Welcome to The Literacy Cookbook

Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction

Curriculum Resources & Links
Planning or revising curriculum?

  1.  Go to Templates for Lessons & Units to see sample curriculum overviews and unit plans and download the necessary templates.  See Recommended Reading for tips on finding appropriate texts for your students (This link should help, too).  See also these TLC Blog posts on text selection.

  2.  To ensure that your curriculum is aligned to your state's standards, check out the Standards page!!!

  3.  Don't forget about Bloom's Taxonomy to ensure that your lessons and units are RIGOROUS.

  4.  If you're not already familiar with backwards design, check out the Recommended Reading below.


Wiggins, Grant, and McTighe, Jay.  Understanding by Design.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2005 (2nd ed.).





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For NJ test-prep links, go to Test Prep Resources & Links.

Achievement First:
Achievement First, a network of high-performing charter schools, has developed a pool of best-practices resources.  VERY handy! (Thanks to Justin Testerman of TN Charter School Incubator for this lead!).  I particularly dig their Interactive HS Writing Rubric!

This Website features hundreds of lessons, now with an entire section devoted to the Common Core Standards.

Byliner Spotlights:
"Editor-curated collections of nonfiction stories from the Byliner archives.  Some timeless.  Some timely.  All guaranteed great reads."

The CNN San Francisco bureau and Literacyworks (Western/Pacific LINCS) have partnered to develop an online adult literacy site that benefits all learners and instructors. This site offers Web-delivered instruction using current and past CNN San Francisco bureau and CBS 5 news stories. Each story module includes the full text of each story and interactive activities to test comprehension. The learner can choose to read the text, listen to the text, or view the broadcast through streaming video.  Check out the STORY ARCHIVESa vast array of news stories, including abridged versions of the articles, outlines, vocabulary, and other supporting materials!  NOTE: The content is appropriate for students as well as adults who wish to strengthen their reading comprehension skills.  If you're a teacher looking for more nonfiction texts for your students, this is a GREAT RESOURCE!  PLUS: The Website supports inquiry and additional research by referring to other resources relating to the stories presented!

THE COMMON CORE CONVERSATION provides links to DOZENS of other Websites dealing with the Common Core.

Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project: 
Common Core's Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts translate the new Common Core State Standards for K-12 into unit maps that teachers can use to plan their year, craft their own more detailed curriculum, and create lesson plans.  They were written by teachers for teachers and are available for $20-60.  Flexible and adaptable, they address every standard in the CCSS.  Any teacher, school, or district that chooses to follow these Common Core maps can be confident of adhering to the standards!

Commonlit.org is "a collection of poems, short stories, news articles, historical documents, and literature for classrooms."  Its free resources are organized by theme, essential questions, and Lexile levels.


C-SPAN includes a plethora of resources--esp. video clips--for teachers designing Research Simulation Tasks and DBQs.  See my TLC Blog post about C-SPAN.

More than 3,000 primary sources selected from the National Archives, plus activities: a phenomenal resource for history teachers!  (Thanks to Brent Maddin of Relay College of Education for this lead!)

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence: Teaching and Learning Resources from Federal Agencies

"the original and largest literature study guide search engine on the web. We have meticulously scoured the web to track down all of the free book notes, study guides, book summaries, chapter summaries, and analyses available for thousands of books, plays, and poems. Our team has indexed resources from over 23 study guide providers, including SparkNotes, Cliff’s Notes, BookRags, Shmoop, Pink Monkey, WikiSummaries and many more." (Thanks to Carole Fegan for this lead!)

This Website contains links to many other helpful history-related sites.  (Thanks to Kaity Korda of Academy Charter HS for this lead!)

Khan Academy:
A great FREE resource.  They proclaim: "With over 3,300 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practicewe're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace."

The Learning Network:
This blog, "Teaching and Learning with the New York Times," bases lesson plans on articles.  
This post offers 12 ways to use this blog effectively.

This FREE Website, designed for use by teachers and students, contains more than 2,000 video lessons on math and ELA, aligned with the Common Core Standards for grades 3-12.

Match Fishtank:
This FREE Website provides access to the Pre-K to 12 curriculum used at Match Charter School (a high-performing network in Boston).  PS, it includes SS/Sci, ELA, and Math units, lessons, etc.

Newsela is free and presents articles (and quizzes) on a range of topics (War and Peace - Science - Kids - Money - Law - Health    - Arts - Sports).  You can filter your search by grade level, reading standard, and whether the Newsela folks have designed a quiz for the article.  Even better, the system enables you to convert the articles INSTANTLY into higher or lower Lexiles so you can use them with any grade from 3-12.

Open Court Resources: 
If you use the Open Court textbook series, you will want to check out this link.

PARCC is "a 23-state consortium working together to develop next-generation K-12 assessments in English and math."  As you plan curriculum, it's of course important to consider how it will be assessed in this high-stakes standardized test.

PBS Learning Media:
PBS LearningMedia provides "access to 100k+ standards-aligned digital resources, productivity tools that can help you integrate content into your instruction, and professional development opportunities that will strengthen your teaching skills."

The non-profit ReadWorks is committed to solving the nation’s reading comprehension crisis by giving teachers the research-proven tools and support they need to improve the academic achievement of their students.  ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online, for free, to be shared broadly.  The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the standards of all 50 states. Most importantly, ReadWorks is faithful to the most effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension.

Rewordify.com is powerful, free, online software that improves reading, learning, and teaching. This site can:

  • Intelligently simplify difficult English, for faster comprehension (IN OTHER WORDS, it paraphrases for you!)
  • Effectively teach words, for building a better vocabulary
  • Help teachers save time and produce engaging lessons
  • Help improve learning outcomes

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
"The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness. Smarter Balanced is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the 2014-15 school year."

Smithsonian Learning Lab
"Discover more than a million resources, create personal collections and educational experiences, and share your work."

The on-line equivalent of CliffsNotes, this Website provides summaries, questions, and quizzes on many commonly-taught books.

Success Academy Education Institute:
This FREE Website provides access to great resources from the high-performing Success Academy Charter School Network (in NYC), including curriculum materials for K-8 literacy, video tours, and more.

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
This Website features an array of helpful literacy resources, including Frequently Used Booklists.

Teachers' Domain:

Teachers' Domain is a free digital media service for educational use from public broadcasting and its partners. You’ll find thousands of media resources, support materials, and tools for classroom lessons, individualized learning programs, and teacher professional learning communities. (Thanks to Shawn Vizenfelder of Paul Robeson CSH for this lead!)

ThinkCERCA.com is a “CCSS-aligned literacy program with tools and content teachers need to help students learn to read closely, think critically, and develop powerful arguments.”  It provides grade-leveled informational texts with PARCC-aligned questions and includes tools to produce reading and writing lessons.  The site promises to “help students build college and career readiness skills with engaging real-world ELA, Science, and Social Science topics for grades 3-12.”  This is a great resource for quick practice on Reading Informational Text Standards!

Time for Kids:
Time magazine has developed an on-line resource to support K-6 literacy instruction.  It includes many helpful items, such as articles, questions, quizzes, graphic organizers, and mini-lessons.

Write Source: 
Write Source is a group of teachers and writers who develop materials for students and instructors from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  The site includes writing topics, student writing models, and information on how to judge sources.



K Language Arts Literacy Effective Curriculum Practices Using Common Core Standards


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