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Colorado teachers featured in lesson-sharing site’s Common Core launch

When a three-year-old lesson-sharing website recruited teachers to share the work they had done adjusting their instruction to the new Common Core standards, Colorado teachers were among those who took up the call.

BetterLesson’s new repository of Common Core-aligned lesson plans features 115 math lessons from three “master teachers” who work in Colorado schools, including two from the Fort Collins area. Overall, the new site boasts 3,000 lessons in math and English from more than 130 teachers across the country.

The Common Core lesson library was born of a partnership between BetterLesson and the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union whose affiliate, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, represents Denver teachers. Like the smaller American Federation of Teachers, which represents Douglas County teachers, the NEA has complained that its members have been asked to revamp their instruction without getting the training or curriculum materials they need to do a good job. The new lesson plan library, which will grow weekly, aims to fill that gap.

Each lesson plan includes not only the standards it meets and the activities that students will do, but also videos of the teacher demonstrating and explaining his or her strategies and examples of student work.

For example, Jessica Keigan, who teaches language arts at Horizon High School in the Adams 12 Five Star school district, submitted a lesson plan on “artistic choices” in William Shakespeare’s Othello. One lesson, in keeping with Common Core’s emphasis on close reading and informational texts, has students translating Othello’s story into “geographic and moral” maps, based on literary articles about the play. In addition to resources for other teachers to recreate the lessons, she includes reflections on what went well in the lesson and what didn’t. The unit includes several lessons on “reading like a pro” to build close reading and analysis skills and ends with a student-driven discussion of the play.

Other local master teachers are

  • Jacob Nazeck, who teaches math at Fort Collins’ Ridgeview Classical Charter Schools.
  • Tom Chandler, who teachers math at Ault’s Highland High School.

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