March Toolkit: Starting the Shift

(Yes, I am aware that the March toolkit is being published in April. Life tends to happen, and I allowed it to delay the post. I will publish the April toolkit next week to get back on schedule.)


Before the next faculty meeting, read about the instructional shifts required by the Common Core. There are differing versions and descriptions of these, but one excellent one is here at Achieve the Core.

Remembering that ultimately the purpose of all instruction is transfer, and keeping your school’s mission in mind, think about these questions as you read. Watch out for a fixed mindset. If you find yourself thinking, “I’m already doing all of these,” or “they aren’t really important,” or “this won’t be relevant to my students,” check yourself and see if you are being really open to growing professionally.

  1. Which of these shifts do you believe you are already doing to some extent in your own teaching? For these, what is one thing you might do to move yourself further along the continuum of this shift?
  2. Which shift seems like it will be the most difficult for you? Why?


Try this activity in a faculty or team meeting:

Shifting Into Transfer

  1. Divide into teams of 3–4 teachers. If you already have natural team divisions (content areas, grade levels, etc.), use those.
  2. Each team should choose one shift from either ELA or Mathematics which they collectively agree will be difficult to implement.
  3. Draw a quick concept map (web) illustrating ways that this shift relates to important transfer skills and goals for students in your grade.
  4. Share maps and discuss as a faculty.
  5. BONUS: Share what you have been trying in your classroom so far from the last two Toolkits. Discuss what is working, what isn’t, and what help you need from your colleagues.


Choose any math or ELA shift from the document linked above. Depending on your personal comfort level, feel free to choose one you believe will be easy or challenging to implement. Think about one change you can make to your daily or weekly routine which will facilitate making the shift. Here are two simple suggestions to get your thinking started:

  • Choose and share a related non-​fiction piece of reading for each fiction selection you read.
  • Designate one day a week to solving rich, rigorous math problems that apply concepts from the week’s lessons and lead to deep transfer.

Also, continue the daily practices from the previous Toolkits:

BONUS: Share publicly (in a blog post, on a teacher-​community web site, or in the comments of this blog) your daily routine and how it is working for you.


Here are a few more resources on the shifts that you can check out if you want to learn more or dig deeper:

Coming next month…

Considering the critics: what are the problems with the CCSS, what opportunities does it present, and how will you choose to respond?

Previous posts in this series…

  1. January Toolkit: Focus on Transfer
  2. February Toolkit: Mission and Transfer within the CCSS