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Concept-Based Literacy Lessons

Concept-Based Literacy Lessons
Designing Learning to Ignite Understanding and Transfer, Grades 4-10

February 2019 | 176 pages | Corwin

Literacy is not a decontextualized drill of skills or learning just about “a book.” You will highlight, ponder, and tab as you read about the design of Concept-Based literacy lessons. All students deserve the best literacy instruction—and this IS the BEST.
—H. Lynn Erickson

The guide for designing and implementing Concept-Based literacy lessons

A Concept-Based Curriculum is designed to help students uncover important, transferable understandings about what it means to be a capable reader, writer, speaker, viewer, listener, and thinker. But, too often, a well-designed, conceptual curriculum does not translate into conceptual teaching. Concept Based Literacy Lessons helps bridge that divide, and provides practical support for teachers implementing Concept-Based literacy lessons.

This essential guide picks up where the book, Designing Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts left off. Authors Lois Lanning and Tiffanee Brown explain how to move from design to actionable practice by providing tools and examples straight from the classroom. They’ll also show teachers how to use common literacy instructional practices (such as Socratic Seminar, close reading, think aloud, explicit instruction, and so forth) to support students' transfer of conceptual understanding.

Written especially for literacy teachers, readers will find

  • Step-by-step help with lesson planning for conceptual understanding and transfer
  • Ideas for supporting inductive learning
  • Classroom Snapshots that showcase familiar literacy practices in Concept-Based classrooms
  • Strategies to promote critical, reflective, and conceptual thinking
  • Model elementary and secondary Concept-Based lesson and unit plans
  • A chapter devoted to answering frequently asked questions 

For educators looking for practical ways to implement a Curriculum and Instruction Model that’s more inquiry-driven and idea-centered, look no further than this book.

About the Authors
1. Curriculum is the Foundation
Maximizing Learning Through a Coherent Curriculum

WHAT is Concept-Based Curriculum?

WHY Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction?

HOW Are Concept-Based Curriculum Units of Instruction Designed?

The Classroom Setting


Extending Thought

2. Designing Concept-Based Literacy Lessons
Concept-Based Literacy Lessons

Steps in Planning a Concept-Based Literacy Lesson

Resources to Guide the Lesson-Planning Process

A Flowchart to Guide Thinking

Final Product


Extending Thought

3. Learning From Model Literacy Lesson Plans
Role of Inductive Inquiry in a Concept-Based Literacy Classroom

Balancing Inductive Inquiry and Explicit Instruction

The Developing Concept-Based teacher Rubrics

Learning Through Model Lesson Plans


Extending Thought

4. Designing Learning Experiences That Develop Conceptual Understanding
Moving Beyond Skills to Conceptual Understanding That Transfers

Developing Three-Dimensional Learning Experiences

Snapshots of Concept-Based Literacy Classrooms


Extending Thought

5. Frequently Asked Questions
Resource A: Model CBCI Curriculum Units
Resource B: Sample Graphic Organizers
Resource C: Student Reflection and Self-Assessment of Process
Resource D: Other Tools to Support Concept-Based Literacy Lesson Design
Resource E: Developing Concept-Based Teacher/Student Rubrics

How fortunate we are as educators to have this brilliant collaboration between Lois Lanning and Tiffanee Brown on Concept-Based Literacy Lesson development! To read their deep thinking and practical applications to Concept-Based Lesson Design, is to realize the critical nature of each student’s conceptual understanding and ability to transfer. This book, as well as Dr. Lanning’s earlier book (2013) on Designing Concept-Based Curriculum for English Language Arts, are cutting-edge. Literacy is not a decontextualized drill of skills or learning just about “a book.” You will highlight, ponder, and tab as you read about the design of Concept-Based Literacy Lessons. You will feel the excitement of this intellectual and engaging approach to teaching and learning. You will create your own exciting lesson plans and will know this is the holistic literacy approach you have been searching for.  All students deserve the best literacy instruction—and this IS the BEST.

H. Lynn Erickson

“How do we create ‘thinking’ classrooms and put theory into action? Templates to build lessons, rubrics to guide our thinking, and examples upon examples are used to help us transform rather than replace what we say and do in our classrooms. This is the ‘how to’ book that will be the treasured resource for 21st century educators.”


Connie Walser
Bay View School, Burlington, WA

Moving Literacy Beyond Skills to Understanding and Transfer is a user-friendly text that invites deeper thinking. Even though I lack familiarity with Concept-Based Curriculum, it provided ample explanation and support and made me to want to know more. This is definitely a title I will suggest to our Reading Coach and ELA faculty.

Melissa A. Campbell, 4th Grade Classroom Teacher, Williams Avenue Elementary School, Fort Payne, AL
Williams Avenue Elementary School

This is an excellent book for teachers of all levels of experience. Each time I felt a bit of confusion about how I would incorporate this into my teaching there was an example or story that helped me. These moments are strategically placed to help teachers understand that they can do this type of work, it just requires a shift in thinking. I would like to use this to help teachers create lessons to foster understanding and transfer.

Barbara Smith, Reading Teacher 3-6, Cutchogue East Elementary School, Cutchogue, NY
Cutchogue East Elementary School

Moving Literacy delivers what it promises. The easy- to- read chapters lead the teacher from the excitement of understanding Concept-Based Curriculum back to the classroom with concrete examples and tools to design concept-based lessons. Its the all-too-often skipped step in creating meaningful change.

Kathleen Swift, High School English Teacher, Newtown High School, Sandy Hook, CT
Newtown High School

This is a fantastic resource for teachers eager to learn how to incorporate concept-based learning in their literacy classrooms. By providing a clear unit framework, a wealth of concrete examples of lessons, engaging activities, and coaching tips to apply to your own planning, this book enables you to add a new dimension to your instruction while still maintaining ownership of your own teaching.

Caity Lehman, Grade 5-7 English Subject Coordinator, Colegio Anglo Colombiano, Bogotá, Colombia
Colegio Anglo Colombiano

It is well understood that both achievement and income gaps largely disappear between racial groups when factoring in literacy level.  We know that our schools must be producing careful thinkers, close readers, and concise writers in order to address the equity issues in our country.  But, we have not found a way to translate this understanding into the daily learning experiences of our children...until now.   Concept-based Literacy Lessons finally provides teachers with the fundamental learning design and array of strategies that are necessary to help each and every child develop critical literacy skills and understandings. Moving beyond proficiency on standardized literacy assessments, students educated based on the elements of this book will learn to how to leverage their voices, written and oral, in support of their own big ideas. They will understand the true power of being truly literate!

K. C. Knudson
Anacortes School District 103

The growing consensus among educators of the need for deeper learning and more meaningful lesson design has sparked much in the way of instructional theory and comparatively little in the way of practical instructional support. Lanning and Brown shift the focus to how––this book offers teachers a timely and straightforward approach to the design of dynamic learning experiences that support learning transfer, investigation, and meaning creation.

Joanne McEachen and Matt Kane

Concept-Based Literacy Lessons: Designing Learning to Ignite Understanding and Transfer Grades 4-10 provides us first hand experiences in developing and teaching effective Concept-Based units and lessons.  Lois and Tiffanee have created this brilliant pathway that incorporates model lessons and scaffolds to effectively support educators in getting to the practicality of  “what does this looks like on a daily basis?”, while allowing for teachers’ creativity, passions and expertise to be honored.  This book is like the “user’s guide” to Concept-Based, and will lead you step by step to create rich, deep learning experiences that engage our students’ hearts and minds.

Mischelle Darragh
Sedro-Woolley School District

Where other resources on the market focus on theory alone, Dr. Lois Lanning and Tiffanee Brown’s newest book provides teachers with a practical approach to guide literacy lesson design.  Co-authors Lanning and Brown emphasize the critical importance of a Concept-Based classroom that blends both inquiry and explicit skill instruction so that students learn to transfer their ideas across content areas. The model lessons and “Snapshots” will inspire teachers who want to design purposeful lessons that cultivate students’ conceptual understandings.

Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue, Superintendent Newtown Public Schools
Newtown, CT
Key features
ELA teachers will find:
  • Step-by-step help with lesson planning for conceptual understanding
  • Instructional strategies for implementing in the classroom
  • The big picture of vertical alignment grades 4-10, so that they know what came before and what's coming next
  • Example lesson and unit plans from a real CBCI teacher

Sample Materials & Chapters

Table of Contents


Chapter 3

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ISBN: 9781544318578
CAD$ 54.95

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