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Designing a Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts

Designing a Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts
Meeting the Common Core With Intellectual Integrity, K–12

Foreword by Lynn Erickson

Additional resources:

November 2012 | 176 pages | Corwin

How to ensure your ELA teaching sticks

One thing we know for certain: the Common Core will become yet-another failed initiative unless our curriculum provides a clear, unambiguous picture of how to teach for understanding. The solution? A concept-based curriculum. Where can you learn how to create one? Designing a Concept-Based Curriculum in English Language Arts.

Fusing Lynn Erickson's groundbreaking curriculum model with implementation guidelines and sample units, this important new book will put you on the fast track to using concept-based curriculum in your school or district. Lanning shows you how to design a curriculum that:

  • Functions as a framework for lesson plans
  • Unites the efforts of ELA teachers district-wide
  • Addresses core standards while focusing on student understanding
  • Creates a ripple effect helping to align curriculum, assessments, and instruction

"Lois Lanning's new book is a clear, practical, insightful, game-changer for teachers who want to move beyond collections of facts or lists of standards to authentic, meaning-rich curriculum. I would have been a much better English/Language Arts teacher with these ideas clear in my thinking! And my students would have been much better served."
—Carol Ann Tomlinson, William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

"Lanning's experience and wisdom allow her to see the Big Picture when it comes to teaching kids about the Big Ideas we want them all to grapple with in the course of their time in schools."
—Jim Burke, Author of The English Teacher's Companion

Foreword by H. Lynn Erickson
Part I. Preparing for Curriculum Design
1. Curriculum Matters in Teaching and Learning
Curriculum as the Master Plan

What Is Concept-Based Curriculum?

2. The Components of a Concept-Based English Language Arts Curriculum
Traditional Curriculum, Traditional Teaching

From Traditionally Designed Curriculum to Concept-Based Curriculum Design

The Relationship Between Knowledge and Process

Understanding the Two Structures

Support for These Structures

Providing a Road Map for Instruction

3. Getting Started: Doing the Preliminary Work
Leading Curriculum Change

Assembling the Curriculum Leadership Team

Review of Concept-Based Curriculum


Part II. An Introduction to the Design Process
Assembling the Curriculum Writing Team

The Role of the Leadership Team

Unit Planning Pages

4. Designing the Curriculum: Steps 1 and 2
Step 1: Creating a Unit Title

Step 2: Identifying a Conceptual Lens


5. Designing the Curriculum: Step 3
Step 3: Creating the Unit Web


6. Designing the Curriculum: Steps 4 and 5
Thinking and Understanding

Step 4: Writing Generalizations

Step 5: Writing Guiding Questions

7. Designing the Curriculum: Steps 6 and 7
Step 6: Determining Critical Content

Step 7: Determining Key Skills

Summary of Steps 6 and 7

8. Designing the Curriculum: Steps 8, 9, and 10
Step 8: Designing the Culminating Assessment

Step 9: Suggesting Learning Experiences

Step 10: Writing the Unit Overview

Part III. What a Concept-Based Curriculum Looks Like
9. What Concept-Based English Language Arts Units Look Like
A Sample Elementary English Language Arts Unit

A Sample Middle School English Language Arts Unit

A Sample High School English Language Arts Unit


10. Voices From the Field


"Lanning makes concept-based ELA curriculum writing extremely comprehensible for curriculum leaders and writers. Curriculum leaders will be able to use this book as a resource to provide training to curriculum writing teams. Curriculum writers will gain the knowledge and confidence necessary to forge ahead in designing concept-based ELA curriculum for their districts. I can envision using this edition with curriculum writing leaders in a 'book study', as a prerequisite to curriculum work."

Rochelle DeMuccio, Coordinator, Language Arts and Reading
Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Dix Hills, NY

"Lois Lanning offers teachers a practical, principled approach to designing a curriculum that will engage and enrich even as it addresses the core skills kids need if they are to succeed in and after school. Her experience and wisdom allow her to see the Big Picture when it comes to teaching kids about the Big Ideas we want them all to grapple with in the course of their time in schools."

Jim Burke
author of What's the Big Idea …and The English Teacher's Companion
Key features
  • A step-by-step approach to developing ELA curriculum units
  • Focuses on student understanding (which is common to the concept-based model and to the core standards)
  • Includes sample ELA units developed over a decade (K-12)
  • Short! – with easy-to-use workbook format

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ISBN: 9781452284354

ISBN: 9781452241975