Where do I begin?
Your Common Core State Standards (CCSS) document—get to know the standards for your target age group. Note that the standards range from basic understanding to deep analysis (purposely reflecting Bloom's Taxonomy). Pick 5-8 standards that you think you can cover in your curriculum guide - you don't need to touch on ALL the standards as students have the entire year to meet their grade-level CCSS.
Figure out what sections to include in your curriculum guide. As a teacher, here's what is most useful:
|Click on pic to see a CCSS Curriculum Guide|
- a Prior Knowledge section with discussion or writing prompts that students complete BEFORE they begin reading. A good prompt relates students' prior experiences to themes in the book, and gets them excited and motivated to read. For Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, a poetry anthology, we have students find examples of poetry in commercials, songs, greeting cards, and nursery rhymes so they realize poetry is all around them!
- a Vocabulary section that includes a list, with definitions, of grade-level vocabulary students will encounter in the novel. In addition, it is really helpful to have a handout where students decipher new words in context (using phrases from the novel). Here's an example from a "Context Clue" handout for Losing It that teachers are loving: “You have to drink when you run, Bennett. No wonder your head hurts! Most headaches are caused by dehydration, you know.” Dehydration might mean . . .
- Chapter Questions that help students process important themes, while hitting key Common Core Standards. A good set of questions spiral from basic understanding to analysis, and vary in what they ask the student to do. For instance, students might draw a response, complete a graphic organizer, or write a mini-dialogue from the perspective of a character. Here is a sample prompt for Laurie Halse Anderson’s CHAINS:
Create simple sketches for Elihu Lockton, Curzon, and Isabel. Add a large speech bubble to each character. Write the words, “The real meaning of liberty is . . .” at the top of each speech bubble. Then, do the following:
· Finish the opening sentence from the perspective of the character.
· Support your claim with examples or evidence from the text.
· Provide a concluding statement that summarizes your position.
- a Pulling It All Together section where students take what they've learned from your book and do something with it. It can be a writing assignment, a project, a debate etc. Given the push for informational text in the CCSS, this is an ideal place to include some nonfiction reading to supplement your book. For Losing It, we researched and wrote our own text about bullying and then guided students through a debate about what should be done with bullies in schools.
It takes some time to create a good curriculum guide, but it's well worth it if you want teachers to be able to simply pick up your book and teach it! Books that are chosen by teachers for their classrooms have longevity, as well, since teachers tend to use them year after year.
Nicole and Erin, both teachers and curriculum developers, can help! You can contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or would like us to create a curriculum guide for your book.