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Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action



Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action

Sarah Tantillo

ISBN: 978-1-118-83905-8 July 2014 Jossey-Bass 288 Pages

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Tools and Insights for Meeting and Exceeding the Common Core Standards

Literacy and the Common Core offers K–12 teachers clear guidance on how to design units, lessons, and objectives to meet the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts; it’s filled with practical strategies that teachers can use immediately to target key standards; and it describes how to analyze the standards to support instructional planning and curriculum development.

This book aims to make life a little easier for everyone—teachers, school leaders, parents, and students—as we all strive to prepare students for college and the careers they most desire. The book includes practical tools, templates, and rubrics ready to be downloaded and customized to meet your needs. Additional resources may be found on the companion site,

Here are just a few of the essential topics addressed:

  • Which standards to start with and how to tackle them
  • How to bridge the gap when students are not on grade level
  • How to engage and support parents
  • How to teach students to write effectively
  • How to translate the standards for actual use

Take the recipes in this book, make them your own, and enjoy your new “Common Core Master Chef” status!

CD Contents ix

Acknowledgments xiii

About the Author xv

Preface:Why I Felt Compelled to Write This Book xvii

Introduction: What Problems This Book Attempts to Solve, and How 1

PART ONE Basic Ingredients

ONE Strategic Planning to Strengthen Curriculum 7

Strategic Action Planning: How to Make Things Happen 7

How to Keep Track of the Standards 9

Curriculum Resources 11

Endnotes 13

TWO Schoolwide Approaches to Reading 15

What to ConsiderWhen Selecting Texts for K–12 15

Human Resources:The Varsity Reading Coach 18

Strategic Reading andWriting Class 24

Strategic Reading andWriting: Curriculum Overview Map 34

How to Get TwoThousand Students to Fall in Love with Reading 36

Endnotes 41

THREE Bridging the Gap When Students Are Not on Grade Level 45

What You Need to Know about Text Complexity 46

A Strategic Approach 47

How to Engage and Support Parents 49

Low-Hanging Fruit: Classroom Discourse and Vocabulary Instruction 51

Why and How to Maximize Cross-Content Connections 53

AWord to School Leaders 54

Endnotes 55

FOUR Unit Planning 57

The Big Picture 57

Annotated Curriculum Overview Map 60

Sample Curriculum Overview Map 61

Annotated Unit Plan Template 62

Sample ELA Unit Plan 65

From-Units-to-Lessons Logistics 69

Endnotes 71

FIVE Lesson Planning 73

Why Lesson Planning Habits Matter 73

Annotated Lesson Plan Template 74

How to Avoid Kidnapping Your Students: Rigorous, Purposeful, Measurable (RPM) Objectives 76

Objectives and Lesson Planning with the Metaphor of Your Choice 82

Designing Effective Do Nows 84

Using Do Nows to Strengthen the Four Key Critical Reading Skills 85

Some Truths about “I Do,We Do, You Do” 90

Exit Tickets 92

A Few Thoughts on Homework 93

Endnotes 96

PART TWO Appetizers

SIX First Bites of the Common Core 101

Which Standards ShouldWe StartWith? 101

Tasty Morsels for Staff Training 102

Outlining Your First Unit 104

Endnotes 106

SEVEN Close Reading Strategies 107

Quadrant Analysis as aWay to Boost Comprehension 108

Annotation Revisited:Why and HowWe Read 109

The Overlooked Skill of Skimming 111

What Text Dependent Really Means 114

The Most Important Skill You Could Possibly Teach 115

More Bites at Inquiry 124

Endnotes 126


EIGHT Argument versus Evidence: The Big Picture and Six Essential Steps 131

Argument versus Evidence: Step 1 133

Argument versus Evidence: Step 2 135

Argument versus Evidence: Step 3 136

Argument versus Evidence: Step 4 140

Argument versus Evidence: Step 5 142

Argument versus Evidence: Step 6 143

Endnotes 144

NINE Quote Sandwiches 147

The Recipe for Quote Sandwiches 147

Examples and Non-Examples of Quote Sandwiches 148

Drawing a Picture of “Context” 150

Endnote 151

TEN Open-Ended Response Writing 153

Common Problems and Solutions 153

What Is “RACER”? 154

A Handy Open-Ended ResponseWriting Rubric 155

Endnotes 157

ELEVEN Document-Based Questions for One and All 159

Topic-Driven Assignments versus Question-Driven Assignments 159

How andWhy to Take the Document-Based Question Approach 160

Endnote 162

TWELVE How to Translate the ELA Common Core Standards for Actual Use 163

Step 1: Trajectory Analysis 163

Step 2: Unpack Standards and Design Objectives and Activities to MeetThem 166

Step 3: Compare and Contrast Standards for Literature and Informational Text 168

Models of Unpacked Standards: K–2, Grades 3–5, Grades 6–8, and Grades 9–12 170

Endnotes 179

PART FOUR Desserts

THIRTEEN Appendix 183

Strategic Reading Time (SRT) Users’ Manual 184

Trajectory Analysis Charts for Reading Informational Text (RIT) Standards 233

Endnotes 243

Index 245

How to Use the CD 255

How to Use The Literacy CookbookWebsite 257