common core

Seven instructional strategies for the Common Core

  • Understand the expected student outcome for each standard. Unpack the standard to determine the skills that students must master in order to achieve expected learning outcomes.
  • Differentiate instruction. Personalize learning experiences for all students—not just those who perform above the expected learning outcome—but also provide intervention or remediation for underperforming students.
  • Break down lessons into manageable concepts, and provide multiple teach/model/practice opportunities for different kinds of learners.
  • Support grade-level reading of complex texts by providing students with appropriate reading materials, including vocabulary instruction that applies the Three Tiers of Words: (1) common words, (2) high-frequency words, and (3) domain-specific words.
  • Demonstrate all forms of writing with students, and provide detailed explanations so they understand different writing forms. Educators should model the writing process on a daily basis in the classroom.
  • Reinforce conceptual understanding of key ideas in math instruction, and require students to justify why an answer is correct.
  • Infuse instruction with cross-curricular concepts to embed key ideas, and take advantage of repeated opportunities to integrate, apply, and synthesize standards.

Application of these strategies will help all teachers implement the new standards, no matter the level of support they currently receive. As schools gain more experience with the Common Core, teachers will be asked to demonstrate a different set of teaching skills. These strategies provide a strong foundation for that change.

Judith Coffey is co-founder and CEO of Rainbow Educational Concepts, a curriculum development group (

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