Connecticut Core Standards

Course/Unit/Lesson Development - Curriculum Designers

Sample Planning Materials

Text Complexity Considerations

Please Note: The Lexile measure (text complexity) of a book is an excellent starting point for a student’s book selection. It’s important to understand that the book’s Lexile measure should not be the only factor in a student’s book selection process. Lexile measures do not consider factors such as age-appropriateness, interest, and prior knowledge. These are also key factors when matching children and adolescents with books they might like and are able to read. Lexile codes provide more information about developmental appropriateness, reading difficulty, and common or intended usage of books. For more information on Lexile codes, please visit (from The Lexile Framework for Reading Map by MetaMetrics)

Resources for Lesson/Unit Development


  • Lesson Planning Tool: Content and Structure - Plan with the Common Core in mind. The Lesson Planning Tool (digital version only) guides teachers through a series of prompts about the lesson content, structure, and activities to ensure the Shifts required by the CCSS are central to the lesson. ( 
  • Specific Skill Instruction Resources (
  • Learning Can’t Be Done in One Draft by Jessica Lander on 1-21-2016 for the Boston Globe - “Computer-coders, chefs, writers, are seldom satisfied with a first draft. They write reams of code or bake dozens of éclairs, continually tinkering before they are satisfied. Earnest Hemingway famously penned 47 different endings to his novel “A Farewell to Arms.” Yet students are rarely given the time and tools to turn good work into great work. Ambitious curriculums race from the Romans to the Romanovs, from genetics to global warming, in a flurry of assignments. Tests often emphasize breadth over depth. Students aim to complete assignments rather than master craftsmanship…” ( 
  • Learning Design Collaborative Mini Task Collection - This extensive listing of ELA/Literacy classroom activities and tasks provides handouts and source material specific to each task for successful implementation in the classroom. (   
  • Using Primary Sources - Discover quick and easy ways to begin using primary sources in your classroom, with teachers' guides, information on citing sources and copyright. (Library of Congress) 
  • Learning Design Collaborative with Facing History: Mini Task Collection - This extensive listing of history/ social studies classroom activities and tasks provides handouts and source material specific to each task for successful implementation in the classroom. (
  • Gold Standard Project Based Learning (PBL): Align to StandardsThisblog by John Larmer, posted on January 19,2016, is one example of the short, informative blogs that can be found on this website.  Other related titles in an extensive Archive collection include: G0ld Standard PBL: Project Based Teaching Practices, April 21, 2015 and Gold Standard PBL: Scaffold Student Learning, January 29, 2016 
  • Authentic Products Aligned to Common Core Writing Standards - This document focuses specifically on the writing component of final products.  Ideally, these products are created for an authentic audience, one beyond the classroom and the teacher.  (Expeditionary Learning, Plaut and Passchier, January 2015)
  • In Common: Effective Writing for All StudentsThis resource by The Vermont Writing Collaborative with Student Achievement Partners and CCSSO provides a range of examples of Common-Core aligned student work to demonstrate how a student’s writing skills can progress as they gain fluency across the three major types of Common Core writing: argument/opinion writing, informative/explanatory writing, and narrative writing. Four professional development activities to help build understanding of CCSS grade-level expectations for writing are also included.
  • Write Along – This collection of interactive video lessons from LearnZillion provides students guidance on how to improve their writing. Each video builds a targeted skill by modeling the process of revising or editing a flawed piece of writing while students keep up on a practice sheet. At the end, a formative assessment allows students to apply the skill to a new draft.   
  • Text Set Project: Building Knowledge and Vocabulary - This professional development module from Student Achievement Partners focuses on the Text Set Project: Designing and Integrating Expert Packs. The training is for teachers, those who support teachers, librarians, and media specialists to build understanding and experience with Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned instruction and materials. Within the module, there are materials, activities and discussions to enable participants to begin creating and using Expert Packs to support students in building knowledge, vocabulary and the capacity to read independently. (
  • Newsela’s Text Sets ToolkitThis Learning & Support feature contains various resources to help educators to understand what text sets are, how to create their own text sets, how to edit them, how to use text sets in their classrooms…and more. (  
  • Newsela’s Text SetsThere are several categories: Featured Text Sets, Spanish Text Sets, Text Sets for both literature and Social Studies, and News from Around the World.
  • Newsela’s SPANISH articles These articles are available on a wide variety of topics and reading levels, in both Spanish and English.(
  • CommonLit—This website offers teachers a free collection organized by theme and Lexile level of news articles, poems, short stories, historical documents, complex nonfiction texts (including paired texts), related multimedia (videos, audio, and interactive websites, teacher guides, parent guides, text-dependent questions, and discussion questions. A new text view allows students to interact with the text on laptops and other one-to-one devices.( 
  • Research Packs/Expert Packs: Building Knowledge and Vocabulary - This website provides targeted grade level text sets on various topics. Materials include graphic organizers and writing scaffolds to support students in acquiring, organizing, and using their new vocabulary and knowledge. A sampling of titles includes, “A History of Toys”, “How Movies and T.V. Programs Are Made”, “The Internet: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” and “Life During the Great Depression.” (
  • Catching Fire: Models of Student Work Can Spark a Chain Reaction of Deeper LearningEducation Week’s Learning Deeply 4-22-15 blog By Contributing Blogger Wilhelmina Peragine, Teaching Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Education. (
  • ELA Instructional Samplers: These ELA Common Core Samplers were written by Delaware teachers and specialists and are designed to assist educators in incorporating the three “big” shifts into their instruction and to provide a model for assessments that can inform instruction.  The samplers include grade-appropriate complex texts, academic vocabulary, and text dependent questions. (Delaware Department of Education)
  • Expeditionary Learning Appendix: Protocols and Resources for ELA CCSS Curriculum, Grades 3-8, including on-going assessment strategies to check for understanding and strategies for building academic vocabulary.
  • Academic Word Finder - will help you identify which words to focus on with your students to help them become better readers. Copy and paste any text into the tool, select your grade, and the tool will generate a list of academic vocabulary words along with definitions and sample sentences. You can use the Academic Word Finder to guide instruction or develop a classroom handout or quiz. (
  • Text-Dependent Question Resources - provides tools to help write and evaluate text-dependent questions, as well as a link to lesson materials with examples of text-dependent questions (  
  • Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package (for Grades 3-5)This guide provides information about how to reinforce foundational reading and language standards. It includes suggestions for additional work with complex text, word study, fluency, grammar, and independent reading. Sample schedules for supplemental literacy instruction are also included.  Once you get to the linked site, you will need to scroll down to this resource.  ( 
  • ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages, as well as paired text sets. The free ReadWorks materials are aligned to the Common Core standards. Grades K-12 (       
  • Student Discovery Sets - The new Library of Congress Student Discovery Sets brings together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Interactive tools let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis. Full teaching resources are available for each set. (Library of Congress/iBooks)  
  • Tween Tribune – This news website by the Smithsonian provides daily news articles for students. Articles are selected by professional journalists working in collaboration with teachers and students. As a Smithsonian resource, it has a plethora of science and history focused articles. There are also articles in Spanish, different lexile levels, technology, a junior version for grades K-4 and more. (  
  • Fluency Chart, Grades 1-8 – The Hasbrouck-Tindal table shows the oral reading fluency rates of students in grades 1 through 8, as determined by data collected by Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal. Teachers can use this table to draw conclusions and make decisions about the oral reading fluency of their students.  (
  • Fluency Packet for the Grade 2-3 Band – This 82-page document has 40 passages to help Grades 2-3 students build fluency. Comprehension questions and key vocabulary are also included. ( 
  • Fluency Packet for the Grade 4-5 Band – This 89-page document has 40 passages to help Grades 4-5 students build fluency. Comprehension questions and key vocabulary are also included. (
  • Fluency Packet for the Grade 6-8 Band – This 90-page document has 41 passages to help Grades 6-8 students build fluency. Comprehension questions and key vocabulary are also included. (
  • Fluency Packet for the Grade 9-10 Band – This 87-page document has 40 passages to help Grades 9-10 students build fluency. Comprehension questions are also included. ( 
  • Exceptional Expressions for Everyday Events—a series of flexible vocabulary development lessons Each activity can be used for a few minutes a day over the course of a week. This book is made available under a Creative Commons license and is completely free to download and use. ( 
  • Generative Vocabulary Instruction article by Elfrieda H. Hiebert ( 
  • Unique Words Require Unique Instruction – Teaching Words in Stories and Informational Books by Elfrieda H. Hiebert ( 
  • TextProject Answers Frequently Asked Research Questions: Core Vocabulary ( 


  • Lesson Planning Tool for Math – This planning tool is designed to help educators create a Common Core-aligned math lesson. Module 1 guides curriculum planning through some of the most critical questions to consider when setting up a lesson that reflects the Common Core Shifts. For example, if a math educator is wondering, if the lesson fits into a coherent progression of math instruction with clearly articulated learning goals and formative assessments, each prompt includes an “Examples and Support” section with helpful definitions, guidance, free tools, and resources. (
  • Numberless Word Problems – “Help Kids Understand Math Problems: Take Away The Numbers and the Question!” provides a detailed scaffolded approach to presenting word problems that gets students thinking before they ever have numbers or a question to act on. This differentiated instructional strategy starts off in a nonthreatening way – with no numbers – and lets students slow down, notice and wonder, grapple with the relationships in problems, and plan a solution path before they ever have to solve anything.(  
  • Connecting Math to Real-World Tasks - This blog by Lily Jones (on Tchers’ Voice on May 20, 2016) discusses a new video series. Included is a three-phase lesson structure (adapted from Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics) that helps teachers make sure they are covering—and then internalizing—the parts of an effective and engaging real-world math lesson. (
  • Math Vocabulary: Math Vocabulary Cards - Based on the work of Robert J. Marzano, Ph.D., Building Academic Vocabulary, ASCD, the Math Vocabulary Cards were to designed to provide visual aids, opportunities for students to create their own “kid-friendly” definitions and drawings, and a model of graphics and definitions for a classroom’s Math Word Wall. Multiple exposures can add to students’’ knowledge through suggested activities, games, writing and discussions using grade level vocabulary terms. Dual Immersion Cards are also provided in Spanish.(granite  
  • Collaborating Around Math: Before, During, and After Lessons—This  video series showcases elementary, middle school, and high school  teams of educators coming together to plan, teach, and reflect on student learning. (Developed by Illustrative Mathematics and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium with the Teaching Channel)  
  • The Mathematics Assessment Program—materials include lessons, tasks and assessments (     
  • How to Implement A Story of Units - This resource provides details about EngageNY’s sequenced educational mathematics program for grades pre-K-5 with a strong emphasis on differentiating instruction, meaningful assessment, and data-driven instruction. ( 
  • CCSS Mathematics Tasks by Content or Practice Standard (
  • YOUCUBED: Open Math Tasks – This website provides examples of open math tasks that typically have more than one right answer with different entry points and ways of seeing the tasks. All tasks are low floor and high ceiling – they are accessible to all students, and they extend to high levels. Students learn important growth mindset messages that will help them feel confident, embrace mistakes, and challenged. Teachers can sort by “Concept”, “Grade”, “Mathematical Practice”, and “Math Topic”. (Dr JoBoaler/ Stanford University)
  • K-12 Teachers: Illustrating the Standards for Mathematical Practice—NCSM, learning modules (
  • Common Core Standards and Career Technical Education Classroom Tasks – This site showcases a process of how Career Technical Education (CTE) content can be leveraged throughout high school mathematics. (Achieve and National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education)


  • The Concord Consortium: STEM Resource Finder – This website provides links to free, open source educational activities, models (simulations), and software tools. The NGSS Pathfinder helps to identify appropriate resources for specific grade levels. (   
  • PhET Interactive Simulations - This website offers a collection of free, open source, research-based, interactive simulations related to science and mathematics. Resources are searchable by science domain, subtopics, and grade level and includes teacher developed lesson plans for most simulations. (   
  • Phenomena for NGSS - This collection of images, descriptions and explanations of phenomena has potential use in an NGSS aligned unit or lesson. Explanations of why and how to use phenomena in the classroom are provided. (   
  • Boeing and Teaching Channel Present: The Science and Innovation Series - This collection of videos shows engineering design in the classroom. Topics include: Composites (Gr. 4-5), Alternative Energy (Gr. 4-5), Mission to Mars (Gr. 4-5), Quieter Cabin (Gr. 4-6), CubeSats (Gr. 5-6), Soft Landing (5-6), Bolt Catcher (Gr. 5-6), Polymers for the Planet (Gr. 6-7), Spy Gliders (Gr. 7-8), Biosuits (Gr. 7-8). (
  • Talk Science Professional Development – This component of The Inquiry Project (TERC) is designed to increase the effectiveness of discourse in Grades 3 through 5 science classrooms. The focus is on meaning-making and strategies to support productive discussion. Video case studies are included. ( 
  • Talk Science Primer by Sarah Michaels and Cathy O’Connor - This site provides electronic access to a twenty-two page pdf explaining academically productive talk, why it is important, how to establish a culture of productive talk in the classroom and use “talk moves” to support it. ( 
  • The Inquiry Project: Seeing the World Through A Scientist’s Eyes – The Inquiry Project curriculum for Grades 3-4-5 is based on a body of research in how people learn, how they learn science, and how they understand specific science topics. The curriculum engages student in science inquiry about the nature of matter. It is NGSS aligned and implementation is supported by online workshop for teachers. ( 
  • Ready, Set, SCIENCE! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Classrooms - by the National Research Council, 2007 offers free electronic access to a book that summarizes research on learning and explains types of instructional experiences that help K-8 students learn science with understanding. It also informs NGSS 3-dimensional approaches. ( 
  • A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas – by the National Research Council, 2012 offers free electronic access to the NRC Report upon which the NGSS were based. It is recommended reading for teachers trying to understand NGSS. ( 

Toolkits and Materials

  • The Five Tools and Processes for Translating the NGSS – The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) challenge teachers to think deeply about learning and teaching with the goal of developing a clear vision of science education that is coherent, focused, and rigorous. These tools are designed to help professional development leaders work with teachers on curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  (American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with BSCS and the K-12 Alliance at WestEd.)  
  • Tools for Ambitious Science Teaching - This website offers strategies and tools for designing learning experiences that engage all students in meaningful forms of science learning. Materials support NGSS instructional strategies. (  
  • 40 Resources and Tools for Deeper Learning: Resources include a video series with supporting materials including rubrics, lesson plans, research, and strategy documents. (
  • Appendix: Protocols and Resources for ELA CCSS Curriculum, Grades 3-8—This Appendix contains a comprehensive listing and description of the purpose and procedure of: protocols that teachers could use to check for understanding, different types of ongoing assessment strategies, and teacher strategies for building academic vocabulary (developed by Expeditionary Learning for
  • VISIBLE THINKING This website is for teachers, school leaders and administrators in K-12 schools who want to encourage the development of a culture of thinking. Many resources for classroom use are described in detail. ( 
  • See, Think, Wonder Visible Thinking Routine – This is a routine for exploring works of art/photographs and other interesting things; it encourages students to make careful observations, thoughtful interpretations, and sets the stage for inquiry. (  
  • See-Wonder-Think Strategy Sample Video Lesson demonstrates a routine that helps students to analyze and interpret art and/or photography. It was developed by Visual Thinking. (
  • WebTools4U2Use: Finding the Right Tool  (

Resource Libraries to Enhance Curricula Content Through Media/Technology

  • iCONN--This comprehensive search engine provides all students, teachers and administrators with free online access to a wealth of essential library and information resources from trustworthy sources. It is freely accessible from every school, library, and home. Access from home requires a public library card. ( 
  • Open Professionals Education Network - This website provides openly licensed education content that can be used in whole or in part. It includes links to photos, videos, audio/music, general recorded lectures & video tutorials, open textbooks, simulations and animation, as well as modular course components and complete courses. (
  • The Teaching with Primary Sources Journal - Strategies and resources for K-12 classrooms from the Library of Congress. The TPS Journal is an online publication created by the Library of Congress Educational Outreach Division in collaboration with the TPS Educational Consortium. Each issue focuses on pedagogical approaches to teaching with Library of Congress digitized primary sources in K-12 classrooms. ( 
  • The Hartford Courant Newspaper in Education Program is an online interactive classroom resource to help teachers connect students to the news. Many of the resources list Common Core Standards. Programs have been specifically designed to address the needs of Connecticut students in social studies, geography, science, math, and language arts. Resource pages are written by educators, museums, nature centers and other professional organizations. Current offerings include: Cartoons for the Classroom, Front Page Talking Points, Geography in the News, Green Room, News Video, Pulse of the Planet, This Week in History, Use the News and Words in the News. (
  • The Washington Post Newspaper in Education Program—allows all teachers to access topical NIE Curriculum Guides on a variety of topics in all subject areas. Common Core Standards aligned to the suggested activities are listed at the end of the most recent curriculum guides. ( 
  • CK-12—provides open-source content and technology tools to help math and science teachers provide learning opportunities for multiple student learning styles (
  • Video Research Tools (Grades 3-5)—provides  an overview of Common Core research expectations for students and a guide of how to use Google Docs Templates to help organize the process. (

Video Libraries

  • AMERICA ACHIEVES COMMON CORE website helps teachers to implement the Common Core by showing videos of real classrooms and teachers demonstrating key shifts of the Common Core. The site also has downloadable lesson plans and worksheets, examples of student work, as well as links to videos of teachers analyzing their own lessons and progress in implementing Common Core. (
  • UPDATED Teaching Channel CCSS Video Library offers useful supports for implementing the Common Core State Standards. The site includes 256 videos that are useful for communications opportunities or professional learning and also includes many lesson plans for teachers that include videos of the CCSS instructional shifts in action. (  
  • Khan Academy provides an extensive library of content for K-12, math, science such as biology, chemistry and physics, the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Students can practice at their own pace and make use of interactive challenges, and videos from any computer with access to the web. (