Solid lesson planning is a key element in providing students with an effective learning experience. Although preparing a lesson plan presents teachers with the opportunity to exercise creative freedom, there are several universal principles that should guide a successful plan. Below you will find five key elements to creating an effective lesson plan that will help you deliver a highly focused, engaging lesson to your students.
Each lesson plan should contain the following:
1. State Learning Standards- In all states there is a strong emphasis on aligning curriculum and classroom instruction with the established state learning standards. It is important to clearly indicate within your lesson plan the specific state standards that will be covered in your lesson.
2. Learning Objective– This section of your lesson plan should identify what the student should be able to do by the end of the lesson. For example, I teach United States History, so we may be covering the Bill of Rights in a given class. A learning objective would be, “Students will be able to list, describe, and interpret the first five amendments to the United States Constitution.” This is more specific than a learning goal in that objectives tend to be focused on a particular outcome, while goals are more global and general.
3. Teaching Materials– Here you should list any of the learning materials that teachers may provide their students, along with any materials that your students are expected to bring with them. Some examples of what you may provide students are textbooks, markers, workbooks, worksheets, and graphic organizers. Materials that students are typically required to bring are pencils, notebooks, paper, binders, and folders.
4. Instructional Strategies– Here you should list the specific instructional strategies that you will be using in your class lesson. Much of this will depend on the type of students that you’re teaching and what kind of learning needs those students may present. As a middle school teacher, I’ve learned that my advanced students really respond well to cooperative learning opportunities, so I may incorporate the turn and talk method, KWL, or the Jigsaw method more in their classes. At the same time, many of my struggling students tend to respond more effectively to structured, explicit instruction, so I may incorporate the use of graphic organizers, CLOZE, and think aloud more in that context.
5. Teaching Activities– Here is where you should lay out the framework for your entire class lesson. Most teachers begin the class with a bell-ringer activity, which is a 5 minute review or warm-up assignment that students can complete as they transition into class. This activates prior knowledge and also gives the teacher time to take attendance and prepare materials. Next, I would recommend explicit instruction, which should include a connection to previous day’s work, stating the new learning objective, providing your students with clear directions, modeling new skills, and teaching new materials. After this I usually provided guided practice, where the students and teacher both work together on a problem, concept, or new information. Once the guided instruction time is finished, I provide students with time to work cooperatively or independently on the classroom assignment. Much depends on the type of assignment that we are working on that day. Finally, we conclude class time with review, re-teaching, and a form of assessment (mostly informal questioning, though we may utilize worksheets, textbooks, etc.) Homework is usually posted at the beginning of class, so I may use this time to quickly reference the homework assignment and answer any final questions.
Additional Lesson Plan Information
It is good practice to include the following elements in your lesson plan, even if they are listed as supplemental information.
Evaluation/Assessment Tool- Indicate what specific tool you will be using to evaluate student achievement. Some use a combination of common, formal, and informal assessments. Examples of these are teacher made quizzes, pre and post tests, worksheets, and standardized tests.
Special Education/ESL Accommodation- In most states it is required that teachers provide certain learning accommodations to students who have IEP’s. The IEP will spell out the learning needs and accommodations that are required. This is also true for ESL students. Each school should have staff that work specifically with these students and have been trained in these respective educational fields. It is important that teachers work cooperatively with these colleagues in order to ensure that lesson plans reflect federal mandated accommodations and modifications.
Practice/Homework- I like to list the homework assignments a week in advance if possible. This demonstrates strategic planning and also serves to inform instruction as you move forward with your classroom objectives.