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According to the Facts on File Dictionary of Education, a curriculum guide differs from a lesson plan in that it includes “one or more aspects of curriculum and instruction, such as philosophy, policies, aims, objectives, subject matter, resources and processes” (p.138), while a lesson plan “ includes the instructional objectives and methods for a particular functional unit or period of instruction” (p. 271). The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) has many materials containing lesson plans, primarily in the form of curriculum guides, in both print and microfiche formats; however, lesson plans can also be found on various websites. This guide explains how to find lesson plans in print, online, and on microfiche.
Many lesson plans are embedded within the curriculum guides. If you are looking for lesson plans on a specific topic, see the Guide to the Curriculum Collection which includes a “Call Number Guide by Subject.” Find the call number that corresponds to your subject. For example, if your subject is American history, the call number will be 973. Then you can either use the Online Library Catalog and run a call number search to see titles within that call number range, or you can browse bookshelves in the Curriculum Collection in Room 112, Main Library. Curriculum guides are shelved separately from the textbooks and other materials and begin with the prefix “CURR.” Look at the Map of the School (S-) and Curriculum Room to determine where they are located.
K-5 Math Teaching Resources
Free, printable resources, activities, and games to supplement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics for grades K-5 provided by K-5 Math Teaching Resources LLC, an educational consultant company.
Learn Zillion contains video lessons and assessment tools for teaching to the Common Core State Standards in grades 3-12. The site was started at the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., and allows teachers from around the United States to contribute lessons. Users can browse lessons by grade level, domain, or specific Standard. Many lessons include additional resources such as slides, parent letters, and discussion protocol. Users can create an account and use the site to assign video lessons to students and track student progress.
Department of Education: Tasks, Units & Student Work
A searchable collection of activities, student work, and instructional units aligned to the CCSS and created by educators in New York City.
ReadWorks is a non-profit organization that provides free lesson plans and teaching units on reading comprehension for grades K-6. The site is searchable and browsable by topic, grade, and standard. Lesson plans align with the Common Core State Standards and state standards, and each lesson lists the standards to which it aligns.
Share My Lesson: Common Core State Standards Information
Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, an online network of educators, and provides a space for teachers to share lesson plans and teaching resources. The Common Core State Standards Information Center contains more than 700 lesson plans aligned to the Standards by specially-trained teachers. The Information Center also provides links to blogs and resources about the CCSS, a teacher forum, and news and editorial content. Users must create an account to use this free site.
Channel: Confused About Common Core?
A collection of over 250 videos from the Teaching Channel with information about and suggested activities that align with the Common Core State Standards.
ReadWriteThink is a website focused on literacy for K-12 students. It provides detailed, research-based lesson plans that can be searched by grade level as well as area of literacy practice. The site also includes a wide variety of web resources, including instructional, reference, professional development, and interactive student resources.
Story Arts Online
Story Arts Online provides lesson plans and activities to help teachers incorporate storytelling in the classroom to teach language arts. The site was created by storyteller and author Heather Forest and funded by Bell Atlantic Foundation. The site also has suggestions as to how to use storytelling to teach math, science, social studies and the arts, and includes concise folktale plots and Aesop’s fables as retold by Forest.
MSTE Online Resource Catalog
The Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a number of interactive resources for aiding K-12 students in their math and science education. These lessons range from number and operations to data analysis and probability in mathematics and from basic chemistry to physics in science.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics offers lesson plans to those who register with NCTM. Students can register for $45/year and can extend membership beyond graduation. Clicking “Browse all Lessons” near the bottom of the page will allow you to sort by type of material as well as browse by grade level and subject area. There are over 170 math-related lesson plans housed on this site.
United States Mint Lesson Plans
This site uses U.S. coins to teach basic math and counting. Each lesson plan has been contributed by teachers and includes grade level and national standards information.
This site provides lesson plans for most subject areas and includes links to other informational sources that can be drawn upon to create original lesson plans. The extensive listings about multicultural holidays and current events are especially useful.
Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is a not-for profit organization dedicated to providing information and education to help children and teens navigate media and technology. Their site provides a collection of cross-curricular lesson plans that address digital literacy and citizenship for students in grades K-12. The lesson plans are free, research-based, and aligned to the Common Core State, International Society of Technology Education, and American Association of School Librarians Standards. Topics covered are: Internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communication, cyberbullying, digital footprint and reputation, self-image and identity, information literacy, and creative credit and copyright.
Developed by the National Endowment for Humanities and other sources, this site contains links to 49 of the "top humanities sites" and lesson plans in the areas of history, English and language arts, foreign languages and art history. It also includes learning guides that provide tips for using sites for designing class curricula and activities. Sites are searchable.
Gooru’s goal is to provide an open and collaborative learning community online that honors the human right to education. Their focus is on making available free K-12 educational materials that help students to succeed. Through Gooru, educators can find interactive materials for instruction that are standards-aligned. They can share personalized, custom collections keyed to the needs of their students. Students’ performance can be measured through collections and quizzes they have been assigned. Interactive lessons are available in the disciplines of science, math, the social sciences, and language arts. Common-Core Standards are available for math instruction from grades 6 to 12. Lessons are also available from a number of partner libraries, which are accessible directly through the Gooru site.
Curriculum Development Library (accessible to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This searchable database of curricula, frameworks, and standards brings together educational objectives, content, instructional strategies, and evaluative techniques for all subjects covered in PreK-12 and Adult Basic Education. The index covers from 1983 to the present, with full-text access to documents from Edition 20 (2001) to the present.
Lesson Plan Library
The Lesson Plans Library site contains lessons for grades K-12 in common and not so common subjects. Plans range in subject from literature and math to forensic science and meteorology. Written by teachers and educators for teachers, these lesson plans are both comprehensive and easy to follow. Most plans define what national academic standards the lesson plans meet. In addition to providing a plethora of lesson plans, this site is also linked to several other "teaching tools" from The Discovery Channel.
Lesson Plans Page
This page allows for easy searching for specific lesson plans by subject (math, science, language arts, and art), grade level, and area within the subject searched. While this site contains lesson plans for K-12 grades, it does have a concentration of plans for K-6 grades. Includes an extensive selection of lesson plans for math, science, language arts, and art, especially for the lower grades.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has teacher-created, classroom-tested lesson plans on United States social studies, geography, science, sports and recreation, journalism, and literature, among other subjects. All of the lesson plans use primary sources that can be found at the Library of Congress and are provided with each lesson plan. Lesson plans can be searched by topic or by era (The American Revolution, 1763-1783, Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900, Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945, etc.). Grades 3-12 are targeted, with lesson plans having recommended grade levels of 3-8, 6-8, 6-12, or 9-12. State standards can be found by searching within each lesson plan for state, grade, and subject.
Peace Corps WorldWise Schools Lesson
Based on lessons used by teachers in the Peace Corps, provides over 100 standards-based lesson plans. Different concepts and subjects are illustrated using examples from regions and cultures. Searchable by grade level, region/country, and subject area.
Education Lesson Plans
The Smithsonian Institution has many resources for educators, including hundreds of lesson plans in all subject areas and grades from preK-12. Lesson plans are searchable by subject and by grade level and each lesson plan includes all of the materials needed (photographs, handouts, suggested strategies, reproductions, activities, standards information, and additional online resources). Lesson plans are created around an inquiry-based learning model and make extensive use of primary sources and museum artifacts.
Teacher.Net Lesson Bank
This lesson bank is interactive and allows for both retrieval and submission of lesson plans by teachers. The site allows several searching strategies for locating lessons on various subjects and in various grade levels. One can search by subject area or education level, or search or browse the lesson bank by keyword. Some lessons are available directly online, but others must be requested from the teacher who submitted the lesson plan. All lessons include a direct link to the author/submitter of the plan.
United States Department of Agriculture
This website, produced by the nation’s experts in the field of agriculture, includes nearly 200 lesson plans for grades K-12 on all aspects of agriculture and agricultural history. Most lessons focus on facets of the American agricultural system, however there are several lessons on agriculture around the world. Lesson plans include science experiments, Web Quests, introductions to careers in agriculture, and agriculture as an aspect of the global economy. The lesson plans are listed in alphabetical order by title with the intended grade level for each lesson listed on the right.
The Concord Consortium
The Concord Consortium is a non-profit educational research and development organization based in Massachusetts. The STEM resource finder on the Consortium’s site provides free, open source educational activities, software, and models for teaching STEM subjects to elementary school through college students. The resources are keyword-searchable and allow users to browse by subject and grade level. Also includes a tool to find activities and models that adhere to the Next Generation Science Standards.
eGFI is a website provided by the American Society for Engineering Education, and it contains engineering lesson plans and class activities for K-12 teachers. Lessons and activities incorporate engineering concepts to teach math and science skills. The site also provides a list of engineering and technology outreach programs and web resources for teachers and students.
Provides environmental games appropriate for children in grades 4-6 such as game shows, crossword puzzles, word searches and matching endangered species. Also contains teacher resources and lesson plans on the environment and science.
Spanning back to the beginning of recorded history, this comprehensive website provides everything you have ever wanted to know about food: history, law and regulation, inventions, nutrition, and historic cookbooks/recipes to name a few. Also included are lesson plans, a food reference guide, and a list of libraries and museums that specialize in food.
Teaching Earth Science: Classroom Activities and Lesson
This website provides a range of lesson plans based on geography, geology, astronomy, and other earth sciences using maps, satellite images, and other projections. Also provides links to current topics in the earth sciences.
Includes a collection of more than one hundred engineering-related lesson plans for students ages 8-18. Each plan provides a lesson focus, synopsis, target age levels, learning objectives, learner outcomes, activities, materials, and alignments to curriculum frameworks. Lesson plan topics include mazes, search engines, sorting, decision trees, periscopes, tennis, and more.
This site, administered by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides educational resources in areas like Biology, Geography, Geology, and Water. Resources are arranged by grade level. While some links are not strictly lesson plans, many of the resources listed on this site can be incorporated in the classroom as a supplement to an existing Earth Science curriculum.
Compiled by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), this page provides lesson plans for teachers who wish to teach about issues such as war, patriotism, peace, and tolerance.
American Memory Lesson Plans
Uses photographs from the Library of Congress American Memory Historical Collection to enhance lessons that are based on topics from our nation's past. A few examples of lessons include: the Civil War, the Dust Bowl, Baseball Cards, Inventions, and many more.
The Civil War Curriculum
The Civil War Curriculum page offers links to lesson plans related to the American Civil War for students from elementary to high school. Lesson plans include a complete outline, College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards, National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) standards, related resources, and downloadable content for each lesson. The entire Civil War Curriculum can also be downloaded by registering for free with the Civil War Trust.
Digital Cultural Heritage
Community Curriculum Units
The Digital Cultural Heritage Community Project contains links to curriculum units supplied by 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers. Units on communities, the U.S. Constitution, the French in Illinois, and Westward Expansion are just a few of the topics you will find covered here.
This extensive historical website provides resources for teachers who want to make learning about history interesting and exciting. Key features include an interactive timeline, online textbook, and history reference room. There are also resource guides, lesson plans, and classroom handouts.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Education
This resource contains in-depth lesson plans about various aspects of economics, including employment growth, income taxes, and supply and demand. Additionally, the website offers a podcast series called The Economic Lowdown which gives students easily understandable explanations and real-world examples of economic and finance principles. Resources and activities for both students and teachers can be found in the left sidebar of the website.
Federal Reserve Education
This website, maintained by the United States Federal Reserve, contains numerous K-12 and college lesson plans and publications on subjects such as banking, economics, government, money, and personal finance. Resources can be searched by grade level, topic, and type of resource. There is a Classroom Resources tab under which educators can find lesson plans, publications, activities, tours and programs, and academic competitions. Additionally, students can find games, fun facts, competitions, and quizzes under the Public Resources tab.
Historic Maps in K-12
Designed "specifically to support basic map and information acquisition skills at the K-12 levels," this website provides lesson plans based on 18 different maps. Divided into six different themes, each map contains several lessons for grades K-12.
The National Archives Experience: Docs Teach
Provides activities and over 3,000 primary source documents from the United States National Archives for use in the classroom. Users can find digitized primary source written documents, images, maps, charts, graphs, audio, and video that span the course of American history. Users can also find ready-to-use activities, or alter pre-existing activities to fit their needs.
National Council for the Social Studies
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) supports elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law. Their website includes K-12 lesson plans, as well as links to a host of additional resources. Lesson plans focus on current events or "teachable moments," as well as historical events
National History Education Clearinghouse (NHEC)
Teachinghistory.org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and the Stanford University History Education Group have created the Clearinghouse with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible.
Smithsonian's History Explorer
Based on items at the National Museum of American History, this website brings the museum's "collections and research into your classroom." In addition to the tour guides, there are plenty of lesson plans and classroom curriculum suggestions.
Teaching with Historic Places
Contains over 100 free middle school lesson plans in the areas of history, social studies, and geography. Lessons are based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places and include maps, readings, photographs, questions, and activities. Each plan is linked to national standards in the relevant subject area.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Prepared by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, this website provides a 133 page resource book for teachers entitled "How to Teach the Holocaust." There is also an annotated bibliography and a section of exemplary lesson plans.
There are three microfiche collections of curriculum guides In the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library (SSHEL) that may also be searched for lesson plans or other instructional materials. These are: the Kraus Curriculum Development Library, ERIC microfiche collection, and the American Primer collection. All microfiche are stored in Room 104, Main Library.
Kraus Curriculum Development Library
This microfiche collection of pre-K-12 curriculum guides covers a variety of subjects, including traditional areas (social sciences, mathematics, etc.) and other areas (Bilingual/English as a second language, special education, etc.). To search this collection, use the Kraus Curriculum Development Library Database. Curriculum guides added to the database since 2001 are available electronically. Older curriculum guides are available on microfiche in SSHEL.
Many ERIC documents on microfiche contain lesson plans and classroom materials. When searching the ERIC database, type your subject keyword and combine with the appropriate descriptor term(s) using the AND operator. EXAMPLE: mathematics and (lesson plans or problem sets). More descriptor terms can be found in the Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors (025.36 U5874t).The following is a list of possible descriptor terms that may be helpful:
American Primers Collection
To search the American Primers collection, find American Primers: a Guide to the Microfiche Collection, (MFICHE428.6 Am35 index). It is located in Room 104 on top of the microfiche cabinets. Although this microfiche collection is mainly used for finding old textbooks and reading primers, it has a limited number of teaching manuals (lesson plans, teaching methods, learning games and activities, teacher's guides to accompany primers) from the 1700's to the mid-1930s. It mostly contains introductory reading materials from that period, such as primers, spellers, and alphabet books. However, this may be a useful resource if you are searching for historical curriculum materials.