10 Tips for Aligning Your Curriculum to the Common Core State Standards

by Angie Barnett | Nov 25, 2014

10 Tips for Aligning Your Curriculum to the Common Core State Standards

Change is good. But change can also be hard. It can be challenging to adjust to new demands and create new habits that support a change. Depending on your state, you may be working to change much of your curriculum to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). To help you in this endeavor, we asked over 200 teachers in our recent Back to School Survey what has helped them align their curriculum to the CCSS. Although many admitted it is an overwhelming work in progress, here are a few suggestions from our survey participants:

1. Collaborate with Other Teachers

In aligning my curriculum to the Common Core, I have found TEAMWORK super helpful. However, getting the time to meet was our hardest issue. –1st Grade Teacher, WA

I have found that collaboration with other teachers has been the most helpful thing. –3rd Grade Teacher, UT

Teamwork has also helped to alleviate becoming frustrated. Stay calm and make sure you ask questions to your administrators or colleagues if you are confused. –1st Grade Teacher, NV

2. Utilize Online Resources

Use outside resources. There are a lot of sample lessons on the internet, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. –Middle School Teacher, IA

As a Pennsylvania Educator, the PA Department of education’s website offers significant resources for aligning to the common core. –High School Teacher, PA

UEN, U-tips, Reading Horizons, and any other state website that uses Common Core. They have really helpful things already designed. Also, Teachers Pay Teachers have some super things for not much money or free! –1st Grade Teacher, UT

Using planbook.com has helped. –K-5 Teacher, PA

3. Use Pre-Aligned Curriculum

Our curriculum has actually been adapted for us, which has made it very easy to align with the state standards. –Special Education Teacher, KY

Knowing the standards for your grade level; seeking out correlation materials provided by the publishers of materials used at your school. –3rd Grade Teacher, NJ

Use materials that are aligned. –Grades 5-6 Teacher, PA

4. Read Current Articles

The common core is a work in progress. I have found it helpful to read as many current articles and books about the common core as possible. –1st Grade Teacher, MN

5. Focus on Foundational Skills

Providing my students with a ROCK SOLID phonetic foundation and encouraging them to use these skills via reading. If they can read with ease, they will develop a love for reading, and everything else will fall into place. –K-6 Tutor, AZ

Reading Horizons has made it EASY to align to the CCSS! It’s what I am already doing –GED Teacher, PA

I feel that we will achieve more success with more emphasis on what narrative, informational and persuasive writing look like. Placing the process on first reading and then using mentor text to compare before writing gives students more information about what their own writing looks like. Within this, we can incorporate the six traits and writer’s workshop. The line of questioning for close reading has put new demands on how we question students. Allowing them to create their own questions and work collaboratively brings higher student growth. –1st Grade Teacher, MN

An important foundational course includes a structured literacy emphasis.

6. Use Your Creativity

All standard curricula can be aligned with CCSS, it is just tweaks and thoughtful presentation changes. (In other words, there was nothing wrong with good teaching before CCSS; it was still good teaching if students were learning.) –Middle School Teacher, NY

7. Work Backwards

Backward design your year’s units with where you want to be. Spiral curriculum so the lessons support what has been done and foreshadow what is coming. Work with peers in your school, state, and online. –High School Teacher, IA

Think and plan what you want to teach first, then tweak it or find a standard to fit it. –GED Teacher, AZ

8. Attend In-Service Trainings

Likely, the most helpful element for alignment with Common Core Standards has been the availability of several PD opportunities to help define the detailed changes within each subject area. –K-12 Teacher, IN

Training workshops with our literacy coaches and dialogue with other teachers are helpful in aligning the new standards. –K-4 Teacher, TN

9. Review the Standards Frequently

I always review the standards on Sunday evening before I write my lesson plans and align my lessons with the Common Core. –High School Teacher, PA

Use texts available and refer to standards often. –3rd Grade Interventionist, MS

Really looking at the standards and mapping out which standards are best taught during which part of the school year. –1st Grade Teacher, NJ

10. Take it One Step at a Time

Taking one standard at a time and unwrapping it. –Middle School Teacher, CA

Share Your Story:

What’s your advice for aligning to the common core state standards? Post your thoughts under the comments section. We’d love to hear from you! Who knows, maybe your suggestions will help out a teacher in need!


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