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Pros: Resources are plentiful, vetted, and well-organized, so teachers are sure to find something they can use right away.
Cons: There's a lot to unpack, and teachers will have to invest time to find the best lessons and strategies for their students long-term.
Bottom Line: Take advantage of the offerings of this professional community to improve the quality of your classroom instruction.
Take your time exploring BetterLesson to get a sense of all that it offers. Whether you're looking for lesson plans, units, teaching strategies, or coaching resources, you'll find it here. Lessons are organized by grade level, subject area, and standard, so if you're looking to teach your third graders about Earth's systems, for example, you'll find over 30 lessons, each one containing any number of resources that support the objectives. If you're looking more for strategies to improve your instructional practice, you'll find plenty of them arranged by type. For instance, a strategy to support students with special needs includes tips on how to implement a micro-grouping feedback protocol with your students. Another describes how to collaborate with colleagues to conduct learning walks. Teacher development is covered, too: Check out one or more of the 13 Professional Learning Domains for ideas on topics such as student-centered learning and culturally responsive teaching.
It's best to visit BetterLesson with some ideas about what you're looking for; since there's so much information available, going in just to browse can send time-strapped teachers down a rabbit hole. That said, the inherent usefulness of the site coupled with its commitment to collaboration and well-known best practices make it a go-to for both new and veteran teachers or instructional leaders.
BetterLesson is a website with free searchable lesson plans, strategies, activities, and professional learning for educators. The scope of the site is massive: Thousands of lessons covering dozens of topics are organized by grade level and subject area. Add to that the plethora of instructional strategies and professional learning resources, and it's a one-stop shop supporting better classroom instruction.
One key aspect of BetterLesson is its Master Teachers mentor program. Master Teachers are highly qualified teachers from across the U.S. who create and share ready-to-use ELA, science, math, and blended topic lessons and units. Teachers can search the exemplary lessons by keyword, learning domain, standard, subject, grade level, or author. BetterLesson also recently partnered with Newsela, providing access to over 100 literacy strategies shared by Newsela-certified educators. There's a consistent structure to the design of each Master Teacher lesson: Objective, Purpose, Guiding the Learning, Independent Learning, and Closing the Loop. Lessons also include links to standards, suggested timing, detailed procedures, resources, related lessons, and feedback. Lessons and strategies appear in order of which have received the most favorites from other users, and teachers can create an account to curate a list of their own favorites. For a more personalized experience, teachers may consider reaching out to the developer for pricing for consultations with one of the more than 60 instructional coaches who provide individual-, school-, or district-level support.
Full Disclosure: BetterLesson and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.
With so many resources available online, piecing them together into effective lessons can be a challenge. Because BetterLesson's resources are so structured and its contributors so heavily vetted, it's much easier for teachers to find materials here that will positively impact student learning. Many of the exemplar lessons are interdisciplinary and encourage critical thinking. For example, a set of lessons guides students through a comparative analysis of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" speech and Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise." This kind of work engages students and encourages higher-order thinking about issues related to civil rights. Note, however, that while it's easy to search for lessons, not all will be easy to teach individually, because many come in sets.
Even if you don't use entire lessons or units, there are many other high-quality resources from which to choose. Teachers looking to improve their craft will find the Professional Learning, Blog, and Instructional Coaching sections of the site particularly useful. Topics like Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning or Mastery-Based Progressions guide teachers toward bringing out the best in their students and themselves. Taken all together, the site's features create just the kind of collaborative community that can help support the profession and drive student achievement.