The success of each lesson, and by extension, student learning, depends on careful and deliberate planning on the part of the teacher. In planning for both daily as well as long-range instruction, an effective teacher must be able to identify essential learning outcomes that align with local, state, and national standards, develop interesting and innovative lessons that enable students to meet these curricular objectives, and prepare activities in such a way that will engage all students regardless of individual abilities, learning styles, or needs. A good teacher will utilize appropriate lesson models and instructional strategies with regards to both the content to be conveyed as well as knowledge of her class as a diverse student population. Considering the wide range of student interests and abilities, a teacher must also thoughtfully select and implement suitable differentiation strategies, course materials, and learning resources, (including technology that enhances understanding). A teacher’s ability to effectively plan, organize, and prepare for teaching provides the essential foundation for all other aspects of the educational process.

When I sit down to plan a unit of instruction, I begin by identifying and utilizing appropriate curriculum standards in order to specify my learning objectives (both academic and skill-oriented) for students. These learning objectives, accompanied by general goals and essential unit questions, provide a solid baseline for how I will then organize content into cohesive lesson plans. I make sure daily lesson objectives align to the larger unit objectives--and thus, the standards for learning--and then develop a plan for how I will convey the content in an engaging and creative way. Because students have a variety of learning styles, I try to vary my instructional strategies and materials in order to meet their diverse needs; I utilize a combination of collaborative learning (i.e. group projects and partner activities), discussion-based activities (such as socratic seminars and structured academic controversies), and direct instruction (including demonstrations and case studies) to reach the wide range of learners.


  • Executive Branch Unit Overview & Objectives
    This overview of my unit on the executive branch for U.S./VA Government demonstrates how I used appropriate state standards of learning, as well as national strands (developed by the National Council for the Social Studies), to develop and ensure alignment across my unit objectives, goals, and essential questions.

  • Executive Branch Unit Calendar
    My unit calendar for this executive branch unit likewise demonstrates not only further alignment between my unit objectives and daily lesson objectives, but also provides a sense of the various instructional strategies I utilized to meet the diverse needs of students, including graphic organizers, socratic seminars, case studies, writing activities, and projects.

  • Structured Academic Controversy Lesson Overview: Rationale, Differentiation Strategies & Materials
    This overview is for a structured academic controversy lesson I planned for an elective course entitled U.S. & World Affairs. This lesson is designed to introduce students to both the logistical and financial implications of U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by guiding them in identifying and discussing arguments on both sides of the issue. Within the overview, my rationale for this lesson explains how the structured academic controversy model is appropriate for this subject matter, and my differentiation strategies discuss ways the lesson is designed and could be modified for diverse learners. In addition, the materials I selected and worksheets I created are both appropriate and useful in helping students meet lesson objectives.

  • Technology-Enhanced Lesson on Political Socialization & Media Influence
    This lesson, part of a Media & Interest Groups unit for my U.S./VA Government class, demonstrates how I incorporate technology into my lessons to enhance content and provide additional opportunities for representing and obtaining knowledge. I engaged students in material by having them respond to a survey on how they develop their opinions through the use of personal response systems. Additionally, the second part of the lesson consisted of a WebQuest in which students analyzed various news sources for political bias and slant using a graphic organizer to guide them. The use of technology in this lesson facilitated knowledge construction by making the content more relevant and hands-on.

Competencies for Ability to Plan, Organize, and Prepare for Teaching

  • Plan lessons that align with local, state, and national standards
  • Select instructional strategies, materials, and resources to use that are responsive to diverse student needs and appropriate for the subject matter
  • Effectively integrate technology into your lessons