7 Components of an Effective Classroom Lesson Plan
Whether you’re a regular classroom teacher or teach in a specific content area, lesson plans matter. The quality of your lesson plans will in great part determine how efficiently class time is used and how much content your students learn each period.
Lesson plans don’t have to be lengthy. The main thing is to make sure they contain the main elements of the lesson. They’re meant to guide your instruction so you can make maximum use of your classroom time.
An effective lesson plan has the following components:
What will you need to teach this lesson? This includes student supplies as well as your own. Don’t forget about technology such as your doc cam and laptop.
Make sure you have everything you’ll need so you’re ready to roll when your students arrive.
You don’t want to be scrambling around in the middle of a lesson trying to locate the protractors which you thought were in that bottom cabinet, only to realize at the last minute that they’re not there.
Having your resources lined up ahead of time saves valuable class time and gives you great peace of mind. When your materials are in place, you can devote all of your energy to teaching the lesson.
Your materials list may look something like this:
Materials: lined paper, pencils, rulers, Kagan chips, doc cam, laptop
What exactly do you want your students to be able to do by the end of the lesson? This should be clearly communicated to your students orally at the very beginning of the lesson.
Some teachers write their lesson objective on the board as a frame of reference for both students and themselves.
Communicating the learning objective to your students both verbally and in writing makes it easier to stay on target throughout the lesson. The objective should be the ongoing focus of your lesson!
Your objective should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Sample SMART Objective:
Students will complete a Venn diagram to compare two Spanish-speaking cultures, with five common characteristics and five characteristics specific to each culture.
3. Set the Stage
This is where you can really “sell” your lesson by getting your students excited about what you’re going to teach them!
Tap into students’ prior knowledge to prepare them for new content you’re about to introduce.
For example, if you’re about to present a lesson on using metaphors and similes in writing, start out by discussing what makes a story engrossing to a reader.
Involve your students in the discussion by asking them to share out their thoughts based on gripping stories they’ve read.
Some responses you may get are: “interesting characters”, “interesting plot”, “suspense”, “ability to relate to the characters or plot.”
This discussion will lead right into using metaphors and similes as additional ways to make a story captivating to readers.
4. Direct Instruction
This is the “meat” of your lesson plan. It’s where you present the new concept which is included in the lesson objective.
Speak clearly and concisely. Less is more as long as you stay on topic.
Model, Model, Model.
Use the board or doc cam as you model what you’re teaching. If it involves a process, show the process. Speak aloud as you model through the entire process, explaining each step as you go along.
After modeling a few examples on your own, involve your students in a few additional examples using the board or doc cam. They will gain confidence as they go through the process with you!
5. Guided Practice
After you’ve presented the new concept, modeled examples, and involved your class in a few additional ones, your students are ready for guided practice.
This is where they get to apply the new concept independently and/or in cooperative activities.
Kagan Cooperative Learning, by Dr. Spencer Kagan, is an excellent teacher resource for how to group your students for cooperative learning activities, how to ensure that each student has a defined role and is participating equally within their group, and how to assess student performance. (Make sure you get the updated 2009 edition.)
Circulate the room to check for understanding as students work. Pause to clarify as needed.
If you notice an area where many students are confused or struggling, stop and address this particular point with the entire class.
If necessary, go back and model a few additional examples, followed by additional guided practice. You want to make sure your students are applying the concept correctly rather than practicing mistakes.
This is where you “wrap it up.” It’s a quick synopsis of the lesson.
You may want to ask students to pair share or to share out something they learned that period, or to provide an example of the concept taught. Keep it short and sweet.
Example: “Today we learned about metaphors and similes. Tell your partner one example of a simile and one example of a metaphor.”
7. Demonstration of Learning (D.O.L.)
This is how you as a teacher evaluate whether or not your students met your lesson objective.
The D.O.L. should always be completed independently. It should take most students no longer than five minutes to finish, and can be a simple written activity such as a quiz (many teachers call these “exit tickets”).
Make sure the D.O.L. accurately reflects the learning objective and allows your students to apply what they learned during the lesson.
The purpose of the D.O.L. is to provide you with valuable feedback which should drive your instruction.
Student performance on the D.O.L. tells you if you need to go back and reteach the same lesson the following day, or if your students are ready to move on to the next lesson.
Lesson Plans provide you and your students with a clear sense of direction in the classroom. Remember that they don’t have to be extensive, drawn out plans. They are meant to guide and assist you in maximizing classroom time.
Don’t forget to use humor as you teach. A sense of humor goes a long way in keeping students engaged in the classroom!
What Makes a Teacher Great?
© 2016 Geri McClymont
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