Daniel Merrier is an educational writer with first-hand experience in early childhood education.
What is a Lesson Plan?
A lesson plan is a guide an instructor uses to teach curriculum effectively. It is an important tool in guiding students to learn, retain, and apply information. A well-developed lesson plan will follow the best practices for one's educational field and will adapt to the students being taught.
There are three main components to a lesson plan:
- Learning Objectives: Develop relevant, definable learning objectives.
- Teaching Activities: Deliver high-impact learning experiences that help students retain information.
- Final Assessment: Assess the content learned in a reflective and helpful manner.
With these key factors in mind, let's get to planning!
A well-developed lesson plan will follow the best practices for one's educational field and will adapt to the students being taught.
Preparing to Write a Lesson Plan
Most teachers and instructors develop their own lesson plans and revise them as educational mandates and their classrooms shift and grow. Others adapt lesson plans found online, or those made by their co-workers, to meet the needs of their students. The hallmark of a good lesson plan is one that works for you and your classroom.
- Understand Your Students Understanding what your students want and need from a lesson is the most vital consideration when preparing a lesson plan. Every classroom varies widely, and as an instructor, you must be prepared to meet the needs of each individual student and each class as a whole.
- Set Realistic Goals Educators, especially those working in a public school system, often have little time and resources to teach students. It's important for instructors to make realistic goals for their lesson plans so they can meet their objectives.
- Make Learning Accessible A classroom is full of all kinds of students. Some may have learning disabilities while others may naturally excel in your subject area. Be sure to provide a variety of activities to accommodate all learners. This can include using both visual and audio elements in your presentation as well as ensuring access to large-print or high-contrast materials when needed.
- Emphasize Peer-to-Peer Participation Every student has a voice that deserves to be heard. Every child has a unique background and perspective that brings something new to your classroom. Group projects, class discussions, and peer assessments are also excellent ways to integrate more peer interaction into any classroom.
- Make Information Retainable Education should last a lifetime. Different students have different needs to retain what they've learned.
Step One: Develop Learning Objectives
Developing learning objectives is the first step in creating an effective lesson plan. They guide the material you will teach and allow your students to know what they are expected to learn.
- Be clear and direct. On paper and in person, make it well-known what you are planning to teach. While having an outline is helpful, it's important to focus your time and energy on the most important content.
- Make your content relatable. It's a question that is almost inevitable: "When are we going to use this?" If at all possible, relate your lesson back to recent events or other interests.
- Link objectives back to larger goals and previous knowledge. Lessons are typically part of a unit plan or larger project. If you're building on previous knowledge, be sure to re-iterate this in your current lesson.
Examples of Learning Objectives
Contrast feudal Europe and feudal Japan.
Contrast the economic systems of feudal Europe and feudal Japan.
By the end of this lesson, the student will be able to contrast the key differences between the economic systems of feudal Europe and feudal Japan.
Examples of Varied Learning Activities
|Auditory Learning||Visual Learning||Hands-on Learning|
Lectures, videos, presentations, discussions/debates
Diagrams, videos, presentations
Concept mapping, games, reflective journaling, feedback
Step Two: Create Teaching Activities
- Focus on creating engaging material. There is only so much pizazz you can be expected to put in a PowerPoint, but that doesn't mean teaching has to be boring. When using multimedia presentations (like PowerPoint, Prezi, or PowToon) include a variety of content. Mix spoken word with visual language, as well as example images and when possible, short video clips.
- Use more than one instruction method. Students learn differently and it's important to nurture all types of learners.
- Allow practice assignments to be low-pressure activities. Don't allow your students' first hands-on experience with material to be high-pressure or graded assignments. Many people learn through trial and error and may need a few opportunities to fully grasp the material.
- If applicable, guide students on notetaking. Not every student has previous knowledge or experience on proper notetaking or studying habits. Letting your students know what information is important to write and what isn't can be helpful not only in retaining the current information being presented, but also a valuable tool for their future educational pursuits.
Step Three: Assess Learned Content
- Use more than one assessment. While conventional testing methods are important for the grade book, they aren't always the best indicator of a student's knowledge. Allow your students to display their knowledge in a variety of ways.
- Make assessments productive as well as reflective. Assessments are most effective when they provide productive feedback that allows the student to grow.
- Allow room for improvement. Your students will keep learning even after the lesson is done. Their knowledge and skills will likely improve after subsequent lessons and practice. Make sure to leave room in your lesson plans to re-test concepts in a chapter or unit test.
Public, Private, and Homeschool Teaching
Whether you teach public, private, or homeschool, developing a proper lesson plan is an essential step to educating your young students.
Considerations for Public Schools
- School-wide or school system mandates on curriculum
- Potentially more varied learners
- Larger classroom sizes
- State and national testing
Considerations for Private Schools
- Less access to government support
- More support and resources for individual students
Considerations for Homeschooling
- Less mandated testing
- More difficult to find educational materials
- Smaller groups of peers and co-workers
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Dani Merrier