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Common Core State Standards & BetterLesson

November 11, 2015

It’s Website Wednesday once again, so we are bringing you another installment of our Master Teacher guest blog series!

Today, Master Teacher Michelle Marcus shows you how the BetterLesson site provides everything you need to implement Common Core standards in your classroom. If you’ve never used the BL site before, Michelle’s tips will make you a pro in no time. If you have, there’s a chance you might not be utilizing all of the site’s features, so read on for a full tutorial. Enjoy!

Marcus - header graphic

The Common Core. What is it? What do we do with it? Is it a curriculum? A checklist? How do we find out what lessons to teach? What are we expected to do? Who will tell us?

How many times have you heard these questions, or even asked them yourself? The more time passes, the more we understand that the Common Core is a set of standards focused on depth over quantity, and that these aligned standards are spread out across grade levels and held “common” across our states. The rigor of teaching and learning is raised and students are guided to explore and employ thinking and learning practices while working with the content. Students are, in the end, expected to be questioners and problem solvers, not just fact robots. This is the Common Core.

So, what does that mean for us, the teacher behind the curtain that is expected to make it all happen? Where do we get the lesson examples, professional development, or even work samples to show our students? Where do we start?

Your answer…BetterLesson! This amazing site is a warehouse of not only incredible lessons from Master Teachers from around the country, it also offers professional development tips, explanation of the CCSS, and even has teacher reflections to help you think through both your deployment of lessons and activities, and the design of learning practices in your classroom.

You can:

  • Search by Standard
  • Download/view quality materials
  • Browse Master Teacher Curriculum

For example, if you are wondering what the third grade math standard 3.NF.A.3 is, just click on “browse math standards,” and then click that standard.


Presto! 41 lessons pop up and you are on your way to watching videos of students and teachers, reading through lesson plans that demand rigor, and even downloading resources to use in your classroom. How easy is that?

What I really like is that once I am in a lesson, I have options. I can show the videos to my students as a review or opener to the lesson. I can watch the videos supplied by the teacher in order to enhance my understanding of the CCSS in action, build my repertoire of strategies, or even wrap my head around how it should look in action while I am watching my students work.

I also love the idea of being able to download helpful materials right from the lesson and have a reflection from the teacher that wrote the lesson to guide me away from possible pitfalls, or to point out ideas I want to be sure to include.

If it’s lessons aligned to the math practices you’re after, don’t worry, BetterLesson does that too! Simply type “MP1” into the search bar (green arrow), then narrow the results by grade and subject (pink arrows):

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If you’d like to look at content more holistically, you can also view an individual Master Teacher’s entire curriculum. Click on “Master Teacher Lessons” (green arrow), then click on “Meet the Teachers” (pink arrows). This is a great way to find a teacher who matches your style and see how he or she breaks apart units and weaves standards together over the course of the year.

Marcus - Graphic 2 (1) is a full service site to help us teach and learn. Try it out and follow a few teachers at your grade level. You won’t be sorry.

Michelle Marcus is a 3rd-grade teacher at Pembroke Elementary School in Troy, Michigan. A leader in her school and district, Michelle helped develop, document, and distribute math curricula and assessments that reflect goals of high achievement and quality instruction. Michelle was a member of both the Math and Science Master Teacher Projects. Click here to see all of her great CCSS and NGSS aligned lessons.

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