Module #3: In the Classroom

Module 3 resources are intended to help fill the gaps educators might encounter as they transition to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy (CCSS for ELA/Literacy). As needs are identified and materials are developed, Maine Department of Education's ELA specialists will post information about webinars, workshops and other materials.

CCSS for ELA/Literacy Instructional Resource Evaluation Tool

This tool is designed to help educators evaluate instructional resources that support implementation of the CCSS for ELA/Literacy. The tool can be used to review instructional resources currently used in your school or classroom, or to examine tools you may be considering adding to your collection. The tool is not designed to evaluate entire instructional programs, such as a core reading program, reading intervention or a published writing curriculum, but instead provides questions to guide examination of supplemental instructional materials, such as instructional guides, lesson plans and professional texts. 

Prior to using the tool, it may be helpful to review the Publishers' Criteria for the CCSS in ELA/Literacy. These criteria were written specifically for publishers to help them better understand the foundational goals of the CCSS for ELA/Literacy, as well as the instructional shifts required by the standards. These criteria are equally helpful to educators, as they enable them to better understand the shifts and ultimately be better consumers of instructional materials. 

Text Set and Unit of Study Sites

  • Achieve the Core. Achieve the Core is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping all students and teachers see their hard work lead to greater student achievement. Their site contains numerous tools useful for close reading, text complexity, text set development and developing units of study.
  • Engage New York. is developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to support the implementation of key aspects of the New York State Board of Regents Reform Agenda. This website supports Common Core and provides a full section on choosing texts, suggestions, and links for finding rich complex texts.
  • Louisiana Believes. Louisiana Believes is built on the premise that all children can achieve high expectations for learning and that those closest to children – parents and teachers – know better than government how to help students achieve those expectations. Guidance is provided for locating texts for classroom useand, more specifically, for use with English Learner students.
  • Literacy Design Collaborative. LDC is a national community of educators providing a teacher-designed and research-proven framework, online tools, and resources for creating literacy-rich assignments and courses across content areas.
  • Read Aloud Project. ACHIEVE the Core has worked with educators across the United States to develop a bank of appropriately complex texts for reading aloud at the K-2 level that include lessons.
  • Basal Alignment Project. ACHIEVE the Core has worked with educators across the United States to develop a bank of text dependent questions that accompany common core reading program text selections. 
  • Bridges Units. The International Literacy Association has developed units of study that include text sets to build student knowledge and vocabulary. These can be accessed by ILA members.
  • Illinois State Board of Education. This site contains a bank of instructional strategies for teaching the ELA standards.
  • Writing for Understanding Sequences. The Vermont Writing Collaborative has vetted a collection of content-based reading and writing tasks aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  The lesson sequences were created by educators, are available in grades K-12 and integrate with a variety of subject areas including science, social studies and math.
  • In Common. In Common provides a range of examples of Common Core-aligned student work, drawn directly from K-12 classrooms across the country.
  • Common Ground Protocols. The Common Ground Protocols offer a set of activities to guide teams of educators in looking closely at student work. The Protocols can be used with the student samples from In Common, or with other sets or samples of student work.

Additional Resources

  • Literacy Micro-Courses Collection. The micro-courses are under construction and will be available soon. The Maine DOE developed this professional learning tool as a resource to K-5 educators. The courses are designed specifically for teachers seeking to further their knowledge of research-based, literacy-related content and to explore methods for applying that knowledge to their classroom practice.
  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) Common Core Toolkit (PDF). This national organization advocates for 21st century readiness for every student by supporting local, state and federal policies that support this approach for every school. The framework for P21 is an effort to provide a holistic approach to readiness for every student. P21 recently released the P21 Common Core Toolkit: A Guide to Aligning the Common Core State Standards with the Framework for 21st Century Skills. This toolkit includes lesson starters aligned to CCSS standards at grades four, eight and 12. 
  • Peer Edit Protocol (RTF, 72KB). A model for helping students learn how to edit a partner’s paper. Modify as necessary according to your needs. This instructional tool can also be used as formative assessment.
  • Poetry Pairing SeriesThe New York Times' Learning Network collaborates with the Poetry Foundation to feature a weekly poem alongside content from The Times that somehow echoes, extends or challenges that poem’s themes.
  • ReadWriteThink. National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association host a website with a plethora of resources for the English classroom. Find lesson plans, professional learning opportunities and more.
  • Reading Like a Writer (RTF, 45KB). A guide for helping students evaluate and annotate text. This document provides a model with notes for teachers and a student template for reading short articles and passages. It may work for any grade with appropriate modification.
  • Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High School (PDF). What comes after Reading First? Writing Next. This report includes 11 Key Elements of Writing Instruction.
  • Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading (PDF). While reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning. This study identifies three core instructional practices that have been show to be effective in improving student reading.


  • Amy Benjamin: Vocabulary at the Center. The CCSS includes significant expectations about vocabulary learning: no fewer than three of the 35 standards address vocabulary development. Research suggests that achievement in the workplace and strong content area learning require that an individual be skillful in making meaning of new words and concepts. There is certainly a connection to rapidly changing technology, which is profoundly altering the workplace. In an effort to fill the gap, the Maine DOE is pleased to present Amy Benjamin: Vocabulary at the Center. This webinar features Amy Benjamin, author of Vocabulary at the Center, offering ideas about vocabulary instruction in middle and high school.
  • CCSS for Reading, Grades 6-12. Beginning in grade six, the reading standards include Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. Understanding the reading strand involves understanding the relationship between and among the reading standards for literature, informational text and the content areas. In this presentation, Maine DOE ELA specialists explore the standards and offer suggestions for aligning curriculum and practice.
  • CCSS for Writing, Grades K-5. The writing standards are rigorous and developmentally incremental. Participants in this session will understand the learning targets and explore some instructional strategies for implementation. Transition resources are also shared.
  • CCSS Vocabulary. This presentation, for educators at grade levels 6-12, discusses the philosophy of vocabulary instruction, demonstrates some strategies and explores a few resources including the two books presented in past workshops.

Additional Modules