Mapping Comprehensive Units to ELA Common Core Standards


Mapping Comprehensive Units to the ELA Common Core Standards, 6–12
By Kathy Tuchman Glass
(Corwin, 2013 – Learn more)

anne-anderson-2014Reviewed by Anne Anderson

The purpose of Mapping Comprehensive Units to the ELA Common Core Standards 6-12 is quite simply “to guide readers to comprehensively map a unit of study using the ELA CCSS.” (p.2) Undergirded by this simple purpose,  Kathy Tuchman Glass has created an intensive, in-depth study to lead educators in understanding and implementing the standards.  Don’t be misled by the title — she also provides excellent support and numerous examples for core content teachers who share responsibility for the ELA standards.

Glass’s writing style is straightforward and easy to follow.  In Chapter 1, Standards and Knowledge, she begins with a review of the major shifts in the Common Core, followed by an overview of the standards.  She warns readers that the writing standards can be confusing and encourages collaboration.  (The deeper I got into this book, the more I needed/wanted a colleague or two to work with!)

Further, she re-formats the writing standards by Text Types and Purposes to show the progression from grade to grade.  That will be extremely beneficial to teachers.

Glass_Mapping_Comprehensive_Units_ELACC andersonStep by step guidance

Be prepared to work as you read/study this book! You need to schedule time and energy for mapping units. It’s hard work. Glass even suggests having chocolate handy. (I agree!) At the conclusion of each chapter is an exercise that guides teachers in designing the unit maps.

The author encourages teachers to follow each step in each exercise in the order she presents them:

  1. What is the best way to group standards?
  2. How are standards used to determine what students should know?
  3. How do educators create (or revise) essential understandings?
  4. How do educators create essential unit and lesson guiding questions?
  5. How do educators determine an appropriate summative assessment?
  6. What targeted skills with associated activities, evidence of assessment, and resources can educators design (and find) for a targeted unit?
  7. How can you indicate differentiation on your unit map?

Glass leads readers step by step, provides multiple examples, and continually offers reassurance that creating a map will pay off.  It feels like she’s your personal professional development consultant!

A closer look

In Exercise 1 on grouping standards, Glass presents two options for approaching this task. Select the option that works best for you and then enter the standards into the downloadable templates that accompany this book. The author offers support for either option.

Before beginning Exercise 4, essential unit and essential lesson guiding questions, Glass poses the following question:  What characterizes each kind of question – the essential unit guiding question and the lesson guiding question? She then leads teachers through four steps to create unit guiding questions.

Mapping Comprehensive Units to the ELA Common Core Standards is filled with checklists, sample assessments, and rubrics.  The chapter on differentiation contains numerous activities and teaching strategies that are easy to create and implement.

The final chapter features sample lesson plans along with these final words from Kathy Glass:  “Go forth with a renewed spirit and a more elevated way of thinking, and be the awesome teacher and mentor you were destined to be.”  (p.232)

Anne Anderson finally got out of the 8th grade after 24 years and 9 weeks. She spent the next 9 years sharing her expertise in literacy and writing with K-12 teachers and administrators throughout the district. She credits National Writing Project and Poetry Alive! as turning points in her growth as a teacher. She now shares her expertise nationwide as an Educational Consultant and through her website and her bi-monthly newsletter, Spotlight on Success.


MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great 4-8 resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. And be sure to subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief for the latest middle grades news & commentary from around the USA.

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