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Instructional Practice Guide: Lesson Planning

Use Digital Version
Grades K–High School

The Lesson Planning Tool (digital version only) guides teachers through a series of prompts about the lesson content, structure, and activities to ensure the Shifts required by the CCSS are central to the lesson.

  • English Language Arts teachers will be guided through the process of creating a close-reading lesson.
  • Math teachers will focus on grade or course-level standards while developing lessons.

These lessons can be easily shared with a coach in advance of a non-evaluative observation focused on Common Core-aligned classroom instruction.

How to use it

Before using the Lesson Planning Tool, the teacher should choose the standard or cluster(s) of standards that the lesson is targeting. ELA teachers should also select the text addressed in the close-reading lesson. 

Then as the teacher is designing or reviewing the lesson, she can use the tool to evaluate the degree of alignment present. Here are some additional tips for using the tool:  

  • Before beginning, the teacher may want to look at the questions in each module. One can “Download all the questions” to see everything at once.
  • Begin with the first module “Planning a Standards-Aligned Lesson”.
  • Once the teacher has completed the first module, the other modules allow one to go deeper into different aspects of the Shifts in planning. For close-reading lessons, complete the modules sequentially. For math, choose the modules most relevant to the content of the lesson.
  • A teacher may start a lesson and return to it at any time. A lesson does not need to be completed in one sitting!
  • Each module is designed to take approximately a planning period to complete. While a teacher does not have to answer every question or every section, the more a teacher completes, the more she will understand and begin to internalize what to look and plan for in aligned lessons.
  • Need help? Each prompt in the tool has a “Need help?” link beneath it that leads to support and resources specific to that section and question.

References to Core Actions and indicators found in the Instructional Practice Guide: Coaching Tool can be found throughout the Lesson Planning Tool. Teachers using the lesson planning tool with a coach or colleague can use these references to more easily make connections between what Common Core-aligned content and practice has been planned and what is to be observed during classroom instruction (for more information, see the “planning and coaching” section below.)  

Planning and coaching

Effective planning and constructive feedback are critical to improving instructional practice. The Instructional Practice Guide: Coaching and Lesson Planning tools support these activities by using a shared framework to focus on the specific ways to identify that the Shifts required by the CCSS are present in the classroom.  In order for teachers, colleagues, and instructional leaders to have meaningful and productive conversations that lead to changes in practice, there must be this kind of shared expectations about how to identify evidence of the Common Core in both lesson planning and classroom observation.

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