Common Core Toolkit for Principals: Part 1

c4-project-logomy district’s plan to realign our curriculum with the Common Core State Standards (which we are calling the C4 Project, for Cheltenham Common Core Curriculum), I will be developing a Toolkit for Principals. Each month, I will prepare a four-part package of resources and activities they can use both for their Online generic cialis 100 mg own professional development and as part of faculty meetings with their staff members. The four parts each month will be

  1. Think: a warm up article, blog post, or video to set the stage for a faculty discussion
  2. Share: two activities principals can use with staff members during the month in faculty or team meetings
  3. Test Drive: A key instructional practice that teachers can try out in their classrooms without expectations
  4. Explore: Links to other resources with more information for those who want to dig deeper

Though these kits will be geared heavily towards the particular needs of our own district, I thought others might find them useful, and so I’ll be posting them here. Enjoy, and please do give me feedback on what is working and what you’d like to see in future toolkits!

January Toolkit: Focus on Transfer


Before the next faculty meeting, begin by reading this article from Grant Wiggins’ Blog: Learning about learning from soccer.

Consider these questions as you read:

  1. What parallels do you see between soccer and the learning that happens in your classroom?
  2. What do you agree or disagree with in Wiggins’ post?
  3. BONUS: Write a comment on Grant’s blog with your reflection or reaction



Try one or both of these activities in a faculty or team meeting:

Transfer in Practice

  1. Bring one upcoming lesson from any class you are teaching, preferably in the next week
  2. Identify the transfer goal implied by the content and skills in the lesson. What is it that students will be using outside of school and in life beyond graduation? What is the “game condition” for this topic or skill?
  3. With a grade partner, plan an activity or project where students can demonstrate that transfer goal.
  4. BONUS: Try out the activity before the next faculty meeting.

Thinking about Understanding

(Adapted from an activity in the Understanding by Design Professional Development Workbook)

Understanding is a key prerequisite (or at least a co-requisite) of transfer. So what do we mean when we say someone “understands” something? Think about these quotes, then in a small group write a statement that completes this phrase: “Someone who understands…”

Men just don’t understand women!

I didn’t really understand it until I had to use it.

Although I disagree, I can understand the opposition’s point of view.

She knows the answer but doesn’t understand why it is correct.




Each day this month, try one of these simple techniques for focusing on transfer in the classroom:

  • Alert: Explicitly draw students’ attention to the transfer goal by pointing out how the skill is useful outside of school, or by demonstrating an example of how you have used it in practice.
  • Predict: Ask students after a lesson to predict when the skill, concept, or topic would apply Online propecia uk to something outside of school, or how their parents might need to use it.
  • Connect: Talk about how this topic or skill connects to something they learned earlier in the year, something they will be learning in a later unit, or something Levitra sales online from a Cheapest viagra usa different subject.
  • Reflect: Ask students to reflect on their own use and understanding of the skill. What works? What doesn’t? How could you understand better?
  • BONUS: Try one of these techniques yourself when thinking about your own planning and instruction, or share your own reflections in the comments below.

(Click here for even more techniques to try.)



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

Coming next month…

You may be asking, “This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with the Common Core?” In the next toolkit, we will make the connection explicit and explore how transfer plays a key role in successfully implementing the Standards.

18 comments for “Common Core Toolkit for Principals: Part 1

  1. Mary Alise Herrera
    December 23, 2012 at 1:47 am

    This is great! Thanks for sharing so openly.

    Mary Alise

    • December 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      Mary Alise, I know many school and district leaders are working to come up with similar kinds of things. No sense not sharing. We’re all working together for the same goal.

  2. December 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    You seem to be focusing on skills useful “outside of school” in life, but where is that in that stated goals of the Common Core which are supposed to make student “career and college ready”

    I hope you will be stressing “college readiness” as well as “career readiness” in your toolkit.

    As a professor at an open admission college, I see most students don’t know how to engage with a difficult text, reading and rereading it, and then taking it apart.

    • December 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      Joe, the ultimate goal of all education is skills useful outside of school. Certainly college readiness is a large part of the Common Core and an important step in that ultimate goal for many students.

      The idea of engaging with complex text is definitely a core principle in the ELA Standards, and something that I will be exploring in future toolkits. I definitely appreciate the feedback and suggestion. My goal for now, though, is to focus on familiarity with the big ideas and concepts that are different in the CCSS from our current system.

      The purpose of my toolkit, though, is not to be an utterly comprehensive approach to everything there is to know and understand about the CCSS. It is simply to provide one component of professional development to principals in a ready-to-use form that can be implemented in manageable chunks. My district (and I presume all others) will be doing significantly more to prepare our teachers to teach with the Common Core, and much of the more extensive PD will focus on specific techniques and teaching approaches.

      I also intend this to be a long-term project, probably continuing for the three years we plan to take to fully align our curriculum, so there will certainly be room for more content-specific toolkits down the road. Thanks again for the response and the suggestion.

  3. Lori DiGisi
    December 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate your format: think, share, test drive , explore. I see this working with district leaders that I work with in professional development sessions. Thank you!

    • December 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Lori, thanks for the feedback. I would love to hear how you are using this with other schools and leaders, and would also appreciate suggestions on what you’d like to see in future toolkits. As I said, I’m designing them specifically for the needs of my district, but I’m sure that other places will have some similar needs, and I welcome input from anyone who’s using it.

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