What makes a great lesson? Innovation? Yes, but sometimes the most straightforward lessons, well taught, are the best. Collaboration? Sure, but some kids do best working on their own, at their own pace, with help from you. Dramatic delivery? That can work, but the bells and whistles can get in the way of a clear concept. The best lessons, quite simply, can be taught by any teacher, in any classroom, and they don’t follow a script or a template, but are the result of an engaged teacher communicating something that resonates, and sticks, with his or her students.

Below, we take a look at some amazing lessons taught by seven State Teachers of the Year, as named by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a nonprofit that works to amplify the voices of teachers to affect state and national policy. The lessons range from a letter-learning dress-up party to an environmental project for third graders involving chocolate (!) to a STEM lesson challenging fifth graders to create models of tornado-resistant structures. We hope you enjoy reading about these teachers as much as we enjoyed talking to them about their great lessons!