The first step in developing a Common Core unit is to bring a PLC (Professional Learning Community) team together. The PLC team would be made up from content teachers who specialize in the same content area. The PLC content specific team of teachers would work together to determine existing gaps between the current curriculum and the new Common Core standards. One way to determine the gaps between the current curriculum and the Common Core would be to use the Content Analyzer.
Using the Content Analyzer allows a PLC team of teachers to align the common core standards as they are compared to one state’s standards. In this process, each the PLC teams for a designated grade level will review the current state standards as they best matchup to the Common Core curriculum. The use of the Content Analyzer is one of the many tools to help determine any gaps that occur between the two curriculum sets. Identifying gaps is a process that will help identify the discrepancy, or the gap, between the current state curriculum – “What Is” –which is identified teacher practices–and the Common Core curriculum.
A gap occurs when content previously taught at one grade level is now included in the Common Core at an earlier grade level. Thus, as students move to the next grade, they will miss exposure to that content. The gap may occur between one or more grade levels. A gap does not occur if the content is now present in an upper grade level. This simply means that students will be exposed to that content in a later grade. Using the Content Analyzer is a process designed to guide schools or school districts in identifying where gaps in the current curriculum may occur as they begin to transition to the new Common Core Standards. (See resource link below: How to Read SEC Charts)
Completion of the gap analysis will enable the PLC Team to answer the equity and adequacy questions relative to curricular practices. The following short guide outlines recommended steps for beginning in-depth analyses to focus the work of state education agencies, districts, or school leaders in leading change in curriculum and instruction to meet the new Common Core Standards. The following link provides a short guide to recommended steps for beginning in-depth analyses to aligning existing state curriculum to the Common Core. (Content Analyzer)
The Content Analyzer is also a useful tool for determining essential standards. Essential standards are those grade level/content standards that students must master in order to be successful in school. These standards offer high focus and priority for instructional time, attention, and resources. According to D. B. Reeves, Essential Standards help teachers to focus on the most important standards for the grade level and subject area. Reeves classifies essential standards in three different categories;
Standards that have endurance provide students with knowledge and skills that will be of value beyond a single test date.
Standards that have leverage provide knowledge and skills that will be of value in multiple disciplines.
Standards that ensure readiness for the next level of learning that provide students with essential knowledge and skills that are necessary for success in the next grade or next level of instruction.