Materials Adaptation, Standards-Alignment Information, Tools and Resources

Using What You Have

An introduction to supplementing and adapting instructional materials

Update 12/22/2016: The Textbook Navigator discussed in this article is currently suspended due to lack of funding.

In a survey of district leaders from October 2014, more than 80% of those surveyed agreed that implementing the Common Core required new or substantially revised curriculum materials. The trouble is that getting those new materials in front of students is easier said than done. Many districts do not have funding to purchase a brand new K-12 curriculum; others have funding now and must purchase – even if they don’t see a strong Common Core-aligned option – or they will lose funding. The good news is that much of what you have on your classroom shelves can be transformed into a customized set of Common Core-aligned materials through supplementing and adapting.


Supplementing is the process of adding lessons or units to your existing curriculum to ensure that all of the Standards are addressed in their entirety. For instance, as a 2nd grade teacher, you are expected to ensure your students know, from memory, all of the sums of two, one-digit numbers, but if your curriculum leaves no time for fluency practice, you’ll need to supplement with additional fluency activities. As an 8th grade English teacher, you may notice that, while your current curriculum includes writing practice, there may not be adequate attention paid to the editing and revision process – again you’d need to supplement.


Adapting is the process of altering your existing curriculum to better meet the Standards. This may eventually include supplementing, but first requires you to take stock of what needs to change within your existing content. For example, if you notice that your 3rd grade math curriculum spends an equal amount of time introducing the names of shapes as it does introducing the concept of multiplication, you’ll need to remove some of the content on shapes since that is considered a supporting cluster within the Standards and you need to spend more time on multiplication (considered ‘major work’ for third grade).

Your 3rd grade ELA curriculum may already include strong literary texts that you would like to continue using, but you know that the comprehension questions do not require students to regularly cite evidence from the text in their answers. You can adapt those units (or use other teachers’ adaptions) to provide strong, evidence-based questions and continue using the same texts.

Here are some free tools and resources to help you start supplementing or adapting your materials:

Textbook Navigator/Journal – Developed by William Schmidt, a math education researcher at Michigan State University, this tool allows you to analyze your textbook for coverage of each standard. After entering the textbook you use, you can:

  1. Find out which lessons in your textbook cover which standards
  2. Search by standard to see if your textbook (or textbook series) addresses that standard (perhaps it’s addressed at a different grade level within the same series and you could photocopy the lesson for your students)
  3. Access recommended supplementary lessons if a search shows that your textbook is missing content

Illustrative Mathematics – This site houses math lessons organized by standard, so if you know a particular one is missing from your current textbook, you can easily find lessons with which to supplement.

The Read Aloud Project, Basal Alignment Project and Anthology Alignment Project – These collections contain teacher-created lessons to use with popular read-aloud books, basal readers, and anthologies. You can search by series to find replacement lessons. You can find these lessons on or join the community on Edmodo to ask questions and discuss the resources with other educators.

The Vermont Writing Collaborative – This site offers Common Core-aligned “backward designed” writing lessons that help students build the skills they need to write high-quality, content-filled written work.

What are some tools you’ve been using to supplement or adapt your instructional materials? Join the conversation using #CCSSmaterials.

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About the Author: Student Achievement Partners is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving student achievement through evidence-based action. Founded by some of the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards, the organization works closely with educators and other partners in the education field ensure the promise of the Common Core is realized in classrooms across the country.