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Exceptional Children and Youth

Pre-Service Teacher Basics

"Standards" vs. "Curriculum" vs. "Lesson Plan":

What is the difference?

Many pre-service teachers get confused by these terms. Let's explore what each one means.

Standards are the overriding, general concepts each student should master by the end of the year based on grade level. They are set on a state or national level. Common Core standards are national standards currently used in Tennessee for math and English language arts goals. The state of Tennessee has established the standards for other subjects including science and social studies.

Curriculum refers to the the more specific goals developed to achieve the standards, essentially breaking the standards down into more tangible goals. For curriculum, a timeframe is assigned to the completion of the individual goals. Pacing guides and scope & sequence are two examples of curriculum plans. For an example, take a look at Rutherford County's middle school curriculum resources:

Lesson Plans are the step-by-step daily plans teachers use to convey these concepts. While lesson plan templates will vary, they should all include the same basic information:

  • Lesson Overview
  • Standards
  • Learning Targets/Objectives
  • Activating Strategy
  • Instruction
  • Modifications/Grouping
  • Materials/ Resources/ Technology
  • Assessment/ Evaluation/ Closure

Here is a blank template you can use in writing lesson plans: 

And here is a sample lesson plan: 

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