Explaining the Instructional Shifts

The Common Core demands significant shifts in how students are taught. These shifts in instruction will require that many teachers learn new skills and reflect upon and evolve in their classroom practices. For example, ELA teachers must ensure a balance of literature and informational text and a dramatic increase in the amount of time and attention students spend in evidence-based analysis of what they are reading. In math, teachers must spend more time on less content, driving toward true mastery through a new level of fluency with math facts as well as a new comfort with real world application.

Print the Instructional Shifts in Table Format


Shift 1 - Balancing Informational & Literary Text
Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts.
Shift 2 - Knowledge in the Disciplines
Students build knowledge about the world (domains/ content areas) through TEXT rather than the teacher or activities.
Shift 3 - Staircase of Complexity
Students read the central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers are patient, create more time and space and support in the curriculum for close reading.
Shift 4 - Text-based Answers
Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence based conversations about text.
Shift 5 - Writing from Sources
Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.
Shift 6 - Academic Vocabulary
Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.


Shift1 - Focus
Teachers significantly narrow and deepen the scope of how time and energy is spent in the math classroom. They do so in order to focus deeply on only the concepts that are prioritized in the standards.
Shift 2 - Coherence
Principals and teachers carefully connect the learning within and across grades so that students can build new understanding onto foundations built in previous years.
Shift 3 - Fluency
Students are expected to have speed and accuracy with simple calculations; teachers structure class time and/or homework time for students to memorize, through repetition, core functions
Shift4 - 
Deep Understanding
Students deeply understand and can operate easily within a math concept before moving on. They learn more than the trick to get the answer right. They learn the math.
Shift 5 - Application
Students are expected to use math and choose the appropriate concept for application even when they are not prompted to do so.
Shift 6 - Dual Intensity
Students are practicing and understanding. There is more than a balance between these two things in the classroom – both are occurring with intensity.