1st Edition

Teaching the Common Core Literature Standards in Grades 2-5
Strategies, Mentor Texts, and Units of Study

ISBN 9781138856172
Published July 14, 2015 by Routledge
212 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

USD $35.95

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Book Description

Shifting your literature instruction to meet the Common Core can be tricky. The standards are specific about how students should analyze characters, themes, point of view, and more. In this new book, Lisa Morris makes it easy by taking you through the standards and offering tons of practical strategies, tools, and mentor texts for grades 2-5. She shows you how to combine the standards into effective units of study so that you can teach with depth rather than worry about coverage. Topics covered include:

  • Teaching questioning, inferring, and author’s purpose;
  • Guiding readers to look at themes and write summaries;
  • Showing students how to recognize structural elements of literature;
  • Teaching the craft of writing and vocabulary development; and
  • Helping students analyse characters and character development.

Throughout this highly practical book, you’ll find a variety of charts and other graphic organizers that can be easily adapted for classroom use. A list of suggested mentor texts is also available as a free eResource from our website, www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138856172.

Table of Contents

Meet the Author

Chapter One: Embracing the Language of the Standards and Creating a Curriculum

General Information About the Common Core State Standards

Key Shifts for English Language Arts and Literacy

Key Features of the Standards

Common Concerns of the Standards

Reasons I Have Embraced the Standards

An Overview of the Reading Standards for Literature

My Curriculum Crates

A Glimpse at My Notes

Explaining My Methodology

I Can Statements

It Takes a Village

Looking Beyond Your Own Grade Level

Hard Work Pays Off

Units of Study: Depth not Coverage

Content Area Reading

Resources for Teachers

Common Core Resources

Choice Boards

Closing Thoughts


Chapter Two: Questioning, Inferring, and Author’s Purpose: A Likely Trio for Comprehension

I Can Statements

Another Look at My Notes

Questioning and Inferring – Intertwining the Two

Starting from the Beginning

Quality Questioning

Breaking down the Verbiage

Generic Organizers for Responding to Reading

Descriptions with Evidence

Coding Questions


Asking Questions

Mentor Texts for Questioning

Three Ways to Ask Questions

Going Deeper Within the Study

What Is A Prediction?

Mentor Texts for Predicting

Making Predictions from the Blurb

What is an Inference?

Text-based Inferences

Layering the Instruction

Thinking Stems for Inferring

Inferring with Poetry, Pictures, and Wordless Books

Poem Examples and Inference Questions

Questions to Help Make Inferences

Inference Answer

Additional Resources for Poetry

Mentor Texts for Poetry

The Power of Pictures

Inferring with Wordless Picture Books

Inferring vs. Predicting

Predicting and Inferring Bookmarks

A Closer Look at Author’s Purpose

Keeping a Running Record

Closing Thoughts

Chapter Three: Guiding Students to Write Sensational Summaries and Recognize Themes

I Can Statements

Another Look at My Notes

The Importance of Summarizing

Why Use Summarizing in the Classroom?

What Makes a Good Summary?

Summarizing Versus Retelling

Why Use Retelling in the Classroom?

How do we Use Retelling in the Classroom?

Determining Importance

Thinking within the Text: The Backpack Analogy

Summarizing to Evaluate Comprehension

Looking Closer at Themes

Using Themes to Tie in Writing Instruction

Additional Ways to Teach Themes

Using Quotes to Tie in Themes and Messages

Thematic Conflict

Some Sample Thematic T-Charts

Excellent Resources for Incorporating a Genre Study

Keeping on Track

Choice Board

Closing Thoughts

Chapter Four: Reading with Close Comprehension Through Character Analysis and Story Elements

I Can Statements

Another Look at My Notes

Character Analysis

A Chance Meeting

Why a Unit of Study on Characters?

Mentor Texts and Author Choices

Possible Mini-Lessons for Character Analysis

Cause and Effect

Signal Words

Mentor Texts for Teaching Cause and Effect

Organizers for Documenting Cause and Effect Relationships

The Domino Effect

Choice Board

Closing Thoughts

Chapter Five: Reading Closely to Recognize the Importance of Craft and Vocabulary Development

I Can Statements

Another Look at My Notes

The Craft of Writing

Reading like a Writer

Teaching Students to Notice Craft of Language

Four Categories of Craft

Activities and Mentor Texts for Teaching Word Craft

Vivid Verbs

Strong Verbs

Mentor Texts for Teaching Strong Verbs


All About Similes



Activities and Mentor Texts for Teaching Audible Craft

Tying in Vivid Vocabulary

Graphic Organizers to Aid Vocabulary Study

Monitoring the Mood and Tone

Passage Samples

Mood Task Cards

Identifying the Author’s Tone or Mood

Connecting with Illustrations

Illustration Task Cards

Choice Board

Closing Thoughts

Chapter Six: Recognizing the Structural Elements of Prose, Poetry, and Drama

I Can Statements

Another Look at My Notes

Comparing Prose, Poetry, and Drama

A Chart to Keep Focused

Keeping Track of Reading Selections

Taking a Genre Walk

Teaching Students to be Pros at Prose



Digging Drama

Point of View

Thought Provoking Activities for Point of View

Choice Board

Closing Thoughts


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Lisa Morris is a language arts teacher at Bluewater Elementary in Niceville, Florida and an adjunct professor of education at Northwest Florida State College. She is also author of Awakening Brilliance in the Writer’s Workshop: Using Notebooks, Mentor Texts, and the Writing Process (Routledge, 2012).


"I highly recommend this book! Lisa Morris provides teachers with so many fantastic ideas and activities to use in literature instruction that aligns with the Common Core State Standards. I felt like I was right there in Morris’ classroom as she described these instructional methods. This book also includes many mentor texts that teachers can use in their classrooms and even organizes those mentor texts based on the standards with which they are aligned. Both new and veteran teachers can certainly benefit from this resource!"

--Sean Ruday, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English Education, Longwood University and author of The Common Core Grammar Toolkit books.

"As a cheerleader for teachers, Morris gives readers an instant boost in curriculum confidence. Practical in every way, this book empowers educators to make the Common Core manageable and meaningful with the classroom-tested mini lessons and effective teaching sequences. Can't wait to share with my colleagues!"

--Karina Nevers, Learning Strategist, Las Vegas, NV

"Everyone needs someone in their “corner” to guide them and to motivate them. I found this book to be educationally motivating from beginning to end. What is unique about Morris’ book is that her suggested activities can be easily adapted or modified to meet each grade level."

--Linda Biondi, MIDDLEWEB