Curriculum Planning

Common Core ELA Resources for Middle School Educators

These resources can help middle school teachers implement Common Core State Standards in English.

November 5, 2013
Photo credit: Jose Kevo via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Many teachers this year are updating existing curriculum for the Common Core. And it’s going to be a long process for everyone. Here, I’ve collected some open resources that might help in that process, with links to lessons that can serve as building blocks for Common Core–aligned units. The emphasis this time is on English language arts in middle school.

For those looking for more information, the Foundation for Excellence in Education has produced an overview of examples, and it’s a great starting point.

Here are some open and free resources for close reading in middle school classrooms.

  • Skills Practice from the New York Times Learning Network: The New York Times Learning Network recently launched a weekly feature—Skills Practice—that gives students a chance to practice Common Core and academic skills using Times content. This particular one encourages teachers to use storyboarding to inspire close reading.
  • Reading Comprehension Activities from Here, you will find plenty of free, shareable reading comprehension activities. For middle school classrooms, there are reading passage lessons, as well as units of student aligned to fiction and nonfiction texts. The curriculum is also searchable by reading level.
  • Tools for News Analysis from Newsela: This emerging ed startup developed an easy-to-use portal for teachers. Teachers sign up for an account and assign news stories for classrooms to read. The stories are written for various grade levels, with comprehension quizzes attached.
  • Resources for Student-Centered Instruction in a Time of Common Standards: The National Council of Teachers of English hosts a bunch of valuable resources for ELA educators. With links to relevant books and lesson plans, as well as webinars for educators. There’s a lot of useful information here.

Free Common Core Resources

Some excellent hubs of Common Core–aligned lesson plans have come online recently. I’ve written about a few of these before, but I thought I’d bring them all together here. Each features lists of lesson plans and link them to the standards they address.

  • LearnZillion Lesson Plan Sets: There are more than 2,000 Common Core lesson plans on LearnZillion. The majority of standards are covered, with lessons coming soon in a few areas. In the middle grades, there are hundreds of free resources.
  • ShareMyLesson Common Core Sets: ShareMyLesson brings together Common Core–aligned lessons from all over the web. It’s a massive collection that’s easy to navigate. All lessons featured on the site are free, and they’re organized by standard. The middle grades are covered in-depth, with options for searching by grade level.
  • OER Commons Lesson Plan Database: Launched in 2007, OER Commons curates the best open-source lesson plans on the web. They’re easy to search for, and have been developed by established education groups and state departments of education. Plenty of great middle school resources here.
  • Free Resources from Achieve The Core: Created by Student Achievement Partners—a nonprofit founded by three Common Core writers—this website features plenty of resources produced in-house. These activities are arranged by standard, and there are fun, engaging activities organized by grade.

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  • Curriculum Planning
  • English Language Arts
  • 6-8 Middle School

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