Model Lesson Plans to Build Teacher Capacity in Promoting Deeper Learning Through Formative Assessment

In this series of resources, we provide exemplar lesson plans for use in middle school English language arts, history, science, and mathematics. We encourage teachers to adapt these materials for use in their own contexts.




Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), students must be provided with opportunities to meet challenging academic standards that prepare them to graduate high school with the skills to think critically, analyze complex problems, work collaboratively, and direct their own learning. The model lessons presented here are intended to help teachers develop and implement such opportunities for deeper learning. The lessons serve as examples of how disciplinary thinking and practices can translate to concrete tasks and culminating activities in the classroom.


These model lessons exemplify the use of formative assessment, whereby students’ content understanding and competencies with disciplinary practices are continuously assessed and the resulting data used to revise instruction. Developed through the lens of the formative assessment process, each lesson is anchored by challenging academic standards and opportunities are embedded throughout instruction to collect information about students’ progress toward the standards.


ESSA recognizes that effective professional development programs must be “sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom focused.” One important aspect of sustaining an ongoing, classroom-based professional learning initiative is the availability of high quality curricular materials for teachers to analyze, adapt, implement, and subsequently revise.


ELA & History Lesson Plans

These lesson plans for grades 6-8 utilize a multiple documents approach to reading informational text. The same format has been applied to both contemporary informational text as well as historical inquiries. Students read two or more short, primary source documents about a topic. The focus of the lessons is on reading documents with sourcing, corroborating, and close reading as the primary analytical strategies, with each lesson ending in a culminating writing task that is supported by a graphic organizer reading guide.


Science & ELA Lesson Plans

Based on mostly grade 8 Science and ELA standards, this series of lessons focuses on matter and chemical reactions, and applies this knowledge to understanding the colors of fireworks. Each lesson contains teacher instructions, links to online materials (e.g., informational texts, videos), opportunities for formative assessment, and student worksheets.



Math Lesson Plans

The math lessons below are based on grade 8 math standards for graphing proportional relationships. The structure resembles an exercise routine. Similar to a routine, students are given progressively more challenging tasks to complete. Teachers help “spot” their students in this process via probing questions. Emphasis is placed on students’ progress towards a learning goal instead of score on the task. In this process, rich information or evidence is gathered about students’ understanding of key concepts. Teachers are also given support in analyzing this evidence, providing feedback to their students, and determining instructional next steps.

Each lesson is grouped into six tasks, and the lesson materials for each task include an introduction for the teacher, presentation slides, student worksheets, and answer keys. Student worksheets are in three parts: Mind Stretch, Workout, and Final Lift. See the Math Lessons Overview document for information on formative assessment and how the tasks were developed.

Math Task 2: By the Pound

Math Task 3: Better Job

Math Task 5: Slippery Slope

Math Task 6: Chirping Crickets



This work was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

For additional resources on standards implementation and formative assessment, see CSAI’s Curriculum and Instruction series.

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