Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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How Common Core Math Standards Inspire Creative Lesson Planning

By Meg Boice

Historically, teachers have had the freedom to develop lesson plans that reflected their own style of teaching and the needs of the students they teach each day. Today, some teachers are concerned that the Common Core Standards, and the assessments arriving in 2014, will take this freedom away and require all teachers to be in lockstep.

But is this really the case?

There’s no denying that teaching from common standards will lead to some level of common focus across classrooms. In almost every state, teachers are being asked to move from curricula designed around their individual state’s standards to plans based on a set of national standards.

Yet there are many different ways to teach math. The Standards for Mathematical Practice provide the framework for a certain way to teach, but there is still room for flexibility within those Standards. In fact, with national Standards, there is unprecedented opportunity for collaboration across states, districts, and even buildings, which will give teachers a wide repertoire of strategies as they use the Math Practice Standards in planning instruction. With such wide access to planning ideas and best practices, teachers will actually be freed up to provide the support and individualized instruction that are also called for in the Standards.

Part of this planning should include scaffolding for struggling learners who who still need support as they build up to the rigor required by the Common Core. These scaffolding strategies will be unique to each classroom as teachers support the learners sitting in front of them. The best source of inspiration for teachers in implementing this approach, which may be new for many, is collaboration with their colleagues.

Such collaboration does not mean a lockstep approach to teaching. It means that each teacher will have a larger bag of instructional strategies to pull from when it comes time to plan lessons. When and how these are implemented will depend on the teacher’s professional judgment and the needs of his or her individual students.

This is an opportunity for teachers to grow professionally as they improve their own expertise and support students’ mastery of mathematics. Working together, teacher to teacher, we can all make our mark on the kids we teach while ensuring they get the skills they need to excel in the classroom and beyond.

Meg Boice is an experienced educator focused on preparing all students for success in college and careers.

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