A teacher’s main fear in switching to the Common Core State Standards is that all of the lesson plans, worksheets and other materials the teacher uses regularly will not fit the standards. The good news about the Common Core State Standards, however, is that most of the materials teachers regularly use can be easily adapted to fit the standards. The Common Core State Standards do not radically change the material students learn and focus instead on how they interact with the material.
Analyzing the Lesson
Before throwing out lesson plans or simply plugging some of the Common Core standards into them, take a second to look at the lesson and answer a few simple questions:
• What parts of the lesson address the old standards?
• What parts of the lesson address the Common Core State Standards?
• What parts of the lesson address both the old and new standards?
If parts of a lesson address either just the Common Core State Standards or both the old and new standards, no change is needed. However, if portions of the lesson only address the old standards, answer the following two questions:
1. Can I leave it out of the lesson?
2. If I can’t leave it out of the lesson, how can I change it to make it fit the Common Core standards?
Whether a portion of the lesson or the entire lesson needs changed, often all that has to be done is to take the existing standards and move up a level or two on the higher-order thinking scale. For example, if the old lesson has students identify the author’s point of view, but the Common Core standard asks students to distinguish between the author’s point of view and their own, simply add a Venn diagram or other compare/contrast component to help students show how they agree and disagree with the author.
While the process may seem somewhat involved, it will take significantly less time than creating entirely new lesson plans and can be done one lesson at a time a few days or weeks before the lesson will be used.
Taking it Further
The ultimate goal of the Common Core State Standards
is to prepare students to enter the workforce or pursue a degree after graduation. This involves providing a real-world context for the skills students are learning and encouraging them to develop their higher-level thinking skills. The more a teacher stresses the relevance of what students are learning and provides them with real-world examples, the more the lessons will fit with the standards.
Helping students to see and discuss multiple ways to look at the same topic will also improve a lesson. For example, in a math class, show students multiple ways to solve a problem and allow them to choose which method works best. In an English class, introduce students to a large selection of diverse texts, not just the classics. Adding time for discussion and reflection in a lesson plan can also bump up the level of instruction and help students make crucial connections between what is being taught and its relevance to their lives.
You can also find Common Core lesson plans
in our resource directory.