Common Core Standards: Helpful Summer Reading for Teachers

Though many believe the Common Core Standards (also referred to as just the Common Core) are a great tool for teaching American students valuable, real-world knowledge and skills, the onus for translating the standards into lessons has fallen on the shoulders of teachers.

Designed to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, the initiative (currently adopted by 44 out of 50 states) has proven less than digestible for many educators.

Luckily, there’s help — in the form of a little summer reading. Here are a few books designed for teachers to help explain the standards, share activity and lesson plan ideas and troubleshoot common issues with teaching the Common Core (like working with advanced students, or helping kids develop the vocabulary necessary to meet reading and writing standards).

And if you’re against the Core, well, there’s one for you too!


Books for Learning the Common Core Standards by State


First, the basics. You can always visit the official Common Core website to get full standards and guidelines, but if you want something you can keep on your desk (or a visual aid) you might like these books and tools.

  • Understanding Common Core State Standards by John S. Kendall
    This book touches on a fairly neglected topic in the frenzy of learning the new standards: why the Common Core has been developed and its goals, benefits and possibilities.
  • The Complete Common Core State Standards Kit Pocket Chart Cards by Carson-Dellosa
    This set of 97 cards cover each of the Common Core standards and are divided by the following subjects: math, reading and writing. This kit is an organized system that allows you to quickly and easily show your students what the standards are. Plus, each card includes an “I can” statement in the back, making it easier for younger students to understand.
  • Common Core Curriculum Maps
    Sorted by units, which contain focus standards, student objectives, suggested works and sample lesson plans/activities, these maps provide a standards checklist for each grade (with citations, so you can’t miss them).
  • Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, Christopher Lehman
    Consider this book a guide to helping students digest complex texts and improve their critical thinking without boggling your own mind (since it’s also a guide to interpreting the standards-based mandates you’ve been getting). It breaks down what the standards say (and imply, and leave out), and suggests ways to motivate your students through difficult reading.

Mixing it up with the Common Core


Who says the Common Core has to be a slog? Not these books, which offer offbeat, fun ways to work on required skills.

  • Teaching the Common Core Math Standards with Hands-On Activities by Judith A. Muschla, Gary Robert Muschla
    This book has ideas for activities that helps students sharpen their critical thinking, math reasoning and problem-solving skills, while also getting them to interact with fellow students, communicate their ideas, and apply their understanding to new problems. Note: All three authors are math teachers, and one is a member of the state Standards Review Panel for the Mathematics Core Curriculum Content Standards.
  • Instant STEM Activities -- Common Core Standards by Chalkboard Publishing
    There aren’t any Common Core Standards for science yet, but students will get a nice thinking skills workout from this book of STEM-oriented activities, which is helpful for math and literacy standards.

Troubleshooting the Common Core

Think you’ve got a unique problem with teaching the Common Core? Chances are, somebody else has had it too — and they’ve written a book about it!

  • Vocabulary for the Common Core by Robert Marzano, Julia Simms
    This book addresses the troubling gap between many students’ vocabulary and the complex language that Common Core reading contains, head on. It offers ideas for incorporating CCSS vocabulary into normal lessons, helps teachers track progress and provides insight into how new words are learned.

Help With Reading and Writing

Since the Common Core is so big on critical thinking skills, getting students to read more closely and write more mindfully (i.e., not just parroting what they read) can be challenging for teachers. Here’s a look at some resources that will help you cover reading and writing in class.

Bonus Book: Are you anti-Common Core? Glenn Beck is on your side!

Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education by Glenn Beck


Written by Cathy Vandewater