One of the most critical tools for student education is the teacher-designed lesson plan. Whether it’s a school administrator or a teacher, knowing how to assemble an effective lesson plan provides amazing benefits. A lesson plan, in concert with a well written syllabus, serves as a road map to help drive student success. Plus, it’s a great way to ensure you have efficient and productive classes. Countless resources exist online, can vary greatly from teacher-to-teacher, and even depend on feedback from school administrators. The options and choices can be pretty overwhelming- but don’t let that discourage you!
Regardless of what your lesson plan looks like, how you approach your lesson plan is equally important. All lesson plans are built on a solid foundation and structure to ensure your students get the most out of every class. That foundation is a set of key principles that share remarkable similarities across all formats. So even though each person’s lesson plan might look different, you can use the same guiding principles to help you. We’ve broken the key principles into a set of questions. Ask yourself these five questions, and you’re well on your way to creating a great lesson plan each and every time. Also, if you decide to use this as your plan, we’ve put recommended section titles in parentheses.
What are the ideal outcomes?
Your lesson plan should open with the objectives and standards. Essentially this section answers the question, what should your students learn when the lesson plan is completed? Make sure that your objectives are specific and measurable, so you will be able to determine if the plan was a success. Once completed, all of the objectives in your lesson plan should be an outline for each step in the course.
Need more help writing better objectives? Check out this resource from Boston University
Where should I start?
During the course of your lesson plan creation, you will need to assess what your students likely know about the concepts you are presenting before coming into the classroom. You will need to determine where your students are academically so you can set realistic goals as to how you expect them to engage with the new lesson plan and objectives laid forth in it. You can even take this step ahead of time, by assessing their knowledge at the end of the previous class. Determine what tools you will use for this pre-assessment such as quizzing the students on concepts, holding a question and answer session, or having students assess their knowledge after each lesson.
What will I do?
Once you have established your goals and objectives and determined what background knowledge your students currently possess, it is time to get into the meat of your lesson plan- the instruction. The instruction portion of your lesson plan consists of five distinct sections:
- A set of instructions to focus the student’s attention
- Background information
- Direct instruction
- Guided practice
You will need to determine how much time will be devoted to each section of instruction as well. Try to honor these time constraints! Avoid planning to the minute. It isn’t a realistic option if you intend to follow this schedule, and can help more than hurt your teaching. Interruptions can and do occur during class, and you should plan your schedule accordingly.
What will the students do?
The next step is determining how the students will apply their learning. You will need to decide what assignments will aid students in reinforcing their skills, whether it be independent work during class, or outside homework and projects.
Need some help planning your assignments? Here’s a great resource to get you going!
What resources do I need to make this happen?
You will want to include a section that outlines the materials and technology that you will need to deliver the instruction effectively. This can include computers and auxiliary devices, videos, textbooks, handouts, workbooks, and presentation materials. If you’re not sure what to add, use your “Instruction” and “Assignments” section as check lists.
How did I do?
After creating your lesson plan, determine a way you will assess whether or not the plan was successful, and determine if your students learned the objectives that were required. Don’t forget, this can be an opportunity next lesson’s Pre-Assessment.
Teachers are faced with countless surprises and challenges on a daily basis. No one class is ever the same! But, if you start every class with a solid lesson plan, it will consistently help you (and your students) achieve higher levels of success.