Curricular Resources

The Tennessee Electronic Library is a great place to find free curricular development resources. Use the list below to find grade level specific video tutorials, tips and tricks to harness the power of TEL and links to even more tools.

This website, developed by the Divison of Curriculum and Instruction at the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Electronic Library, will help you find the resources you need.


The Common Core Standards are based on three major shifts:

  1. Building knowledge through content rich non-fiction texts.
  2. Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational
  3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic language

TEL gives teachers the tools to fulfill shifts 1 and 3 by providing high quality, complex informational texts that are hard to find in current textbooks. And it's free for everyone in Tennessee to use, anywhere there's an Internet connection.

Click here for more information on the shift to content-rich non-fiction.

Click here for more information on the shift to complex text.

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Find Readings by Lexile Score

These how-to videos show step-by-step how to locate supplimental readings in TEL by grade band and Lexile Score.

Select your grade band (K-5 or 6-12) and watch the how-to videos to get started. Use the links on the page to find resources as well. Be sure to check out the additional tips and tricks videos to get the most out of TEL!

K-5 How-To Videos

How to find articles for elementary students

Using World Book for K-5 students

Locating emergent texts for K-1 with TEL


Links to TEL Resources for K-5

TEL Kids Page


The TEL Kids page is the best place for K-5 students to start their online search.




Kids InfoBits lets students find age-appropirate resources for research projects and close readings. It's very kid-friendly. To find items by Lexile score, use the Advanced Search option in PowerSearch.


World Book kidsWorld Book Kids has tools, science projects, and the content that you trust. Use the Advanced Search to find articles by Lexile score.


Emerging readers

The Early World of Learning has built-in tools for emerging readers. It covers the concepts that K-1 students need to master, and includes tracked, read-aloud books in English and Spanish.

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6-12 How-To Videos

How to find articles for middle and high school


Using World Book for 6-12 students

Search TEL Resources for 6-12

student resourcesStudent Resources in Context brings together all the kinds of material students need for assignments on topic pages. Includes articles, images and primary sources. Find items by Lexile score with an Advanced Search.


World Book Student

World Book Student is a great tool for middle school students. There's a biographycenter, an atlas, and the high-quality articles that you can trust. Search for items by Lexile score with an Advanced Search.


WB advancedMore appropriate for high school students, World Book Advanced highlights the depth of Primary Sources and free e-books that are available for reading on a computer or download. Search for items by Lexile score with an Advanced Search.


Gale Power Search IconPower Search lets you search the vast Research collections of TEL at once. While it maybe overwhelming for students, it gives you another way to find material by Lexile score. Be sure to click on Advanced Search for Lexile searching.

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Tips and Tricks for using TEL

Focus student's attention on one part of TEL--share links to specific parts of TEL. View this video now.

Looking for e-books? TEL has hundreds of titles. View this video now.

TEL has writing tutorials for middle and high school students. View this video now.

Stay up-to-date on a topic with automatic emails! Sign up for email alerts when new articles on a particular topic are added. View this video now.

Learn how to get new articles from a particular magazine or journal sent to your inbox each month. View this video now.

Share TEL search results with one click: create a bookmark or a mini-coursepack for students. View this video now.

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More Common Core Tools

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Why shift to more nonfiction in the classroom?

Traditionally, school work has focused on fictional texts (stories, poems, and dramas) to build students' literacy skills and personal development. However, we know the vast majority of the reading students will do in college and the workplace will be informational texts such as textbooks, journal articles, nonfiction books, instructional manuals, and technical guides. Typically, less than 15% of instructional reading in elementary and middle schools is informational.

This is why shift one calls for students to be exposed throughout their schooling to content-rich nonfiction covering such areas as the arts, science, history, and the humanities—texts that not only help students develop the essential strategies for reading and comprehending informational text but also allow them to build a vast store of knowledge about the world outside the schoolhouse. 

In grades K-5, the balance between informational and literary texts should be 50-50.  By high school, it should be closer to 70-30 (note that this indicates reading across all subject areas; literature should continue to play a prominent role in English classes).  For more information about balancing literary and informational text, please see page 5 of the Common Core ELA Standards. For a more detailed account of the research this summary is drawn upon, please see Appendix A of the Standards.

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Why shift to more complex text?

Students are graduating high school without the skills necessary to read the types of complex texts they will encounter for the rest of their education and careers. Recent studies have indicated that the reading difficulty of college textbooks, academic journals, and workplace reading has steadily increased over the last fifty years while the level of reading done in middle and high school classrooms has gone down. One study found a gap of four grade levels between the difficulty of commonly read 12th grade texts and college-level texts. This is reflected in the most recent ACT data: only 43% of 2012 Tennessee graduates met the college and career readiness benchmark on the reading portion of the exam.

The complexity of a text is measured in three components, as outlined in this diagram.

While all three components—qualitative, quantitative, and reader and task considerations—are important in measuring the complexity of a given text, the qualitative component is often the best place to start when placing a text at the appropriate grade level. This is especially true for informational text, whose readability features can be measured more easily than literary texts. Readability metrics such as Lexile numbers take into account the difficulty of a text’s vocabulary and syntax. This table outlines the Common Core text complexity requirements by grade band using various commonly used measures:

Common Core Band ATOS Degrees of Reading Power Flesch-Kincaid The Lexile Framework Reading Maturity SourceRater
2nd-3rd 2.75-5.14 42-54 1.98-5.34 420-820 3.53-6.13 0.05-2.48
4th-5th 4.97-7.03 52-60 4.51-7.73 740-1010 5.42-7.92 0.84-5.75
6th-8th 7.00-9.98 57-67 6.51-10.34 925-1185 7.04-9.57 4.11-10.66
9th-10th 9.67-12.01 62-72 8.32-12.12 1050-1335 8.41-10.81 9.02-13.93
11th-CCR 11.20-14.10 67-74 10.34-14.2 1185-1385 9.57-12.00 12.30-14.50

Use this chart to place a text in a grade band, and then consider qualitative (such as prior knowledge requirements and unusual structures) and reader and task considerations to place the text in a certain grade. 

A special note for K-1 teachers: The text complexity bands in the above table start at 2nd grade. This is because beginning readers still need extensive teacher support and scaffolding to access written texts.  The Common Core Standards reflect this in reading standard #10 (the standard which deals with complexity at each grade level), as it is not until 2nd grade that students are expected to independently read and comprehend complex texts. As page 32 of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts states:

“Children at the kindergarten and grade 1 levels should be expected to read texts independently that have been specifically written to correlate to their reading level and their word knowledge.”

(Page 32 also includes a sample list of appropriate texts.) In the earlier grades, then, teachers should use read aloud and other group reading activities to engage students with texts that may prove too complex for independent reading. (This is in addition to the direct, explicit grade level instruction K-1 students receive daily.) The resources mentioned in the K-5 video include many texts below a 400L (Lexile) reading level that emergent readers may be able to access on their own.

For more information on how to evaluate a text’s qualitative and reader and task considerations, please see these excellent resources. For a more detailed account of text complexity and the research this summary is drawn upon, please see Appendix A of the Standards.

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Questions about Common Core?

Questions about TEL?

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The Tennessee Electronic Library is made possible through funding provided by the
General Assembly of the State of Tennessee and the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
TEL is administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, a division of the Tennessee
Office of the Secretary of State, Secretary Tre Hargett.
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