Connecticut Core Standards

Classroom Resources for Lesson/Unit Development

Common Core Planning and Practice

  • 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.(  
  • Academic Discussion CollectionInstructional supports for Academic Discussion and Accountable Talk including strategies, tools, handouts, assessments, rubrics, conferring supports and tools for setting up independent reading routines and systems. (  
  • What I Use in My Classroom- This comprehensive listing of tools and resources includes teachers’ reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of each tool as well as how to use it effectively within various settings. All resources are free to access and use and align to college- and career-ready standards. (Created by educators in Student Achievement Partners’ Core Advocate Network cited on
  • School Library Journal’s Best of 2016Books, Apps, and more. From books for kids, tweens, teens, and young adults to adult books for teens, graphic novels, audiobooks, DVDs, apps, music, and tech. (School Library Journal) 
  • Why Teachers & School Librarians Should Unite!This blog by Rachel Grover describes how librarians can work as instructional partners to teachers across disciplines to extend and enhance middle school curriculum, using examples from her practice. (  
  • The Word-Conscious Classroom – Building the Vocabulary Readers and Writers Need by Judith A. Scott, Bonnie J. Skobel, and Jan Wells (Reading Essentials Reprint Series, December 2016, Text Project, Inc.) This is a link to download the complete book. 
  • Designing Classroom Libraries that Build Knowledge, Vocabulary, and Engagement - This article, by Carey Swanson, explores the benefits of topic-based independent reading on student motivation. Details to help teachers create topic-based libraries and the resulting benefits of the Book Basket Project are included. (
  • Create a Classroom of Writers: Planning for Argument Writinga blog on 11/22/16 by Joey Hawkins from the Vermont Writing Collaborative posted on the Achieve the Core website that explains the purpose of teaching students to write sound arguments and what effective argument planning and instruction look like. (  
  • LDC Core Tools: 2016-2017 Student Work Rubrics - The new LDC student work rubrics, created by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), allow teachers to quickly and easily create rubrics that are specifically aligned to the exact content and standards in the tasks they are building for their students. This is an especially useful tool when developing curriculum using the UBD model. Select "Student Work Rubrics." View the video listed below for additional information to get started. (core   
  • LDC CoreTools: 2016-17 Student Work Rubrics Introductory Video
  • The Wild West of Open Literacy Resource: 3. Quality and Reflection Matter, a blog (by Sarah Tierney and Tracey Waters, September 22, 2016) This is the third of 3 blogs—links to previous two blogs are included—that together describe how to identify and evaluate high-quality instructional materials, how to strategically adjust them based on students’ needs, and then to look closely at a case study of two teachers’ approach to using the open-source materials offered by the Vermont Writing Collaborative as they reflect. (  
  • Lesson Planning Tool: Evaluating for Qualitative Text Complexity - This module is designed to help educators analyze the structure, meaning, language features and knowledge demands of a text to determine if it's sufficiently complex for students. Performing a qualitative text complexity analysis is intended to help identify elements of a text that may require scaffolds. ( 
  • Introduction to Depth of Knowledge Collection - Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provides a vocabulary and a frame of reference when thinking about students and how they engage with the content. DOK offers a common language to understand "rigor," or cognitive demand, in assessments, as well as curricular units, lessons, and tasks. Webb developed four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity and provide educators a lens on creating more cognitively engaging and challenging tasks. In this 50-minute activity, participants will gain a better understanding of what constitutes rigorous questions by exploring Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) levels and Karin Hess' Cognitive Rigor Matrix, as well as practice using the Cognitive Rigor Matrix to evaluate and adjust the rigor of particular questions. (  
  • Engaging Students through the Depth of Knowledge Professional Learning Activity Participants in this two-part professional activity will: identify levels of rigor as defined in the Depth of Knowledge framework; evaluate and revise the rigor of questions using the Cognitive Rigor Matrix; evaluate and adjust the rigor of activities and assignments using the Cognitive Rigor Matrix. Scroll down in order to view and/or download individual resources. (  
  • Meeting Students Needs Through Scaffolding – This document provides suggestions for scaffolding instruction to help students successfully read texts that may be difficult for them. (Expeditionary Learning for 
  • 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 (  
  • Reading Partners’ Comprehension Guides for TextProject Texts (K-5)Reading Partners, a national literacy nonprofit that helps empower struggling readers, has given TextProject permission to share the guides with classroom teachers. Each guides includes directions that introduces the skill and an example for students and teachers to practice the skill. Use the guides as an introduction to learn a particular comprehension skill, or as a means to guide discussion about a text. Guides: Explaining Scientific Concepts, Main Topic in Informational Texts, Making Inferences (Informational Texts), Explaining Information, Cause and Effect (Historical Events), Cause and Effect. ( and
  • 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. (
  • Speaking and Listening-These free resources that focus on speaking and listening include: Accountable Talk Card Templates; the Accountable Talk Source Book from Resnick; Accountable Talk Stems; Bookmarks for K-5 Speaking and Listening; ELA Speaking and Listening Progression; and a free chapter excerpt from Procedures for Classroom Talk by Fisher, Frey & Rothenberg with the research and instructional moves teachers can begin using immediately. (
  • Toolkit for TutoringUsing TextProject’s BeginningReads with Young Readers - ToolKit for Tutoring is a guide for tutors and teachers working with young readers to develop literacy skills. This free guide includes activities that focus on vocabulary development, word study, and writing skills. In the guide, there is a link to the BeginningReads free series of resources.(
  • Literacy in the Digital Age: Five Sites with High Quality Informational Textby Steve Figurelli and Natalie Franzi, August 19, 2015 posted on Tcher’s Voice, a blog series from Teaching Channel with Student Achievement Partners about digital literacy tools and their effective use by educators (
  • EL Education offers a vast array of free resources including videos, guidance documents, protocols and more to support teaching and learning. Resources are curated by theme, type or topic.  
  • Project-Based Instruction, A Great Match for Informational Texts (by Nell K. Duke, American Educator, Fall 2016) The complete article can be read online and/or downloaded (  
  • Gold Standard Project Based Learning (PBL): Align to Standards – This blog 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: Gold Standard PBL: Project Based Teaching Practices, April 21, 2015 and Gold Standard PBL: Scaffold Student LearningJanuary 29, 2016. (    
  • Anthology Alignment Project - The Anthology Alignment Project, developed by teachers, offers replacement lessons for anthologies developed prior to the Common Core State Standards. These lessons have been developed with an emphasis on key aspects of the Common Core, including quality sequenced text-dependent questions, improved integrated writing tasks, and a focus on academic vocabulary. (
  • ELA Guidebooks 2.0 is an English language arts curriculum for whole-class instruction developed by teachers in Louisiana. Made by teachers for teachers, the guidebook units ensure all students can read, understand, and express their understanding of complex, grade-level texts. (
  •  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, text dependent questions with sample exemplar responses, Common Core alignment for each question to a specific standard, and its rationale. (Delaware Department of Education)

Building Fluency and Comprehension

  • Fluency Practice Resources - These resources from Achieve the Core are designed to help you understand what fluency is and how you can help your students become fluent readers. (
    • Reading Fluency blog series - Introduces the elements of reading fluency, strategies to build fluent readers, and how to assess fluency to determine interventions. 
    • Fluency Packets - A collection of short reading passages to help students in grades 2-12 practice reading fluency. 
  • 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 BandThis 87-page document has 40 passages to help Grades 9-10 students build fluency. Comprehension questions are also included. ( 

Classroom Activities and Tasks

  • Learning Design Collaborative Mini Task Collection - This extensive listing of classroom activities and tasks provides handouts and source material specific to each task for successful implementation in the classroom. ( 
  • Ways to Jot While Reading: Classroom Strategies – a few charts that outline possible things to jot about while reading different types of text. (  
    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. ( 
  • GRAMMAR: Kahn Academy’s newest subject -The free videos, practice exercises, and assessments help students (and teachers) learn Standard American English at their own pace. Exercises include punctuation, parts of speech, style and usage, and conventions.(  
  • SweetSearch is a search engine designed for students that lists websites reviewed by a team of educators. It also provides social media tools that enable users to send their results to others. (
  • BBC Learning School Radio – Audio Resources for Primary School. Teacher notes are available to support most programs. Categories include: Podcasts, Early Learning, English, History, Music, Dance, Mathematics, Drama, Geography.  (  
  • Quill just launched a free writing diagnostic tool that covers eight areas of sentence structure, including fragments, run-on sentences, and complex sentences. It assesses students and then builds a personalized learning plan for each student that provides up to 40 activities. (    
  • WordSift - This online tool from Stanford University generates a word cloud, showing selected words in context and related images. The word cloud can be used as a pre-reading tool to identify keywords that may need to be part of the pre-reading instruction. (
  • Wordle – This website turns text into word clouds—words or phrases that are repeated show up larger in the completed word cloud. The word cloud can be randomized to change colors and patterns. (
  • Common Core Questions for Discussing Artworks: Art Inquiry + Common Core Anchor Standards in Reading – This website offers sample questions—each aligned with a Common Core Reading Anchor Standard—that can be used with students to analyze and interpret works of art. Many of these questions came from the modeling of museum-teaching practice that took place in American Art at the Core of Learning, a learning community for museum educators in Chicago organized and sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art. These questions—many long used by museum educators—support the practice of reading closely and thinking analytically that is specifically called for in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The standards also call for teaching with diverse text types, including visuals, and for reading across texts. This resource is intended to help teachers incorporate American art in their teaching repertoire in ways that address the standards. (
  • Document Analysis Worksheets - Use these worksheets — for photos, written documents, artifacts, posters, maps, cartoons, videos, and sound recordings — to teach your students the process of document analysis. A teaching protocol, developed by the National Archives, is included with the materials. (
  •  Video: Reading a Painting - Teaching with art can help educators address the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. In this video, Sarah Alvarez, Director of Teacher Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, demonstrates how teachers can facilitate close reading of art in the classroom using techniques developed in museums to make connections to the CCSS-ELA. This video is part of a series about teaching with artworks. (
  • How Media Appeals to Our Emotions – Close Reading the Media’s Emotional AppealsThis blog by Frank Baker on 2-19-2017 discusses the role emotion plays in media messages, and how educators can help students to recognize the powerful force of media literacy. It includes possible activities that are appealing to middle school students. (  
  • VISIBLE THINKINGThis 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 RoutineThis 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. ( 
  • Beginning Reads -This  program from supports teachers, parents, and tutors in bringing children into reading. The goal of Beginning Reads is to connect student’s oral language knowledge with written language. (
  • Talking Points for Kids -This prototype program intended for 4th-6th grade students aims to increase discussion amongst students on topics that relate to them. The texts were written so that they would support students in increasing their capacity with the meanings and recognition of core vocabulary. Topics with texts include: School Time, Exercise in School, Music in Schools, Homework, Living in Zoos, Heavy Backpacks, Ban on Plastic Bags, Ban on Junk Food in Schools, Bringing Toys to School, and Television Time.  (
  • Common Core Writing Prompts and Strategies: a Facing History and Ourselves Publication to help students become stronger analytical thinkers and writers. The materials include the following: an overview of current research about argumentative writing that was used to inform this work, specific writing prompts, thinking/writing strategies appropriate for both history and language arts classrooms, explicit alignment with the expectations of the Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies. (
  • “Analyze a Constructed Response Question” a direct instruction video lesson that helps elementary students understand how to determine what a multi-task writing prompt wants them to do. (   
  • Teaching Mockingbird - This guide created by Facing History presents educators with materials to interweave the historical context of Depression-era rural Southern life to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. A free PDF download of the instructor’s manual that ties the curricula activities to the Common Core State Standards is provided. (  

Models of Student Work