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Common Core, Unit by Unit

5 Critical Moves for Implementing the Reading Standards Across the Curriculum

By Cheryl Becker Dobbertin
Foreword by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Cheryl answers the concerns of teachers across the content areas who are asked to address the Common Core reading standards. She shows how to plan instruction while opening the door for every student to get noticed—every day.

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Will Common Core switch my focus from students to standards?
Will it make my best units obsolete?
Will my students be able to meet its ambitious aims?

Cheryl Dobbertin’s Common Core, Unit by Unit answers these concerns and many more. It lays out in black and white how to plan instruction that addresses Common Core reading while opening the door for every student to get noticed—every day.

“You may be wrestling with the idea of working even harder than you already do,” Cheryl writes. “Fortunately, the real change will come not through harder work, but through smarter work.” With tools and templates, exemplar units, and explicit action steps that focus and simplify planning in any content area, she walks you through:

  • designing engaging, purposeful units around high-interest content
  • teaching and assessing close-reading strategies while working in increasingly complex texts
  • differentiating so every reader can meet the standards.

Don’t sacrifice your own agency, students’ needs, or what you know about good teaching. Instead, trust Common Core, Unit by Unit to guide the planning of rich, meaningful instruction. Because meeting the standards doesn’t have to distract you from transforming readers’ lives.

Preview the book. Download and read a sample chapter.

(click any section below to continue reading)


INTRODUCTION: Why Plan Differently for the Common Core?

  • Josh Needs to Read Better 
  • Teaching Josh Means Action Planning 
  • Why Plan Differently?
  • How to Read This “How To” Book

1. Articulate Long-Range Plans

  • Seeing the Need to Change
  • Change at Both the Classroom and System Level 
  • Surface Change vs. Substantive Change 
  • The Steps in Long-Range Planning
  • Keys to Help You Make This Critical Move

2. Envision Contextualized Content

  • How Will Andrew Respond? 
  • Walking a Mile in Boo Radley’s Shoes 
  • Planning a Compelling Context for Reading 
  • Using Intriguing Questions to Test Theories 
  • Investigating Local Issues 
  • Exploring Local History 
  • Examining Ideas from Multiple Perspectives 
  • Analyzing Mentor Texts 
  • The Challenge of Context plus Complexity 
  • Finding Complex Yet Compelling Texts 
  • Keys to Help You Make This Critical Move

3. Develop Student-Shared Goals

  • How Historians Read 
  • Where Student-Shared Learning Targets Come From 
  • Creating and Organizing a Variety of Targets 
  • Creating Targets and Matched Assessments 
  • Daily Structures to Ensure That Students Understand and Use the Targets 
  • Moving Beyond Tracking 
  • The Impact of Clear Targets and Assessments on Student Learning 
  • Keys to Help You Make This Critical Move

4. Select Strategies That Build Understanding

  • The Problem with Assigning and Assessing 
  • Shifting to Prepare-Process-Assess 
  • Foundational Strategies: Close Reading and Strategic Questioning 
  • Preparing Students for Close Reading 
  • A Close Look at Close Reading 
  • Strategies That Help Students Dig Even Deeper 
  • Assessing Students’ Reading Work 
  • Designing Close-Reading Lessons 
  • Designing Strategic Questions 
  • Selecting Additional Processing Strategies 
  • Keys to Help You Make This Critical Move 
  • Reproducible Classroom Tools

5. Purposefully Differentiate

  • Purposefully Meeting Students’ Readiness Needs
  • Purposeful Pre-assessment
  • An Essential Approach: Tiered Processing Activities
  • The Power of Choice
  • Choice by Learning Preference
  • It’s Planning Time Spent Now or Later
  • Keys to Help You Make This Critical Move

Parting Thoughts


Companion Resources

Use Cheryl's helpful study guide with PLCs, book groups, or for your own professional learning.

View and download a slideshare presentation: 5 Critical Moves for Implementing the Reading Standards Across the Curriculum.

View and download an infographic from Pinterest about Cheryl's 5 Critical Moves.