Guide to Writing Lesson Plans
10 Steps To Developing A Quality Lesson Plan:
This guide is not meant to be the one and only way to develop a lesson plan. It is a general overview that highlights the key points of creating a lesson plan. Below is a list of the steps involved in developing a lesson plan as well as a description of what each component should be. You may also find this new Lesson Plan Template to be useful for creating your lesson plans!
- The first thing to consider, obviously, is what you want to teach. This should be developed based upon your state (or school) standards. You also need to be aware of what grade level you are developing the lesson plan for (and keep that in mind of course), and also record a time estimate for your lesson plan to help in time budgeting. Once you have your topic, you can begin determining how you want to teach the topic. If you didn’t use the state standards to help in developing your topic, refer to them now to see what specific standards your lesson plan can fulfill. Having your lesson plan correctly aligned with state standards helps to prove its worthiness and necessity. It also helps in assuring that your students are being taught what your state requires. If you are able to correlate your lesson plan with standards, record links to those standards in your lesson plan. If writing this lesson plan for a website (The Lesson Plans Page) be sure to include a title that properly reflects your topic.
- To make sure your lesson plan will teach exactly what you want it to; you need to develop clear and specific objectives. Please note that objectives should not be activities that will be used in the lesson plan. They should instead be the learning outcomes of those activities. As an example, if you wanted to teach your class how to add 2 + 3, your objective may be that “the students will know how to add 2 + 3” or more specifically “the students will demonstrate how to add 2 + 3.”
Objectives should also be directly measurable (we’ll get to this in assessment / evaluation). In other words, make sure you will be able to tell whether these objectives were met or not. You can certainly have more than one objective for a lesson plan.
To make objectives more meaningful, you may want to include both broad and narrow objectives. The broad objectives would be more like goals and include the overall goal of the lesson plan, i.e. to gain familiarity with adding two numbers together. The specific objectives would be more like the one listed above, i.e. “the students will demonstrate how to add the numbers 2 and 3 together.”
- You would probably find out exactly what materials you are going to use later, but they should be shown early in your lesson plan. This way if someone else were going to use your lesson plan, they would know in advance what materials are required. Be specific here to make sure the teacher will have everything they need. For the addition lesson, you should make sure you have 10 or so unifix cubes per student, paper, and pencils.
- You may also want to write an Anticipatory Set, which would be a way to lead into the lesson plan and develop the students’ interest in learning what is about to be taught. A good example deals with a lesson on fractions. The teacher could start by asking the students how they would divide up a pizza to make sure each of their 5 friends got an equal amount of pizza, and tell them that they can do this if they know how to work with fractions.
- Now you need to write the step-by-step procedures that will be performed to reach the objectives. These don’t have to involve every little thing the teacher will say and do, but they should list the relevant actions the teacher needs to perform. For the adding 2 + 3 lesson, you may have procedures such as these:
- The teacher will give each child 2 unifix cubes.
- The teacher will ask the students to write down how many unifix cubes they have on paper (2).
- The students should then write a + sign below the number 2, like this:
- The teacher will then pass out 3 more unifix cubes to each student.
- The students will be asked to write down how many unifix cubes they were just given. They should write this number below the number 2 that they just wrote, so that it looks like this:
- Students should now draw a line under their 3.
- Now the students should count how many unifix cubes they have together and write this number just below the 3, like this:
- Ask students how many unifix cubes they had to start, how many they were given to add to that, and how many they had total after the teacher gave them the 3 unifix cubes.
- After the procedures have been completed, you may want to provide time for independent practice. For the example of above, students could be given time to add different numbers of unifix cubes together that a partner would provide them with.
- Just before moving on to the assessment phase you should have some sort of closure for the lesson plan. A good idea for this is to return to your anticipatory set, i.e. ask students how they would divide up that pizza now that they know how to work with fractions (refer to the example in step 4).
- Now you want to write your assessment / evaluation. Many lesson plans don’t necessarily need an assessment, but most should have some sort of evaluation of whether or not the objectives were reached. The key in developing your assessment is to make sure that the assessment specifically measures whether the objectives were reached or not. Thus, there should be a direct correlation between the objectives and the assessments. Assuming the objective were to be able to add two single digit numbers together, an example would be to have students approach the teacher and add two single digit numbers (that the teacher provides via unifix cubes) on paper using unifix cubes as a guide.
- Adaptations should also be made for students with learning disabilities and extensions for others. Examples would be adding 1 unifix cube to 1 unifix cube for students with learning disabilities and adding 9 unifix cubes to 13 unifix cubes for gifted students. This is best done with specific adaptations for specific students, to take into account their individual differences.
- It’s also a good idea to include a “Connections” section, which shows how the lesson plan could be integrated with other subjects. An example would be to have students paint 2 apples, then 3 more apples below them, etc. to integrate Art into the lesson plan. A better integration would involve creating 2 or 3 different types of textures on those apples, assuming texture was being studied in art class. Putting a lot of work into this can develop complete thematic units that would integrate related topics into many different subjects. This repetition of topics in different subjects can be extremely helpful in ensuring retention of the material.
That’s it! If you followed all the instructions above, you’ve successfully written a very thorough lesson plan that will be useful for any other teachers wanting to teach such a topic. One of the most helpful tips in writing your first lesson plans would be to look at lesson plans that are already fully developed to get a better idea of what needs to be in the lesson plan. You can do this by looking at the lesson plans on this site!