Aligning curriculum to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a complex, yet rejuvenating journey, and one that should not be traveled alone. My summer quest to align my curriculum resulted in many trials and tribulations; however, it was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to strengthen our educational system, and we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were paving the way for others.
Read on to watch a video illustrating my crosswalk process — that, is the process of aligning previous units, identifying gaps, and eliminating less important content — and to download the graphic organizer that guided me through this complicated process.
Image: iStockphoto © KeithBishop.
While it's easy to create new units following the standards, the crosswalk process is difficult and messy. At first, I tried to identify all the CCSS in each unit. It was a disaster because I couldn't identify the gaps. I ended up creating a crosswalk graphic organizer instead. Focusing on one standard at a time helped me identify all the learning experiences and resources that addressed each standard. If I was unable to address a standard, I wrote a note, "Focus on . . . ," so I would remember to go back to it after I was done. To see exactly how I used the graphic organizer during my crosswalk process, watch the video below:
Middle school and high school English teachers are welcome to download the blank crosswalk graphic organizers that I created for the teachers at Lowville Academy Central Schools:
All other English and math educators may want to use the CCSS Crosswalk blank template. Copy and paste each state standard into the cells in the left-hand column of the chart. The learning experiences that address each standard are bulleted in the right-hand column. When you reach the last cell in the last row, continue tabbing to add as many rows as you need.
I began the journey with “Reading Standards for Literature” and “Reading Standards for Informational Text.” However, if you read my post “Bridging the Gaps With Multigenre Thematic Units,” you understand why the process felt awkward and repetitive. Every unit encompasses multiple genres, so I was listing learning experiences from each unit under each standard. If you start to feel this way, keep in mind that the repetitiveness can be a good thing because it provides opportunities to reinforce skills and spiral text complexity. However, sometimes repetition suggests that there is more focus on one standard and less on another. As you continue your journey, it will become apparent which learning experiences can be cut in order to dedicate more time to digging deeper into complex text.
As I worked my way through the crosswalk, I noticed that some areas were more fleshed out than others. At this point, I went back into my units and modified or created lessons to encompass these standards.
My final crosswalk document is 16 pages long — not a useful tool in the everyday life of a teacher. So I designed a “Standards at a Glance” checklist, a one-page document (in Microsoft Excel and as a PDF) identifying the units and the standards that are assessed in each of them. This checklist guides the modification and development of subsequent units. By default, the CCSS checklist prints on legal size paper; however, if you don't mind smaller fonts, select "fit to page" and it will print on 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
Use this handy “Year-at-a-Glance" calendar from the Scholastic Tearcher Plan Book for viewing your units or learning experiences on a single page. It is the first page in my curriculum mapping binder. Though I plan my units ahead of time, as the year unfolds, I may tap into authentic learning experiences such at the 9/11 remembrance ceremonies. This means something has to be sacrificed. Fortunately, it is not a problem because the “Standards-at-a-Glance” document is behind my “Year-at-a-Glance Calendar” in the plan book. I simply address these standards using the new content.
Curriculum mapping is a work in progress. Since we are all venturing into uncharted territory, it would be nice to hear how you are aligning your curriculum. Please feel free to share your experiences.