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Samantha Beattie's picture
Samantha Beattie has taught first grade for eight years and is currently teaching a multi-age classroom of first and second-graders. She graduated Nova Southeastern University with a master’s degree...
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The Common Core Lesson Book

The Common Core Lesson Book K-5 by Gretchen Owocki arrived on my doorstep late yesterday evening. Luckily for me, we had early release today at school. I was able to spend some time reading through the first section of the book. Let me quickly note, I have no relationship to the publisher or authors of this book. My opinions, are just that, mine. I am only sharing what I think about this as a resource for planning and instruction of the Common Core Standards.

I have to say, when I ordered the book last week, I was hoping for text specific lessons. If that is your goal, this is not the book for you. But I think if you are a teacher who, like me, is looking to further educate yourself on the CCSS and how lessons should be presented, this book is the book for you. The more I read, the more I am sure this may just be my CCSS bible for lesson creation and instruction.

The Lesson Book provides a detailed view of instruction in the CCSS. It provides a guide to create a lesson to teach with any text. With the help of this book, I feel prepared to plan lesson that will get to the heart of the Common Core Standards.

It is divided into three categories. (It does not cover all of the CCSS.) The categories are Reading for Literature, Reading Informational Text, and Foundation Skills for Reading. Each category has anchor standards and specific grade-level concepts. It then includes a comprehensive and detailed set of instructional strategies. The strategies are broken into demonstration/modeling, collaborative engagement, and independent application; better known as I do, we do, and you do.

The Lesson Book fully supports differentiated instruction in the CCSS. The grade range of K-5 is presented in each area to support the differentiation you may need for your students. The layout makes it very easy to plan for all of your students needs within one lesson. This book is a framework for enhancing the curriculum already in place within your classroom. It is not a stand-alone curriculum.

Within the demonstration phase, it provides prompts to support teacher modeling and discussion. I am really impressed with this part of the guide. It allowed me to see and think differently about my modeling and discussion questions of the text. I now have a clear idea of where my students are and where they need to be at the end of the year with the CCSS.

Strategies and lessons to intensify the instruction are included in the guide. They have taken the guess work out of where do I go next with my students. These very specific intensified instruction strategies can be used again and again. While reading through the Reading for Literature category, I was reminded of something I once heard at a professional development workshop. (I wish I could remember who and where to credit the presenter.) She said to think of a ballet studio or a football field. They are always the same; changes are subtle. She said this is the way classrooms and instruction should be. These studios or areas of practice and learning have a routine and structure with little change. This thought remained in my head while I was reading, and I now understand the foundation the CCSS are laying for our students education.

The Lesson Book has a very thorough list of activities students can complete upon the completion of the demonstration lesson. These activities are described in such a way that I was able to see how I need to increase the thinking skills of my students when they are working independently. All the activities include use of simple resources, which can already be found in the typical primary classroom. There are no additional products to purchase to support the lessons and activities. (Many positive points for this aspect of the guide!) Graphic organizers of various forms are also provided.

The activity descriptions provide the best mental image I have seen so far as to what the Common Core Standard should look like in work product. Reading through the many activities caused me to reflect on my prior teaching practices. I now realize just how much and how fast the mile high and inch deep standards were hindering, not helping our students.

Overall, I think I have just fallen in-love. Today, I have a clear view of what this year should like look for my students and myself as we begin the CCSS journey. If you are a teacher who loves to create lessons, but like me, did not know how to turn my already effective lessons into CCSS material, this book will help you do just that.