How Can Teachers Build a Quality Lesson Plan?

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Lesson plans help teachers provide an effective learning experience for their students

A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during the class time. After planning the unit and sequencing the learning experience, the next step focuses on developing individual lessons. Before planning the lesson, it is important to identify the learning objectives for students. Specifying concrete objectives for student learning will help the teachers to determine the kind of teaching and learning activities to use in class. The next step is designing appropriate learning activities and strategies to obtain feedback on student learning. These activities guide in checking whether or not the learning objectives have been accomplished.

Preparing a Lesson Plan

There are mainly six steps that guide the preparation of an effective lesson plan. They are discussed below. Each of these steps is accompanied by a set of questions for prompting reflection and guiding the teachers in designing the teaching and learning activities.

1. Outline Learning Objectives

The first step in preparing a lesson is outlining the learning objectives for the lesson. This helps to determine what you want students to learn and be able to do at the end of class. Consider the following questions that will guide in prioritizing the objectives:

  • What are the most important concepts, ideas, or skills I want students to be able to grasp and apply?
  • Why are they important?
  • If I ran out of time, which ones could not be omitted?
  • Which ones could I skip if pressed for time?

2. Develop the Introduction

After prioritizing the learning objectives, the next step involves developing a creative introduction to the lesson that stimulates student interest and thinking. A variety of approaches like personal anecdote, historical event, thought-provoking dilemma, real-world example, short video clip, practical application, probing question, etc. can be used to engage students. It is important to consider the following questions when developing the introduction:

  • How will I check whether students know anything about the topic or have any preconceived notions about it?
  • What are some commonly held ideas or misconceptions among the students about the topic?
  • What will I do to introduce the topic?

3. Plan Specific Learning Activities

The third step, planning the specific learning activities, constitutes the main body of the lesson. The teacher needs to prepare several different ways of explaining the material (real-life examples, analogies, visuals, etc.) to catch the attention of more students and appeal to different learning styles. When the examples and activities are planned, it is also necessary to estimate the amount of time that can be spared for each of them. Some time should also be kept aside for extended explanation or discussion. Some questions to help design the learning activities to be used are given below:

  • What will I do to explain the topic?
  • How can I engage students in the topic?
  • What are some relevant real-life examples, analogies, or situations that can help students understand the topic?

4. Plan to Check for Understanding

After explaining the topic and illustrating it with different examples, the next step is planning to check for student understanding. Teachers should think about specific questions to ask students in order to check for understanding. These questions have to be written down and paraphrased. This will help in preparing the teacher to ask the questions in different ways. The instructor should be constantly monitoring the lesson to determine the degree of instructional effectiveness. Once that is determined, adjustments may need to be made in the presentation to reach a desired learner outcome, such as slowing down, if the material is too difficult; speeding up, if the material is too simple; jumping ahead, if the students already know the material; or re-teaching, if the students are missing some important prior knowledge. Some questions to reflect on are:

  • What questions will I ask students to check for understanding?
  • What will I have students do to demonstrate that they are following the lesson effectively?
  • Going back to my list of learning objectives, what activity can I have students do to check whether each objective has been accomplished?

5. Develop a Conclusion and a Preview

The fifth step in planning a lesson is developing a conclusion of the lesson and giving a preview on the next one. Teachers should go over the material covered in class by summarizing the main points of the lesson. After this, it is good to give a short preview regarding what will be learned the next day. This will help students stay engaged and maintain a smooth flow and transition of the teaching-learning process.

6. Create a Realistic Timeline

The final step involved in developing an effective lesson plan is creating a realistic timeline. A realistic timeline will reflect the flexibility of the teacher and readiness to adapt to the specific classroom environment. Most often, many of the planned topics cannot be covered due to time constraints. So, the instructors will need to adjust their lesson plan during class depending on what the students need. This decision can be made based on the list of prioritized learning objectives. Some strategies for creating a realistic timeline are:

  • Estimate how much time each of the activities will take, then plan some extra time for each.
  • In the lesson plan, indicate how much time you expect it will take next to each activity.
  • Plan a few minutes at the end of class to answer any remaining questions and to sum up the key points.
  • Plan an extra activity or discussion question in case you have time left.
  • Be flexible – be ready to adjust your lesson plan to meet students’ needs and focus on what seems to be more productive rather than sticking to your original plan.

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