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Math Lesson Planning Guides

Each of the lesson planning resources below is a math-specific tool designed to help teachers think about, plan, and enact high-quality lessons. These and other tools are part of the District Sample Curriculum Project's (DSCP) Phase IV focus on instructional strategies.

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions

Authors: Margaret (Peg) Smith and Mary Kay Stein, University of Pittsburgh

The book 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (2011) details five practices for planning and facilitating lessons that are rooted in student thinking and discussion:

  • Anticipating what strategies students will use when solving problems
  • Monitoring student work in class to survey different strategies and approaches
  • Selecting students to present their strategies to the class
  • Sequencing student presentations to maximize the overall learning of the class
  • Connecting student strategies and ideas to strengthen the learning of the mathematics

The 5 Practices approach could be used both as a lesson planning guide and an instructional model. The anticipating practice is the one most focused on lesson planning, but the philosophy of the book overall will help strengthen teachers' lesson planning.

Thinking Through a Lesson Protocol

Authors: Margaret (Peg) Smith, Victoria Bill, and Elizabeth Hughes, University of Pittsburgh

The article "Thinking Through a Lesson: Successfully Implementing High-Level Tasks" (2008) was published in Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School and is a still-useful predecessor to the 5 Practices book. Like 5 Practices, the Thinking Through a Lesson Protocol (TTLP) is both a useful planning guide as well as an instructional model. To help teachers plan and enact lessons, the TTLP offers a series of guiding questions organized in three parts:

  • Part 1: Selecting and Setting Up a Mathematical Task
  • Part 2: Supporting Students' Exploration of the Task
  • Part 3: Sharing and Discussing the Task

NCTM members can also access a professional development guide for the Thinking Through a Lesson article, which offers a structure and set of questions for an activity with teachers who have read the article.

If you are not an MTMS subscriber, the article may be found elsewhere on the web and Elizabeth Hughes has posted a pre-print version of the article on ResearchGate. The TTLP is also described in Chapter 11 of the book Implementing Standards-Based Instruction: A Casebook for Professional Development (2nd ed.) by Stein, Smith, Henningsen, and Silver (2009).

Achieve the Core Lesson Planning Tool

Authors: Student Achievement Partners

The Achieve the Core Lesson Planning Tool from Student Achievement Partners is a digital and interactive lesson planning tool. The Lesson Planning Tool is particularly helpful in ensuring that lessons are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and that they embody the three Common Core Shifts:

  • Focus strongly where the Standards focus
  • Coherencethink across grades, and link to major topics within grades
  • Rigor: in major topics pursue:
    • conceptual understanding,
    • procedural skill and fluency, and
    • application with equal intensity.

The Lesson Planning Tool automatically saves lessons as you plan them and offers tools for sharing lessons with others.