Common Core Math Lesson Plans: "Big Change" or "No Change"?

Posted by Zack Blois on Dec 5, 2013 5:14:09 PM
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Despite recent advances in technology and pedagogical thinking, the math lesson plan has remained largely unchanged for the last century or so.

Common Core Lesson PlanOkay, so you may be writing lesson plans on a word processor instead of on paper, but the age-old daily guides still serve as self-constructed classroom "road maps" for identifying the goal(s) and objective(s) of the lesson, the standards that are going to be addressed, and how the objective(s) will be accomplished.

However, there's a new change on the horizon for many schools and classrooms across the country: the Common Core math standards. Will these new standards change lesson plan constructs? That's a big question!

Read below the break to learn how (and if) the new standards will affect your math lesson plan development process.

Objective and goals

Nearly every lesson plan begins with goals and objectives, and these goals almost always start with the phrase “The students will…”. The funny part about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is that that phrase is somewhat implied to come before each standard.

For example, let's look at “CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.2":

  • "Multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, distinguishing multiplicative comparison from additive comparison.”

That's a pretty concept heavy standard. But, if you look at is as, “The students will multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison," you've got a pretty solid goal to shoot for within the math lesson. The concepts we left off the end will come back in the "procedure", but we'll get to that later.

At initial view, creating goals/objectives based around the new standards seems pretty daunting. But after sitting down and combining the "nuts and bolts" of the math standards with your own goals and methods (as an educator), you'll see that they aren't so bad after all.


Chances are, you've already located the standard you wanted to cover in the lesson when creating your goals and objectives. But, don't look at it as a regurgitation of the lesson's goals and objectives. There are a couple of aspects to keep in mind when working with the new Common Core math standards.

First, the new standards are organized into three groups:

  • individual math standards

  • clusters (standards that are closely related to each other, )

  • domains (larger groups of related standards that might pull from various clusters).

So, when looking at the standard we used above, be aware that CCSS.Math.Content.4.OA.A.2" is the individual standard, "A" is the cluster (in this case, A stands for "Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems"), and "OA" is the domain (in this case, OA stands for "Operations & Algebraic Thinking")

Second, it's important to keep in mind that the numbers and letters themselves do not denote a specified order in which the standards need to be tackled. The Common Core math standards are not a pacing guide or a curriculum. The order and means in which the standards are taught remain in the hands of the curriculum developers and educators.


Remember those pieces we left off of the initial standard to create our goals and objectives? Well now those pieces can become the drivers of your everyday learning activities and instruction methods. Additionally, this is where the Standards for Mathematical Practice really come in handy (and for good reason). Your administrator will most likely want to see many of these “ways of work” practices within your lesson plan.

For example, the mathematical practices call for students to be exercising critical thinking skills every day. They also call for the student to be able to model what they just learned. Now, it’s impossible to incorporate every practice standard into one day’s lesson; there just isn’t enough time. But, there certainly is value in helping students gain peer collaboration skills, abstract reasoning ability, and critical thinking capabilities (especially when centered around math).

Chances are many of these "practices" are already staples of your daily lesson plans. However, adding focus to them only further increases your ability to enhance students' depth of knowledge skills and higher-order thinking abilities. It's hard to disagree with that.

How much do you think your lesson plan content will change?

We'd love to hear your comments, questions, and concerns about your own math lesson plan development, what changes the Common Core math standards might bring, and the ideas discussed in this blog post!

Do you feel like your lesson plan content will change dramatically with the adoption of the CCSS? Or, do you feel like your math lesson plans are already adequate to meet the apparent "increased rigor" and new focus on concepts? 

Start your conversation on our Facebook Page or Tweet us at @Wowzers.


More free CCSS resources from the Wowzers Team!

CCSS Content eBooklet download link

Topics: Common Core Content

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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