CommonLit Target Lessons 6 Ways to Use Target Lessons in Your Classroom

Use data-driven instruction to remediate skills gaps, teach new strategies in whole or small groups, and engage students with riveting texts.

Target Lessons are easy-to-use, highly engaging lessons, designed to be completed in a single class period. These lessons focus on a “target,” or a specific reading skill students will practice throughout the lesson. Target Lessons teach students a key literary or informational reading comprehension skill, like identifying the main idea or analyzing character point of view.

These lessons include scaffolded Pre-Reading, During Reading, and Post-Reading activities designed to build student knowledge as they move through the lesson. By the end of the lesson, students are prepared for a brief end-of-lesson assessment displaying their understanding of using the skill.

CommonLit’s library is home to over 200 Target Lessons for grades 3-12, and soon will have lessons covering every standard for every grade level. In this blog post, we will talk about 6 ways teachers can leverage Target Lessons to improve student reading comprehension through targeted reading instruction.

#1: Teach a New Skill to Your Whole Class

Target Lessons are a great way to introduce a new skill to your class. Say you are a 3rd grade teacher, and you want to teach students how to find the best evidence in a fiction text. You can teach “Finding the Best Evidence with ‘Miss Perfect.’”

Teachers can play the video about finding evidence for the class and launch a class discussion about how to practice this skill. Then, teachers can gradually release students, engaging in whole group reading and partner discussions before asking students to practice the target skill independently.

#2: Teach a New Skill in Small Groups or Centers

Another way to use Target Lessons is to teach new skills in a small group or a reading center, which is particularly useful for elementary students. One center could be computer work with a Target Lesson, and when students get to meet with the teacher when they switch centers, they can practice that target skill in their small reading groups.

#3: Remediate Skills Gaps with Data-Driven Instruction

One of the highest value ways to introduce Target Lessons into your classroom is to use them to remediate skills gaps discovered using CommonLit’s data dashboards.

Teachers who use our digital library lessons will get access to tons of useful data dashboards, including ones broken down by standard. After students submit digital lessons, any multiple choice questions will be automatically graded, providing at-a-glance data at the individual student and class level.

Teachers can see which standards students are struggling with. For example, in this 6th grade class, every student scored 100% on RI.2 questions, so they have mastered that skill. However, Steve Harrington, Max Mayfield, and Lucas Sinclair need work with RI.5. They have only gotten half of RI.5 questions correct.

Knowing this, I can go to Target Lessons and assign a RI.5 lesson for my students, for example “Analyzing Text Structures with ‘Any More Earths Out There?’” Steve, Max, and Lucas can get targeted instruction on this skill, helping them remediate skills gaps and continue to grow. This remediation could occur during small group intervention or for homework or classwork.

#4: Reteach Skills Your Class Needs Extra Practice With

Our skills-based data dashboards also include whole class data, which can show teachers which topics need to be retaught at a whole class level. For example, this teacher’s Period 1 class has a 100% average on RI.2. Period 3 has an average of 70%, so this means targeted, individualized practice could help. However, the average for Period 2 is 58%, meaning about half the class is struggling with RI.2 and may benefit from a reteach lesson.

This teacher could assign the Target Lesson “Identifying Main Ideas and Central Idea with ‘Shakespeare Had Fewer Words, But Doper Rhymes, Than Rappers” to help the Period 2 class practice finding main ideas in an informational text.

#5: Use Target Lessons for Close Reading

Many teachers use Close Reading techniques in their ELA classes. Students read a passage multiple times, annotating different elements of the text during each exposure. Usually, the class will read once for gist, determining the key ideas and details. Then, during the second reading, they will focus on craft and structure. In the final read through, students will put everything together to determine what the text means.

Many Target Lessons are cross-listed in our general library. Teachers could read through as a whole class for gist, then use the Target Lesson version for the second read to analyze text structures and author moves. Finally, students could complete the general library lesson for the third read to answer in-depth assessment questions.

For example, an 8th grade teacher may read “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury aloud to the class to determine the general understanding of the text. Then, teachers can use the “Analyzing Character Point of View with ‘All Summer in a Day’” Target Lesson. As students dive into the second reading, they can determine how the author chooses to portray characters’ perspectives. Then, students could read a third time on the CommonLit library version to zoom out and consider what the text means as a whole, answering independent analysis Assessment Questions about the story.

#6: Engage Students with Exciting, Relevant Texts

Struggling to get students excited to learn skills with engaging lessons? Target Lessons are designed to be exciting and to rally students around interesting literary and informational texts as they engage in high-level practice of grade-level ELA skills.

The CommonLit library is home to hundreds of Target Lessons ranging from topics like animals to favorite short stories written by famous authors like Gary Soto.

Next Steps

Looking for more engaging lessons to build knowledge and skills? Explore our full library of Target Lessons here!

Want to learn more about utilizing CommonLit’s free digital literacy program in your classroom?