Unpacking Guiding Principles: Massachusetts Common Core

Yesterday afternoon, I spent the second of three planned afternoon PD sessions with colleagues in ELA, unpacking various elements of the new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that reflect our state’s adoption of the Common Core Curriculum. Much of our inquiry yesterday was looking at the Guiding Principles, which form the underpinning of the entire document. Each of us was given a Guiding Principle to read and understand, and then we identified key words and phrases that captures the essence of our principle, which we then shared out to the larger group.

I took notes and made this word cloud.
Mass Common Core Guiding Principles

I’d like to point out a few things that we noticed:

  • Mostly, we thought the Guiding Principles were on track with our views of teaching;
  • We noticed that cultural differences and heritages were represented, although they exist in the shadows of “standard English” and “American culture” references;
  • Creativity gets only a few mentions but the phrases of nurturing “the power of imagination” and for students to “create worlds unseen” are at least areas where we can drop anchor for creative writing;
  • The scaffolding of increasing complex texts and writing is evident throughout the document;
  • Struggling students, and the various techniques to reach them, are noted in the document, which was appreciated by our group of teachers;
  • Connections to families, the community and role models were a bit surprising to see as their own principle, and greatly appreciated by our group.

Peace (in the principles),


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