Connecticut Core Standards

Specific Skill Instruction - ELA

Reading Closely for Textual Details


  • CCSS for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects - Appendix C:  Samples of Student Writing
  • Writing for Understanding – LOOKING AT AND LEARNING FROM STUDENT WRITING Checklists: Student work is a powerful source of information for teachers about students’ content-and-text based writing. These K – 12 standards-based checklists for each type of writing will help teachers learn from their own students’ work. (  
  • 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.  (  
  • What is The “Painted Essay?” When we write, we are both constructing and communicating meaning about some body of knowledge or set of ideas. To be effective, a piece of writing must be a connected, coherent chunk of thought. When students are learning to write, there are several aspects of the process that may present difficulty. The Painted Essay is an effective way to teach children to write. (  
  • 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.(  
  • Grammar Guide - This guide, developed by the Louisiana Department of Education in partnership with LearnZillion, shows what students’ written language should look like at each grade level. Teachers can use it to identify gaps in written conventions and target areas for instruction during small-group or individualized instruction. In order to access this guide from the LearnZillion website, you will need to register with the site; there is no charge for access to these materials. Use this link to register.   
  • Improving Writing Skills: ELLs and the Joy of Writing by Kristina Robertson – This article discusses the important correlation between writing and language development. It also includes how to differentiate writing activities that allow for every students to be successful. (  
  • “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. (learn  
  • GLAD Sentence Patterning Charta short video from Mount Vernon Schools that could be helpful to elementary students as well as English Language Learners. ( 
  • 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. (  
  • Tcher’s Cut Video: When a Lesson Goes Wrong – Preparing to Write a Literary Analysis, Grades 9-12. Sarah Brown Wessling unpacks what happened in this video when her lesson went wrong. ( 
  • 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.  (
  • Writing a Cooperative Paragraph – In this video lesson, a Grade 2 teacher walks her students (some of whom are ELLs) through a cooperative paragraph summarizing the beginning, middle, and end of BURRO’S TORTILLAS. She also uses the exercise as an opportunity to practice their writing skills. (  
  • How I Finally Figured Out Collaborative WritingIn this blog by Amber Rain Chandler, posted 5-08-16 on the MiddleWeb - All About Middle Grades website, she shares what she has learned this year about having students work collaboratively on writing assignments—and how she graded them. (
  • 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…” (
  • Quill provides FREE learning activities that engage students in the writing process through interactive web applications teaching grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills. Teachers can select from over 150 activities built from 42 Common Core standards for students in grades 3-12. (
  • 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. ( 
  • Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively: This practice guide presents specific, actionable guidance to help students in grades 6–12 develop effective writing skills. It is geared towards administrators and teachers in all disciplines who want to help improve their students’ writing. (
  • 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. (  
  • Authentic Products Aligned to Common Core Writing StandardsThis 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)

Researching to Deepen Understanding

  • Research Packs, developed for Kindergarten - Grade 5, guide students and teachers through the process of focused research and writing to inform or explain. Each pack contains lessons that follow the Gradual Release of Responsibility by including a full class task (approximately 3 weeks), a peer supported group task (2 weeks) and for grades 3 – 5, an independent research task (approximately 2 weeks). Teachers can choose to use one, two, or three of the components. (
  • Video Playlist: Educating Digital Citizens (

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Text Complexity

A list of Lexile levels by grade

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)