Parts of a Lesson Plan and an Effective, Easy Template
By Natasha Hoover
No matter how well you know the material or how many times you've taught a subject, creating lesson plans is important to you, your students, and your administrators. Today, most schools require teachers to submit lesson plans, so you have to write at least some sort of lesson plan to obtain or keep a teaching job. Writing lesson plans is more than just another piece of paperwork - it is a way to ensure you are prepared for each class and stay on track.
Lesson plans can be daily plans or longer-term plans; a single lesson plan may cover several days of instruction. Lesson plans do not have to be complicated, but each plan should include a few basic elements. By learning each element and creating a template, you can reduce the amount of time you spend creating lesson plans while improving their efficacy. Additionally, well-structured lessons make it easier for students to remember and understand the material presented. Streamlined lesson plans make your job easier and are beneficial for your students - what's not to love?
Do you use lesson plans?
Every lesson plan should contain the same basic elements. These pieces of the lesson plan help you define why you are teaching a lesson, how it will be taught, and what will be taught or accomplished. These lesson plan building blocks are:
- Descriptive data - This section details the date(s) and subject matter for the particular lesson.
- Goals and objectives - List goals and objectives, including any state standards and specific cognitive, affective, and psychomotor goals.
- Rationale - Why are you teaching this lesson? Why is it an important use of classroom time? How would you justify it to a parent or administrator?
- Procedure - The procedure is a list of the instructional activities used during the lesson. The procedure is the "how" portion of the lesson - how the day's tasks will be accomplished. The actual information presented is the content. For example, the day's procedure might be to recap the previous class's lessons, lecture for 10 minutes, do a group activity, and then break into groups to work on an upcoming project.
- Assignments and assignment reminders - Assignments are what students do - the "what" of a lesson. Assignments should always be posted clearly, not yelled at students as they leave the room. Assignments may include worksheets, papers, projects, and anything else completed by the students in class or at home. Procedures work in concert with assignments. For example, you may have a specific box for homework that students deposit their homework in when they first enter the classroom. You may want a separate box for classwork assignments that students use to turn in in-class work. Placing the work in a specific box is the procedure and the work being turned in is the assignment.
- Materials and equipment needed - Make sure to list any equipment, audiovisual and otherwise, needed for your lesson. Do you need a working DVD player and a TV to show a movie clip? Do you need paper, scissors, and glue? Make sure you have everything you need and that it all works works before the start of class to avoid wasting time.
- Accommodations for students with special needs - Do any of your students have IEPs? Do you have English language learners in your class? Write down any special accommodations, such as extra time, any of your students may need.
- Assessment of student learning - Every lesson does not need a written test or quiz, but each lesson should check for student understanding. For example, you can ask questions during class to determine if students remember or understand the material. Whether you plan to assess the students informally with questions or formally with a quiz or test, write your intended assessment methods in this section.
- Reflection on the lesson - After teaching a lesson, make note of the lesson plan's perceived successes and failures. Did the students need more time than anticipated for a specific activity? Did the students really love an in-class activity you tried? Remembering the everyday details of how well a lesson went is difficult; by taking the time now to reflect now you can improve your future lessons.
Many school districts have lesson plan templates they want teachers to use. If your school or district does not have a preferred template, creating one for yourself streamlines and simplifies the lesson planning process. Creating a lesson plan template is very easy. I created a text document lesson plan, shown below, in just a few minutes. I can either print it and fill it in by hand, or I can modify it on the computer to match any lesson I need to teach.
Why Save Them?
Always, always save your lesson plans! While you may be assigned different subjects next year, you could reteach a course in the future. Even if you do not teach the same subject for years, you can pull your old lesson plans, look at your reflections and suggestions, and quickly create a new, up-to-date lesson plan.
In addition to your basic lesson plan, make sure to save copies of hand-outs, assignments, and assessments. You can arrange this material any way you'd like, but I think keeping everything for a particular unit in a labeled binder is easiest. The next time you teach a course, you can simply pull the appropriate set of materials for each unit, make any necessary revisions, and get teaching!
How They Help
Creating, and using, a lesson plan template is beneficial in several ways. For starters, it allows you to draft lesson plans more quickly. Then, when you actually teach the lesson, you can follow your road map, which reduces stress and cuts the risk of running out of class time or not meeting necessary goals. By following a logical plan, you can help students understand and retain the information. Neat, easy to follow, and thorough lesson plans will also please your school administrators and parents.
In short, streamlining your lesson plans is an easy way to reduce demands on your time and improve your students' experience - a true win-win situation.