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Professional Development: Why the Common Core? How these Standards are Different

Grades K–High School

Overview: The "Why the Common Core? How these Standards are Different" Module is a 1–1.5 hour module designed to provide you with the background information necessary to understand how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) play a role in improving education. It answers the question: How are these standards different than the latest versions of any individual state’s standards? During this module, you will look at the rationale for these standards and then an overview of the major math and ELA/literacy shifts required by the CCSS.

How to Get Started: You are encouraged to customize any or all portions of this module to meet your needs, or the needs of your audience if you are facilitating this module for professional development. Be sure to read the User's Guide first! You can find it below the PowerPoint presentation.

What's in this Module?

  1. User's Guide
  2. PowerPoint Presentation
  3. Two Activities
  4. Related Research and Readings

You can download all components of this module by clicking "Download All" on the left. You can also scroll down to learn more about the different approaches to using this professional development and to preview the components of individual activities.

After completing this module, you are encouraged to engage with the key shifts required by the CCSSM through the iTunes U Courses, created by teachers for teachers.

PowerPoint Presentation

The PowerPoint presentation supports you in understanding how the Common Core State Standards are different than typical state standards that preceded them. The PowerPoint also includes an overview of the shifts. It is designed to be a first step in a series of professional development opportunities or as a strong foundation for outside stakeholders who may be wondering what the Common Core State Standards are all about. To view the notes that go with each slide, download the full PowerPoint.

User's Guide: Be Sure To Read This First!

The User's Guide is a detailed guide for you, the self-learner and/or facilitator. The guide includes a summary of the contents of the module, followed by suggestions for using the module, depending on the time available. There is a summary of each of the activities and full references/links for all papers, videos, and other web resources.

If you have 1 hour...
  • View the PowerPoint presentation
  • Complete one of the reflection activities
If you have 1.5 hours or more...
  • View the PowerPoint presentation
  • Complete both of the reflection activities

All times are suggested and can be expanded to incorporate more discussion as needed. Any portions of this module may be modified, reproduced, and disseminated without prior permission.

Two Activities

There are two embedded activities to guide reflective processing of the shifts and potential action planning.

Activity One: Reflecting on the Common Core Shifts
This is a very simple note-taking/reflection guide to support understanding of the shifts required by the Common Core State Standards. You can use the template that has the language of the shifts pre-populated (on the right) or you can fill the language of the shifts in yourself (on the left). You can also use this template while viewing the PowerPoint for note taking. 
Activity Two: Reflecting on Actions to Implement the Common Core State Standards
This framework guides you toward reflection that leads to action steps following your processing and understanding of the shifts.

The articles included below can be used in professional learning communities (PLCs) or as post-reading for this professional development session. These readings intend to support teachers' understandings of the intellectual and academic implications of the standards:

K–8 Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

This document is meant to guide purchasing and reviewing decisions, and establish quality criteria for materials used in the classroom. (Consider focusing on the Appendix, "The Structure is the Standards.")

High School Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

This document is meand to guide purchasing and reviewing decisions, and establish quality criteria for materials used in the classroom. (Consider focusing on the Appendix, "Lasting Achievements in K–8.")

 

Progressions Documents for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

The Progression Documents are a narrative of the Standards and "can explain why standards are sequenced the way they are, point out cognitive difficulties and pedagogical solutions, and give more detail on particularly knotty areas of mathematics."

Revised Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades K–2.

This document is meant to guide purchasing and reviewing decisions, and establish quality criteria for materials used in the classroom.

Revised Publishers' Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades 3–12.

This document is meant to guide purchasing and reviewing decisions, and establish quality criteria for materials used in the classroom.

Common Core State Standards for ELA and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects: Appendix A.

This document offers research demonstrating that while the complexity of reading demands for college and careers have risen over the past 50 years, the complexity of texts students are exposed to has decreased.

 

Supplemtal Information for Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Literacy: New Research on Text Complexity.

This document offers new research on text complexity: the official grade band ranges to use for text complexity, along with explanations of how to measure use the three parts of the text complexity triangle.

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