Geri McClymont holds an MEd and has taught various subjects to students in grades K-12 for over twenty years.
Whether you teach several subjects 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 maximize classroom time.
What Are the Components of an Effective Lesson Plan For All Grade Levels?
- Necessary Materials
- Clear Objectives
- Background Knowledge
- Direct Instruction
- Student Practice
- Demonstration of Learning (Quick Assessment)
1. Gather Your Materials
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 document camera and laptop.
Make sure you have everything situated 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 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 your energy to teaching the lesson.
Your materials list may look something like this:
- lined paper
- Kagan chips
- document camera
2. Know Your Class Objectives
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 and posted in a highly visible location in your classroom.
It's helpful to have a specific place in your room where you regularly post your objectives, and to have a set routine in terms of how you introduce the objectives, such as asking your students to read them aloud with you at the beginning of class each day.
Communicating the learning objectives to your students, both verbally and in writing, serves to motivate them to work with a clear purpose in mind, and it makes it easier for you and your students to stay on target throughout the lesson.
The objectives should be the ongoing focus of your lesson. Maximize your effort to create successful learning outcomes with SMART objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Sample SMART Objectives
By the end of the lesson, students will correctly underline and label the subject and predicate of sentences 8/10 times.
By the end of the lesson, students will glue fractions in the appropriate place on a number line 7/8 times.
By the end of the lesson, students will write six effects of the American Civil War with 80% accuracy.
3. Activate Background Knowledge
Set the stage by tapping into your students’ background knowledge – previous life experiences, prior learning, or both – to prepare them for the new concept you’re about to introduce.
The point is to make connections between what your students already know and what you're going to teach them. 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 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.”
Perhaps you have taught other forms of figurative language such as hyperboles and personification, earlier in the school year. Review these briefly. These discussions will lead right into your lesson of 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 that is included in the lesson objectives.
Prepare your students for success by pre-teaching key vocabulary words that are essential to understanding the concept or text you will introduce to them. When students know these key words in advance, they can focus more of their energy into learning the concept or understanding the text.
Speak clearly and concisely. Less is more as long as you stay on topic. Use the board or a document camera as you model what you’re teaching. If the lesson involves a process, then show the process. Speak aloud as you model through it, explaining each step as you go along.
Be sure to take your time. Modeling is a critical part of direct instruction. When students watch and listen to you apply the concept, they are much better able to understand what you're trying to teach them. It is important to model multiple examples of the concept you're introducing!
5. Student Practice
Student practice consists of 3 steps: guided practice, collaborative practice, and independent practice.
This 3-step process allows you to gradually release your students from watching you model the correct application of the concept to allowing them to apply the concept independently.
1. Guided Practice
After you’ve presented the new concept and modeled a few examples on your own, involve your students in a few additional examples using the board or document camera. They will gain confidence as they go through the process with you!
Converse with them through the process, questioning them when they offer their input, as you maintain your role as leader. At this point, they're still "under your wing" as you walk them through the process, but you're allowing them to participate in the process with you.
2. Collaborative Practice
This is where students get to apply the new concept in cooperative activities. This includes working with a partner, in small groups, or in larger groups.
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.
3. Independent Practice
Once students have had the opportunity to apply and practice the concept with their classmates through collaborative activities, it's time for them to apply and practice the concept on their own! This is where you can see if they really "got it."
Continue to circulate the room to check for understanding. You will notice which students have really grasped the concept and which students need you to take them a step back, offer more guided practice, and then gradually release them again to independent application of the concept.
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 (Quick Assessment)
The demonstration of learning (D.O.L.) assessment evaluates whether or not your students met your lesson objectives. It aims to provide you with valuable feedback which should drive your instruction. Make sure the D.O.L. accurately reflects the learning objectives and allows your students to apply what they learned during the lesson.
The D.O.L. should always be completed independently without any teacher assistance. It should take most students no longer than five to ten minutes to complete, and can be a simple written assignment. Some teachers call it an “exit ticket" to indicate that students must complete it before they exit the classroom.
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.
Keep in Mind
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're meant to guide and assist you in maximizing classroom time.
Avoid the urge to cram excessive amounts of information into one lesson. Remember that a lesson can be spread out into several days if necessary. Your students will thank you for not overwhelming them.
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?
We all know how challenging it can be to keep students engaged in the classroom. Here are some ways to maintain students' attention as we deliver our lessons.
Recommended for You
Include your English Language Learners
If you have English language learners in your classroom, be sure to use strategies to help them understand the concepts you teach. Many English language learners are reluctant to raise their hands in class when they don't understand something, because they don't want to stand out from their peers. So they will simply sit in class and pretend they "get it" when they really don't. Strategies that help English language learners succeed in the classroom are usually also effective for non-English learners, so using them is a win-win for all students!
If your school has the means, do more showing and less telling by embracing the advances of technology in the classroom. White boards and slideshow presentations will always serve their purpose, but there are plenty of new alternative presentation tools available to hook students. Use these tools to help bring your educational content to life.
Emaze is a popular online presentation software with an easy-to-use interface, learning aids, and the ability to create 3D presentations. It operates on the cloud system, so you can access and edit your presentations on pretty much any device with internet capability.
Apple Keynote is almost as popular as Microsoft Power Point when it comes to presentations, except that Keynote holds some clear advantages. Some of these advantages are the ability to fully utilize all its features on iPhones and iPads, the ability to sync presentations to iOS devices, and the ability to convert your presentation into a website. The photo and video integration is impressive as well.
3. Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck allows you to quickly make captivating graphs and charts to enhance your presentations. The fonts and layouts are made by designers around the world who have contributed to a library full of millions of common images available for public use.
Quick Introduction to Emaze
Motivated students always come to class ready to learn. Here are some ways to go about motivating your students:
- Develop meaningful relationships with your students. When your students know you care about them as individuals, they will be much more receptive to your instruction. Share personal stories to connect with them.
- Help spark intrinsic motivation by allowing students to make choices that affect their learning. Giving them a say in seating arrangements or allowing them to choose from a list of homework options as well as the form of a final project (poster, essay, etc.) are easy ways to do this.
- Encourage creativity in the classroom by allowing students the freedom to express themselves not only verbally and in writing, but also through artistic projects. When students are allowed to be creative, they feel validated for who they are, which builds their self-confidence and self-esteem.
A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.
— Brad Henry
Incorporate All Learning Styles
Getting to know your students will reveal to you that there are almost as many learning styles as there are different personalities. Knowing how to accommodate these different styles equips your students for success and gives them each a sense of belonging in the classroom. Below is a list of different learning styles, along with ways to engage students with these various modes of learning.
|Learning Style||Student Characteristics||How to Engage|
1. Visual Learner
May enjoy drawing and is probably very observant.
Include relevant charts, maps, diagrams, colors and other imagery in your lessons.
2. Auditory Learner
Has an ear for melodies and may be a singer.
Incorporate tones and voices in your delivery. Encourage students to read the material to themselves or record it if the environment permits.
3. Verbal Learner
May prefer word games, reading, and writing in general.
Are they introverted or outgoing? The former may prefer reading and writing while the latter might enjoy talking and presenting.
4. Logical / Mathematical Learner
Enjoys patterns, grouping, and research.
Incorporate classifications and categories to appease the logical learners' need for patterns and order.
5. Physical / Kinesthetic Learner
Hands-on learners can be rather energetic. They’re usually outgoing and may be resistant to reading and writing.
Use props and models in your lessons to make concepts tangible and easy to process. Encourage movement. It may be helpful to provide breaks.
Questions & Answers
Question: What are some methods for assessing listening comprehension?
Answer: One way to assess listening comprehension is to read a short passage aloud to students (without any visual aids), and then ask them to respond to multiple choice questions about the passage. Choose short passages you think your students will enjoy listening to. If you are testing students individually, you may want to offer them several passage options (about different topics), and allow them to choose one.
Another way to assess listening comprehension is to give students oral information and allow them to point to pictures or perform tasks in response to your directions. For example, you may describe what a person looks like and then ask students to point to the picture of the person you described.
Question: Do all my lessons have to be planned in the same way?
Answer: I recommend including the 7 components in all lesson plans as a basic framework to guide your lessons. Of course, your components will look different based on the content you teach. For example, your materials and objectives for a geometry lesson will likely be very different from those for a lesson on creative writing. The same goes for the type of background knowledge you activate, etc.
© 2016 Geri McClymont
2015322734 on August 10, 2020:
Thank you so much, this was of great help
Abby Slutsky from America on August 06, 2020:
Excellent article and very well organized.
Kauna on May 27, 2020:
Great , it is really helpful.
Farayola Philip on November 04, 2019:
The piece is concise and helpful.
Zainab Abdullahi on November 01, 2019:
This is a good one, and it’s very helpful. Thanks for keeping it simple.
Alberto Jorge Miguel on October 07, 2019:
Thanks. It was really helpful for me
Addisu Genene on August 16, 2019:
Really, i found it very interesting and I will be using it properly in planning my lesson.
ccpho mpumza on August 13, 2019:
it was useful thanks
Jann Cain on August 12, 2019:
I think time management is of the utmost importance in today's classroom. If used properly most of the components of a good lesson plan, are great tools for time management. If the teacher and the students have knowledge of what to expect from the lesson, the class period goes very smoothly.
Mounkaila Mala on August 06, 2019:
very important article,I really liked it.Thank you for helping us.
Saleem on May 24, 2019:
This is a great read for anyone in the teaching profession.
AHONLE MERCY. on May 19, 2019:
thanks, it was helpful to me in class.
Ramani Tekale on April 30, 2019:
Truly very helpful .... looking for more guidance.... thank you so much
Giesweet8 on April 30, 2019:
Thank you so much this is very helpful!
Zulaihat H.U on April 06, 2019:
it's good & exciting to learn from the grassroots, good job.
Vinni on April 06, 2019:
Robert on March 31, 2019:
Thank you so much for teaching me the core elements of a lesson plan .