Knowledge of Standards (Preview)

Part 1: Intro & Objective

Intro & Objectives

They’re here! The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted by most U.S. states and they’re already informing curricula across U.S. classrooms. Good teachers have always had high standards for their students, but sometimes the teachers were the only ones who knew what those standards were. Now, all teachers are making the connection between standards and good instruction more explicit.

After participating in this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Support new teachers as they examine subject matter and grade level standards
  • Help new teachers to connect their instruction to standards
  • Support new teachers as they differentiate instruction and integrate multicultural education into your own district’s standards
  • Use the Common Core State Standards to design a lesson for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Part 2: Real World Case

It’s not unusual for a new teacher to get excited about a new lesson. As a mentor, you will want to maintain that enthusiasm while ensuring that the lesson will fulfill instructional objectives and be managed in the most effective way.

How do you advise a new teacher without squashing enthusiasm?

This video presents a case that highlights this dilemma.

Now that you’ve finished the video, consider these questions:

  • As you watched the reality case video, what did you notice?
  • As a mentor, how would you begin supporting Paige?
  • What questions should a new teacher ask him/herself as he/she begins to plan a lesson or unit?

Paige, a new social studies teacher, wants to teach a lesson about pollution and environmental responsibility in celebration of Earth Day. She has developed an elaborate lesson plan, but her mentor senses that Paige has not attended to the curriculum standards.

He wants to encourage her enthusiasm but also wants to ensure that her lesson effectively addresses the learning standards and makes the best use of instructional time.

Part 3: Building Knowledge

Due to copyright law, several readings cannot be hosted on this site. However, we encourage you to ask for assistance locating materials from your library media specialist. Many library services are freely available to educators.

Common Core State Standards

Most U.S. districts have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

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What New Teachers Need

This short article details three common needs of new teachers: classroom management, curricular guidance, and on-going support. How can you address these needs within your own mentoring relationship?

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Universal Design for Learning

A Standards-based classroom requires that teachers articulate their objectives in ways that students can understand them. Also, teachers have a responsibility to ensure that students can access the curriculum in multiple ways so that all students can achieve “the standard”. Universal Design for Learning was developed to ensure that all individuals have access to education. Sometimes this means that teachers need to adapt instruction. Check out the CAST website to learn about UDL adaptations that can make standards-based instruction more accessible and more effective. (If this sounds familiar, it might be. We mentioned CAST and UDL in the Differentiating Instruction lesson as well!).

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Response to Intervention

A Standards-based classroom also requires that teachers follow specific processes when they think that certain students aren’t “getting it.” All teachers need to be aware of and implement the latest federal laws related to the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Act. Perhaps the most important aspect of this is Response to Intervention (RTI). This National Center on Response to Intervention website has a wealth of resources for teachers and district administrators to ensure that all students are being served. The website includes expert interviews, webinars, toolkits, and worksheets. This link will bring you to a worksheet that can help you work with teachers to determine whether their instruction is aligned with RTI requirements.

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  • What should new teachers consider as they plan units?
  • How might they address their Standards in engaging ways?
  • How can I adapt instruction for all learners?
  • And how can they ensure that the instructional outcomes they desire are achieved?

Listen to our experts as they describe the questions new teachers need to consider.

Renee Clift, Ph.D.

Visit Expert’s Website

Renee Clift, Ph.D., conducts research on teachers’ development in their first years of teaching. She is an Associate Dean and Professor at the University of Arizona.

Listen to Renee Clift as she highlights questions a new teacher should consider as they relate to unit planning and instruction.

Maria E. Fránquiz

Visit Expert’s Website

Maria E. Fránquiz is the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Utah. Having written and edited several books and articles about English and dual language learners, she is an award-winning researcher and scholar on language learning.

Maria E. Fránquiz discusses how a new teacher might plan a lesson using standards while also ensuring that instruction is equitable and open to children who are language learners.

Check out this YouTube video of a Standards-based mathematics lesson.

  • What’s your opinion?
  • Generally speaking, what standard(s) do you think the teacher is addressing?
  • What did the teacher do well?
  • What would you recommend as the teacher tries to improve this lesson?

Activity 1: Analyzing a Lesson Plan

Using an existing lesson, identify the specific content standard being addressed. In the lesson, how did you differentiate your instruction to engage learners with varying strengths and interests? After working through the resources in this module, how do you think you can improve your lesson?

Activity 2: Developing lessons that align to the Common Core Standards

Using the Common Core State Standards, create a lesson in your content area and/or specific grade level for a heterogeneous group of students. You can find the CCSS here: This is a great activity to try with a new teacher because it can start some conversations about standards, differentiating instruction, and developing assessments of student learning.

Part 4: Review & Reflect

Let’s review what you’ve learned.

  • In addition to grade level standards, what other considerations should new teachers focus on when designing lesson plans for students?
  • How can you support a new teacher to plan and deliver instruction focused on the key concepts in the curriculum?

Think back to your initial responses.

  • After working through the resources in this module, do you still agree with your initial thoughts?
  • Has your perspective shifted in any way? If so, what aspects of your responses would you change?
  • As a mentor, where would you begin with supporting Paige?
  • What questions should a new teacher ask herself as they relate to unit/lesson planning and instruction?

Part 5: Glossary

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Developed in 2011-12 by the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and Achieve, Inc. (an organization started by the NGA to make U.S. national standards), these K-12 education standards define a set of knowledge and skills that U.S. students should have so that they can graduate from high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. Critics suggest that these Standards are too limiting, will not result in better student learning outcomes, and do not address holistic educational needs and opportunities (among other critiques).

Supporters suggest that these Standards will encourage deeper learning than most current state standards, provide a useful framework for all students in the U.S. regardless of regional differences, and allow for school systems to better articulate high expectations for all students (among other favorable evaluations). Most U.S. states have accepted the CCSS and will begin implementing them in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. The CCSS will be assessed with the PARCC Assessment ( and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (


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