How to Implement Common Core Curriculum State Standards?

By Farah Mendoza

For the past couple of years, administrators pushed for the implementation of the California Common Core State Standards (CCCSS).  Some teachers reluctantly joined this new approach of teaching, while other teachers eagerly joined the cause just like me groping into the confusing maze of Common Core Standards.  In spite of all odds, I managed to learn how to implement CCCSS after two years of collaboration with other teachers and professional development.  

The first time I encountered Common Core, I had one question that propelled me into understanding the implementation of CCCSS.  How am I going to implement this CCCSS successfully?  With the assistance of Mrs. Rhea Faeldonea-Walker, Sweetwater Highs School Union District English Curriculum Specialist, I was able to find a light – a road to CCCSS implementation.  Implementing the Credit Recovery Curriculum she created made me ponder about the proper steps I had to do for our English Language Development (ELD) Department.   Here is how my colleague and I did the planning:

  1. Common Core Standards: With the assistance of my ELD Department, at Sweetwater High School, particularly Ms. Guadalupe Gonzales, we classified the ELD California Core Standards into three text types, namely: narrative, argumentative or persuasive, and informative or expository.  Some standards repeated from other categories and some across the board.  It did not matter.  This way, we knew which standards to emphasize.  Knowing and understanding the standards helped us plan for the skills that students need to master.  I acquired this idea while observing the ELA cohorts planned for their Cohort meetings.
  2. Curriculum: Next step, we created a quarterly curriculum, which aligns to CCCSS.  Ultimately, this part covered the rest of the steps.  This was a painstaking and long process of planning because we worked together during our Pullout Days and during our Preparation Period.  Then, we continuously modified lessons every day. 
    1. Theme: Initially, we chose a thematic unit using our textbook such as “Together as One” for quarter 1, which focused on working together.
    2. Sources: After deciding on the theme, we gathered different text types such as magazine articles, blogs, Op-ed, news articles, short stories, novels, etc.  Since our textbook does not provide audio, we searched the Internet particularly Youtube videos produced by TED Talks.  We also included visual images and quotes. For example:
    3. Performance Task:  This refers to the text type students’ will produce at the end of each quarter.  Since the first quarter is narrative and expository, students will write an autobiographical story and explanatory essays.  However, we always covered other text types to utilize as assignments. For the expository, we directed students to use the different sources listed above through proper citation.  For the narrative, students studied the author’s style and imitated his/her way of writing.  Here’s an example of performance tasks: 
    4. General Overview of Lessons: Now, we knew our expectation at the end of the quarter; then, we created a series of activities that led to the accomplishment of these performance tasks.  Usually, we introduced skills gradually with a lot of differentiation.  Since we are teaching English as a second language, we emphasized repetition of skills through different activities such as paraphrasing, quoting, summarizing, etc.  This page is the skeleton of the curriculum.  See example:
    5. Detailed Lesson Plan: This part of curriculum planning involved detailed implementation of the General Overview of Lessons.  To align with CCCSS, we made sure that we have the Daily Learning Target for each activity.  If an activity involved multiple directions, we wrote it step by step knowing that our students tend to be confused with wordy directions.  The example given below shows the structure of each of the lessons: 
    6. Assessment:  Finally, assessment is part of curriculum planning that gauged students’ mastery of standards.  We used the results to identify who needed afterschool tutorial.  Also through this assessment, we were able to identify skills that needed re-teaching.

If this is your first time to create a curriculum, I hope this helps you in creating your own.