We at TpT believe the best ideas and approaches to learning come directly from educators. It’s why all the resources on TpT are created by Teacher-Authors who understand what works in the classroom. Teacher-Authors work incredibly hard to ensure that their fellow educators can meet the ever-evolving needs with high-quality, standards-aligned resources. Team TpT sat down with four Teacher-Authors to learn how they think about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) when creating and tagging resources to TpT.
Shelly Rees, 3rd-5th grade resources
Q. What’s your TpT story?
A. I taught upper elementary school for about 23 years — mostly 5th grade. In 2014, I started uploading and selling my creations on TpT, and then about two years ago, I left the classroom to do TpT full-time. In addition to my store, I also help other Sellers with my TpT-focused success course. It’s an eight-video series that addresses all the different ways TpT Sellers can help classroom teachers, one of which is the need to tag their resources with CCSS.
Q. Why do you think it’s important to tag resources with CCSS?
A. A lot of times, TpT Sellers live in states that don’t push CCSS, so they think that it’s the same way everywhere else. In fact, that’s not true. Right now, there are about 42 states that require teachers to use CCSS, so when Sellers don’t tag their resources, they’re missing out on an opportunity to help other teachers out there. There are also a lot of teachers who are required by their districts to document the standards that their lesson plans address. So when TpT Teacher-Authors can list the appropriate standards on their resources, it’s really helpful because teachers don’t have to hunt around for that information.
Q. What do you make sure to include or do when creating standards-aligned resources?
A. When I create a resource, I want to make sure that there are a variety of ways that teachers can approach a particular standard so that their students — no matter their level — can really master it. For example, I would not have just multiple choice questions for a particular standard. I would also have multiple choice, open-ended, and some deeper-level thinking questions. I want to make sure that I have a variety of ways that students and teachers are approaching that particular standard so it’s not just surface-level mastery.
Keith Geswein, 4th-6th grade ELA resources
Q. When you’re creating resources, how do you incorporate standards into your work?
A. When creating a resource, I’ll start off using a passage I’ve already written and then tinker with it to make sure it’s written for a specific grade level. Then, I’ll go to the standard I’m trying to meet, read it, and look up sample questions to make sure I’m on the right page. I actually have the standards physically next to me while I’m creating a resource. Once I have the passage written in a way that I can create activities for certain standards, I create activities, writing prompts, quizzes, and suggested lesson progressions.
Q. Why do you think it’s important to tag your resources with CCSS?
A. Teachers are required to gather so much data on their students throughout the year — especially on how they’re progressing on standards. When I was teaching, we had this giant data room where there was a huge spreadsheet that showed how each student was advancing. It was intense. That’s why I want to provide teachers with a way to accurately gather information and track how their students are progressing on ELA standards. I know it would’ve made my life so much easier when I was teacher if I had resources specifically tailored toward standards that I had to teach to.
Q. What’s an example of the kind of feedback you’ve received from Buyers because you’ve tagged your resources with CCSS?
A. I’ve had teachers leave feedback saying they wish there was more for that certain standard. One teacher said of a resource, “This is incredible! This is the high quality of reading content and level of questioning that I want my students to use… I would love to see more content like this on this standard!”
Heather LeBlanc, Brainy Apples, 6th-10th grade U.S. History resources
Q. What’s the process by which you create your standards-aligned resources?
A. Right now, I’m working on a full-year U.S. history curriculum. Once I decided what the units were going to be, I cross-referenced a few different state standards, and also looked at the national social studies standards. Using those as a reference, I then chose what topics were going to be included in each unit. After that, I did a lot of research because social studies is a subject area that is rich in both content and facts — and I like to make sure that my resources have background information that teachers can give their kids so they don’t have to struggle in coming up with or looking for that information. Once it’s written, I revise it to make sure the readability is appropriate for a middle school level. Then, I think about which reading and literacy standards the social studies lesson could also include. I don’t try to hit every standard in each lesson because that’s impossible to do, so I just try to see which literacy standards fall into that particular topic and then I create a couple of activities that hit them.
Q. What motivates you to tag your resources with CCSS for other social studies teachers?
A. When CCSS came out, middle and high school teachers couldn’t just teach social studies anymore; they also had to teach literacy in order to meet the national requirements. Social studies is already a challenge for many teachers because there’s so much content to cover in one year. On top of that, it’s really difficult for secondary teachers who aren’t trained in literacy to incorporate it into their social studies lessons. By tagging my resources, I let teachers know that these can not only help them teach their WWI unit, but also hit six or seven of their literacy standards, too. That way, if they get observed or if they need approval from their administrators, they can demonstrate how it hits the social studies standards, integrates literacy, and helps them be more effective teachers.
Q. Have you heard any great feedback because you tagged your resources with CCSS?
A. Yes. I’ve gotten lots of feedback on how my CCSS-tagged resources hit the standards they’re supposed to hit in a concise way. My customers felt like they knew what they were getting before they bought them. I’ve also gotten a ton of feedback on how they have saved them time, and how they don’t stress about turning lessons in to admin their admins because they know what’s in there.
Aris Rossi, Sailing into Second, 2nd grade resources
Q. Why did you decide to become a Teacher-Author on TpT?
A. I became a TpT Teacher-Author when I switched to the 2nd grade in 2013. I had a really hard time finding specific standards-aligned resources that were rigorous and could be used with my students. My admin was really adamant that whatever resources we used that weren’t from the textbook or part of the curriculum needed to be rigorous and aligned to what we were already teaching. I wasn’t finding those resources for my student demographic on TpT, so I just started creating them. At first, I just created resources that I could use with my kids and then it turned into creating resources that other primary teachers could use, too. That’s how my TpT journey began.
Q. How do you create standards-aligned resources to help other teachers who might be in a similar situation to the one you were in?
A. When I was in the classroom, our curriculum was really outdated, so my team and I created a hodgepodge of resources to help us meet our students’ needs. First, I would identify a need, and then, I would search around to see if there was anything out there that I could use so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. If there wasn’t something out there that was really specific to my student population, I’d work on creating it. I’d take the general Common Core standard or concept, and from there, would start developing a unit based on that standard. I’d have the standards pulled up from the website to make sure that I was really addressing them.
Q. Have you heard any great feedback because you tagged your resources with CCSS?
A. Yeah! I’ve gotten feedback from customers on social, email, and on TpT that it’s really helpful. One customer said, “I feel like I hit the jackpot finding this resource! Before coming across this amazing unit, I found it extremely difficult to find good resources on California Native Americans to use in a 4th grade class!”