7 Components of an Effective Classroom Lesson Plan

Updated on November 9, 2018
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Geri McClymont is passionate about education. She holds an MEd and has taught ESL, Spanish, and special education students grades K-12.

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.

Student learning is our ultimate goal as we deliver lessons.
Student learning is our ultimate goal as we deliver lessons. | Source

What Are the Components of an Effective Lesson Plan?

1. Materials

2. Clear objectives

3. Background knowledge

4. Direct instruction

5. Student practice

6. Closure

7. Demonstration of learning (quick assessment)

Be sure to have all materials ready before you begin your lesson.
Be sure to have all materials ready before you begin your lesson. | Source

1. 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 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 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:

Materials

  • lined paper
  • pencils
  • rulers
  • Kagan chips
  • document camera
  • laptop

Your learning objectives should be the ongoing focus of your lesson.
Your learning objectives should be the ongoing focus of your lesson. | Source

2. Clear 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 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!

Your objectives should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Sample SMART Objectives

English
Math
Social Studies
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.
Set the stage by activating prior knowledge and getting your students excited about what you're going to teach them.
Set the stage by activating prior knowledge and getting your students excited about what you're going to teach them. | Source

3. Activate Background Knowledge

Set the stage by tapping into your students’ background knowledgetheir previous life experiences and prior learningto 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 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.”

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!

Be sure to model plenty of examples as part of your direct instruction.
Be sure to model plenty of examples as part of your direct instruction. | Source

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 objectives.

Speak clearly and concisely. Less is more as long as you stay on topic.

Model, Model, Model.

Use the board or a document camera 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.

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.

Be sure to model multiple examples of the concept you're introducing!

After you've modeled a few examples, allow students to participate in the process with you.
After you've modeled a few examples, allow students to participate in the process with you. | Source

When you teach, the key is to gradually release your students from watching you model the correct application of the concept to allowing them to apply the concept independently. It's a process!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Circulate the room as students participate in collaborative activities, offering assistance as needed.
Circulate the room as students participate in collaborative activities, offering assistance as needed. | Source

6. Closure

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.”

Give your students a quick assessment at the end of the lesson to check their learning.
Give your students a quick assessment at the end of the lesson to check their learning. | Source

7. Demonstration of Learning (Quick Assessment)

This is how you evaluate whether or not your students met your lesson objectives.

The D.O.L. should always be completed independently, without any teacher assistance. It should take most students no longer than five 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.

Make sure the D.O.L. accurately reflects the learning objectives 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.

Students enjoying themselves in class.
Students enjoying themselves in class. | Source

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.

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?

Questions & Answers

  • What are some methods for assessing listening comprehension?

    One way to assess listening comprehension is to read a short passage such as a short story aloud to students (without any visual aides), and then ask them to respond to multiple choice questions about key elements of the passage. I think it's important to select a high interest passage--one you think your students will enjoy listening to--because most of us tune out to what we hear when we're not interested in the topic! 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 directions 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. (Students would have several pictures of people fitting different descriptions, and would have to discriminate among the various pictures to locate the correct one based on the description they heard.) Another example is to show students a map and ask them questions about the location of different streets, stores or other items on the map, such as, "Which store is between the bookstore and the sandwich shop?" or "Which two streets intersect with Main Street?" (Make sure they understand the meaning of "intersect" and any other words in directions you provide.)

© 2016 Geri McClymont

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