CCSS report card will look like for this strand

5. Create lessons – refer to Common Core Aligned Lesson Plan Template (see included doc following)

6. Create simple assessments/check-outs on the key skills from this strand.  (Rubrics, released test items, etc.)  Collect assessments (this will link to your work on creating the CCSS report card)

7. Reflect on your planning, preparation, assessment, student progress.  Make adjustments to your lessons/instructional plans to improve for next year.

The big idea was this: We don’t get farther down the road when we freak out and we certainly will not have all of the information that we need before we get started, but that doesn’t mean that getting started is the wrong thing to do!

In fact, teaching is often a discovery project – – we learn what to do, what not to do, how to adjust, what’s working, what’s not…WHILE we’re doing the work!

So, what’s one of these steps that you think your school is missing?  Which are you poised to do well?  Leave a comment below! I want to hear from you!