For over a decade, my relationship with lesson plans has been quite a journey, resembling a rollercoaster ride. I was first introduced to the concept of lesson plans during my college education courses. My professors emphasized their significance, highlighting how they provide teachers with a structured framework and a sense of accountability, ensuring preparedness for daily classroom instruction. I learned that lesson plans serve as a means to break down a comprehensive curriculum into manageable daily segments, encompassing learning objectives, instructional strategies, assessment methods, and more.
Throughout my education classes, I was assigned the task of crafting lesson plans that aligned with the lessons I was developing. However, it was not until I began implementing these lesson plans in the actual classroom that my perception of them underwent a profound transformation. It was through firsthand experience that I came to recognize their invaluable role as essential tools, rather than mere mundane tasks.
To aid in writing lesson plans effectively and professionally, I have compiled ten quick and straightforward tips:
USE A lesson plan TEMPLATE
Writing daily lesson plans will take you half as much time when you use a template. The template must work for you. It should fit well with your classroom content, your teaching style, and your planning style. Depending on the lesson, you may even be able to duplicate specific pieces from a previous lesson plan.
Download my free lesson plan template at the end of this post to see if what I use will work for you!
Keep it simple
Be clear, concise and straightforward. Lesson plans should be in bulleted form with sentences kept short and sweet. In fact, there do not need to be many full sentences at all. It is best practice to keep your lesson plan down to one page in length.
Check out some of my free lesson plan samples at the end of this post for inspiration.
Crafting a comprehensive lesson plan is a vital aspect of effective teaching, but it is crucial to bear in mind that its audience extends beyond your own eyes. Lesson plans undergo scrutiny from various individuals, including administrators, fellow educators, and occasionally even parents of your students. Depending on the school’s policies, administrators may mandate weekly submission of lesson plans, review them during formal or informal observations, or discuss them during department meetings.
a plan is Just a plan
As teachers, we are well acquainted with the fact that while some things go according to plan, many others do not. The unpredictability of the classroom is a familiar concept to us. A laboratory experiment might exceed the expected timeframe, students could breeze through a quiz quicker than expected, or a complex concept may require additional resources to enhance student understanding. It is important to annotate the essential adjustments directly on your lesson plan and implement the revisions before the start of the next school year.
Identify the Learning objective
Each lesson plan should be guided by a specific learning objective or an essential question. This is the learning goal that students should comprehend or be able to answer by the end of the lesson. Learning objectives and essential questions should be written as brief statements. For example, “How do we differentiate between the layers of the Earth?”
Plan Learning Activities
Specific learning activities should be planned and easily identifiable in each lesson. These activities should be sequenced in a logical, engaging and meaningful manner. Each activity should include a short description and an allotted time frame. Speaking of timing…
Create a realistic timeline
Some educators teach a 40-minute class five days a week. Others teach two 90-minute blocks two days a week. Your lesson plan must reflect the way in which your class is set up, with each individual activity set for an allotted amount of time.
For first-year teachers, this could be a daunting task. A question I am often asked is, “How do I know how long this will take my students?” Want to know a secret? Veteran teachers struggle with this as well. Each group of students is different, with unique abilities, skill sets and level of background knowledge. I recommend setting generous time frames when planning your lessons, with backup activities if students work faster than you anticipated. This is a great opportunity for differentiation in the classroom as well.
Daily evaluation of student understanding is crucial within the classroom. Utilize your lesson plans to determine when and how student learning will be assessed. Consider whether a formative or summative assessment is appropriate. For instance, you may choose to engage students with informal “popcorn” style questions during a PowerPoint presentation or assign them to work collaboratively in groups during a laboratory activity. To highlight these assessments, you can designate a dedicated section in your lesson plan or use a distinct color to indicate them.
Now is the time to align the appropriate standards to your learning objectives, activities and assessments. Once standards are aligned, add them into your lesson plan. For my science lessons, I use Next Generation Science Standards, which can be easily aligned using their website. Their quick search navigation tool allows educators to search for standards based on keywords, type of practice, grade level, crosscutting concept, disciplinary core idea and so on.
This is one of the most helpful sections of my lesson plans. At quick glance, I am able to gather all necessary materials for that particular day’s activities and labs without sifting through the activities themselves. This section will include the particular worksheets for that lesson, all materials needed for a lab, any website or video references that will be used that day, and so on.
How do you feel about writing lesson plans? Do you have additional tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them! Share in the comments below.