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Designing a Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts

Meeting the Common Core With Intellectual Integrity, K–12
By: Lois A. Lanning

Foreword by Lynn Erickson

Fusing Lynn Erickson's groundbreaking curriculum model with implementation guidelines and sample units, this book puts you on the fast track to using concept-based curriculum.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781452241975
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Teaching Essentials
  • Year: 2012
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: January 31, 2013

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

This book is not available as a review copy.


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

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


Lois A. Lanning photo

Lois A. Lanning

Lois A. Lanning, PhD, is an independent education consultant. She presents and works with districts at the international, national, and state levels in the areas of literacy and Concept- Based Curriculum design.

This book is a natural extension of her three previous best-selling books in the Corwin Press Publisher’s Concept-Based collection, including Designing a Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts (2013), by Lois A. Lanning; Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom (2nd ed., 2017), by H. Lynn Erickson, Lois A. Lanning, and Rachel French; and Transitioning to Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction (2014), by H. Lynn Erickson and Lois A. Lanning.

In addition, Lois is the author of the bestselling book, Four Powerful Strategies for Struggling Readers, Grades 3-8: Small Group Instruction That Improves Comprehension, a joint publication between Corwin Press and the International Reading Association (2009), and a chapter in The Best of Corwin: Differentiated Instruction in Literacy, Math, and Science (2011), Leslie Laud, Editor.

Lois was a classroom teacher, K-12 reading consultant, special education teacher, elementary school principal, district curriculum director, adjunct professor, and finally, an assistant superintendent of schools for the last 12 years of her career in public schools. Lois is the recipient of numerous educational awards and recognitions.

Her hobbies include reading, biking, hiking, and traveling. Lois currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband. She has two children and two grandsons, whom she absolutely adores.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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





Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

This book is not available as a review copy.

Related Resources

  • Access to companion resources is available with the purchase of this book.