Collaboration and the Common Core

Steve Frederick, KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy

How Two Teachers Are Working Together to Raise the Bar for Kids

By Jennifer Wells, Mathematics Achievement Director, KIPP Foundation

When teachers collaborate, what effect does it have on students’ and teachers’ learning? This year, two longtime KIPP sixth grade math teachers are finding out.

Steve Frederick, at KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy in Denver, and Dave Nieder, of KIPP Academy New York, are working together to develop a sixth grade math curriculum. They are doing so through our Featured Teacher initiative, in which 10 highly effective teachers develop Common Core-aligned curriculum and share it with fellow math teachers across the KIPP network. This is part of a larger KIPP effort to provide teachers with the resources they need to build and innovate from as they prepare students for the more rigorous Common Core Standards.

The partnership started when Steve was asked to take an Assistant Principal position at his school, which would require a shift in his responsibilities. Having been involved as a Featured Teacher for over a year, Steve didn’t want to stop the work he was doing helping other teachers prepare for the transition to Common Core State Standards. As an Assistant Principal, he wouldn’t have a classroom of his own, so he wouldn’t be able to create and share materials for daily lessons to augment the unit plans and assessments he’d created so far. So he came up with a solution: partnering with a fellow teacher.

Fortunately, Dave Nieder, who has been teaching sixth grade math at KIPP Academy New York for 13 years, was excited to partner with Steve. Dave is able to pick up the work that Steve started, by implementing in his own classroom the materials Steve designed over the course of the last year. Then Dave creates daily lesson plans and materials to go with Steve’s framework, and then shares them as a Featured Teacher via KIPP’s online sharing portal, KIPP Share BetterLesson. Through this collaboration, Dave and Steve are showing how veteran teachers can work together, while simultaneously supporting their fellow educators across the country.

Thanks to this collaboration, sixth grade math teachers from schools throughout the KIPP network are regularly accessing and building on the materials that Steve and Dave have created. And it has also had an effect on Steve and Dave’s work as well. Working together as Featured Teachers has not only pushed them to raise the bar that they set for their own students, but has also helped them learn more about the Common Core and what they require. Dave says, “Working with KIPP teachers around the country and diving into KIPP Share BetterLesson encourages me to rethink (and reteach) lessons in order to reach more of my students in the best possible way.”

When reflecting on their collaboration and the potential that Common Core holds for teachers like them, both Steve and Dave are excited for what lies ahead. As Steve observes, “Teachers across the country are working to figure out the best way to teach the same standards. Amazing results should come from this, so long as we keep sharing ideas and asking for help along the way.”

To see an example of the Common Core-aligned lesson plans Steve and Dave are creating, click here to view one on Ratios and Ratio relationships >


Jennifer Wells is the Mathematics Achievement Director on the Teaching and Learning Labs Team at the KIPP Foundation. In this role she supports the Featured Teachers in the development and dissemination of Common Core aligned unit plans, unit assessments, and all associated curricular materials.