Professional Development

Informational Text

Common Core Reading: Informational


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How do you strike a balance between approachability and appropriately complex informational texts? Are your students developing fluency with academic and domain-specific vocabulary? How can you engage them with activities that get them to dive deeply into what they read?

Get the most out of your Common Core training with this Reading: Informational course and interactive workshop. Our scaffolded approach to professional development focuses on useful real world strategies. We discuss best practices for teaching reading, vocabulary, and more as we show you how to optimize your lessons. Our hands-on workshop will guide you through creating a new lesson plan that you can use immediately.

Product Description

This course reviews the basics of teaching reading informational texts under the Common Core State Standards. ELA teachers in Common Core states will find this session useful, but it is relevant to any teacher who wants their students to engage deeply with texts, have a solid vocabulary foundation, and effectively utilize technical and nonfiction texts.

The course begins by analyzing the major shifts in reading instruction with the Common Core. After introducing each shift, the course moves into a hands-on workshop format. In Lesson 2, teachers use our instruction, guidance, and downloadable resources to begin a new lesson plan that is centered on a grade-appropriate complex text. Teachers continue to work with this lesson plan throughout the remainder of the course, incorporating academic vocabulary, an analysis of the author’s craft and structure, ancillary texts, and digital resources that will expand students’ general understanding of the text as it relates to the genre and the outside world, and assessments that require students to use text evidence in authentic responses to what they’ve learned. See the Table of Contents tab for more detailed information.

At the end of the course, participants will have access to useful downloadable resources to which they can refer as often as needed, even after the course is complete. Teachers will gain a new outlook on teaching informational texts in the Common Core classroom. Participants will also leave the course with a new lesson plan made as part of our hands-on workshop. Upon upload of that finished lesson plan, we will issue a certificate that can be submitted to administrators as proof of completed professional development hours.

More Information

Designed with K–8 teachers in mind, but useful for all ELA instructors.

This course takes 1–3 hours to complete. Upon uploading a completed lesson plan, you will receive a certificate that can be submitted to your administrator as proof of time spent.

For Illinois teachers, ISBE clock hours will be provided upon request. Contact us for more details.

See our Professional Development page for information on our other online and in-person professional development offerings.


Introduction and opening video
Lesson 1. Identify “shifts” that make Common Core different from previous standards.
    Shift 1: Teaching Complex Texts and Academic Vocabulary
    Shift 2: New Focus on Craft and Structure
    Shift 3: Building Knowledge through Integration of Ideas
    Shift 4: Using Text Evidence

Lesson 2. Learn how to integrate Common Core Standards into your Instruction
    Add More Complex Texts
    Choose Appropriately Complex Texts
    Use Complex Text
         Engage: Begin a lesson plan centered around a complex text
    Teach Academic Vocabulary
        Engage: Create vocabulary activities for your lesson
    Teach Craft and Structure
        Engage: Use questioning strategies to organize critical thinking activities for your lesson
    Build Knowledge through Content-Rich Nonfiction
        Engage: Incorporate visuals, ancillary texts, and digital resources to expand students’ understanding throughout the lesson
    Use Text Evidence
        Engage: Review your lesson plan and create or refine assessments to require students’ use of text evidence.
Hands-on Workshop
    Review and Finalize Your Lesson Plan
    Upload Your Lesson Plan
    Reflect on Your Lesson and Make Improvements
    Close Reading Models
    Close Reading Guide
    Sample Unit Plan
    Common Core Easy Reference Guide
    Choosing Appropriate Text Handout
    Curriculum Maps (Grades K–8)