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ENGL 453 Methods in Teaching English: Creating Text Sets

With Resources for Teaching Adolescent Literature

What are Text Sets

A text set is a collection of sources that support a common theme, issue or topic. Text sets should include a variety of genres, text types, levels and formats.

Examples of material include (but are not limited to):

  • fiction (novels, picture books, short stories)
  • non fiction
  • poetry
  • images
  • newspaper and magazine articles
  • apps
  • webcasts and podcasts
  • websites
  • artwork
  • songs
  • primary sources (interviews, documents, artifacts)

How to Create Text Sets

What steps are involved in putting together a text set?

  1. Start with the content - what do students need to know or in other words --  what do you need to teach?
  2. Build the text set  - find material that supports the content you want to teach and want students to learn.
  3. Organize the texts - how and when will you use the texts?
  4. Creating and responding to texts - how will students work with the texts, what will they do with the texts? (Cappiello, 2013)

A few essential questions to ask and/or issues to consider when assembling a text set.

  1. Think about the standards. What are students expected to know and be able to do? This can dictate the topics/themes chosen.
  2. What do you (the teacher) want students to know (beyond the standards)?
  3. What topics/themes/content will engage and excite students (Cappiello, 2013)?

Cappiello, M. A., & Dawes, E. T. (2013). Teaching with text sets. Huntington Beach, Calif: Shell Education.

Reading Level Guides

  • - Search for a specific book to find out the reading difficulty level of that title.
  • Lexile Framework for Reading
    Search for a specific books or a list of books
  • Teacher Book Wizard
    Use Quick Search to search for reading difficulty and interest level of a specific book title, or use Leveled Search to find a list of books by reading difficulty level. Includes lesson plans, more.


Finding Poetry


via Chadwyck-Healey (Full Text)Collection of poetry databases.

Poetry Foundation

The children’s poet laureate aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry.

Creative and inexpensive suggestions for making poetry a more important part of school life during April and throughout the year.

Finding Magazine, Newspaper, or Journal Articles


Finding Primary Resources

C-SPAN Classroom

Free primary source materials for social studies teachers.

A nonprofit organization devoted to providing FREE primary source material for students, teachers, and history buffs. This site focuses primarily on HOW news of major, and not so major, events in American history were reported in newspapers of the time.
Sets of primary sources on specific topics.

Finding Websites and Apps

Finding Audio and Videos offers a collection of audio and video speeches organized by theme and historical period.

CNN Student News
Provides national and world news with background material, activities, discussion starters and teaching guides.

BBC's Witness podcasts
Witness history as told by the people who were there. Five days a week we will be talking to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events.
Snag Learning
Snag Learning offers free access to high quality documentary films from notable producers like National Geographic and NOVA.
Over 7,000 full-length, streaming educational videos in many academic disciplines.
via NC LIVEOnline videos from PBS including Ken Burns', Masterpiece Theater, Scientific American, American Experience, and more.
Online Tutorial

Finding Music

Grove Music Online via Oxford Music Online (Full Text)
Grove Music Online is a comprehensive reference source for music, providing over 8,000 articles on composers, performers, conductors, instruments and notation, forms and genres, and individual works. It offers the full texts of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, as well as The Oxford Companion to Music and The Oxford Dictionary of Music.
Limited number of concurrent access. Try again later if access is denied.
New Music Express Magazine Online Top 100 Songs of the 1960s
            The online presence of the UK-based New Musical Express.
Naxos Music Library
Naxos Music Library [NML] is the world's largest online classical music library. Currently, it offers streaming access to more than 70,377 CDs with more than 1,013,542 tracks. On average, 500 new CDs are added to the library every month.
Limited number of concurrent access. Try again later if access is denied.
Online Resources: