Dear Pre-Service Teachers,
Congratulations on deciding to become a teacher. Yours is a noble calling, "not the filling of a pail," as the Irish poet W.B. Yeats said, "but the lighting of a fire" in the minds and hearts of your students.
As a pre-service teacher, "lighting a fire" begins with devoting time to one of the most important elements of the profession: planning and creating lessons and units. Curriculum Pathways is here to help you with these crucial activities!
Although lesson plans take a variety of formats, most contain common elements that highlight:
- What to teach (lesson title)
- How to teach (lesson objectives and procedures)
- What and how to evaluate (assessment)
Let's take a look at how Curriculum Pathways can help you plan at each step of this process.
What to Teach
To start lesson planning, identify the instructional goals and the content students need to master. The best place to begin is standards. State and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) – are used by districts and schools to outline learning goals (i.e., what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade). Other resources, such as pacing guides or district- and school-level documentation, might also be available.
Curriculum Pathways provides standards alignment in two helpful ways. First, you can search all of your standards, whether state or Common Core, to find specific resources. Second, the Lesson Guide of each individual resource provides specific standards alignment.
Put simply, you can find Curriculum Pathways resources by searching standards and within each resource see specific standards alignment. No longer do you need to cross-reference state or district websites to identify standards for a lesson. We've done the work for you!
How to Teach
Every plan needs lesson objectives that provide the best instruction. Objectives often take the form of action statements that imply a certain level of thinking and understanding. Perhaps the most popular reference for writing objectives is Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. The taxonomy assigns levels of understanding and cognitive processing implied by certain verbs. Other useful guides have applied Bloom's taxonomy to instructional scenarios such as teaching with technology.
The Lesson Guide, an integral feature of each resource in Curriculum Pathways, provides specific objectives for that lesson. For example, the Lesson Guide for Punctuation Rules! suggests the following objectives:
- Identify the most common punctuation marks and their uses
- Demonstrate an understanding of the basic rules of punctuation
- Demonstrate the connection between punctuation and meaning
- Provide specific words, phrases, and clauses to create sentences and apply punctuation
- Use assessment information to check understanding
Just as with standards identification and alignment, our resources provide the specific information necessary to support good lesson planning.
In preparation for a new theme, topic, or chapter, you need to identify what students will do over the course of a unit. For example, students might take notes on introductory information, participate in class discussions, write essays, work through problems, conduct hands-on investigations, read and analyze pertinent information, and demonstrate learning through various assessments.
The Curriculum Pathways Plan Books provide a model for effective resource integration. Each is animated and offers a glimpse of a week’s instructional plans that reflect best practices while satisfying a variety of learning styles.
We offer sample plan books for each of the disciplines.
- English Language Arts: Reading Skills: Reading for Meaning and American Literature: Themes and Stylistic Devices in Thoreau's Walden
- Mathematics: Algebra 1: Radicals/Distance and Algebra 1: Quadratics
- Science: Physical Science: Newton's Laws & Gravity and Biology: Infectious Diseases
- Social Studies: United States History: Conflicts Foreshadowing the Civil War and Civics: International Trade
- Spanish: Verb Tenses: Past Tense Verbs and Places: Geography
What and How to Evaluate
Too often we hear assessment and we think test or exam, but effective assessment involves much more than that. Throughout the lesson, you'll want to monitor student progress (formative assessment), and at the end of the lesson, you'll evaluate students' overall understanding (summative assessment).
Curriculum Pathways provides a variety of materials to help with both forms of assessment. In particular, check out the Lesson Guides in each resource for worksheets, scoring guides, online quizzes, and other materials.
In addition to the resources described, Curriculum Pathways has a wealth of other materials to help with lesson and unit planning. At A Glance documents list subject categories and resource titles. The Information for Preservice Teachers document from our Tips & Tricks page walks you through the process of identifying a standard, selecting a resource, differentiating instruction, and integrating a resource. It also offers links to discipline- and technology-focused organizations for teachers.
Good luck future teachers, and remember, we're here for you!