Creating Lesson Plans

An Overview

Lesson plans are roadmaps. Their purpose is to help teachers accomplish the instructional goal(s) of a single class period. The details can run the gamut from simple to complex and can be formatted in any number of ways, but there are certain components that most lesson plans should—in some way, shape, or form—always include.

  • A title, a reasonable time allotment, a contextual framework and a list of instructional materials and/or outside resources required to accomplish the goal.
  • Some performance and/or knowledge objectives defining what students should be able to either do or know by the end of the instructional period.
  • A lead-in, or introduction, which could include "leading" questions, a brief review of material to date, a PowerPoint presentation, a film or news clip, a modeling demonstration, anything that focuses attention on the skill or concept to be learned.
  • A sequential layout of what the instructor intends to say or do—what comes first, second, third and so on—in the actual teaching component of the lesson.
  • A student-centered active-learning component in which students try their own mind or hand at the assigned task: an experiment, group discussion or activity.
  • Summative and evaluative components wherein the lesson is wrapped up, students ask unasked questions, and comprehension is gauged using various non-graded assessment techniques.

There are many ways to create lesson plans. Some instructors develop them from scratch; others borrow from a shared curriculum. Some carefully write out all the details; others use only a brief outline.

Your approach will depend on many things: how well you know the material, how long you've been teaching, the kinds of teaching you've done in the past, how adventurous, engaging, ambitious—maybe even brave—you are, the number and kind of students you expect to have in your class and, of course, departmental requirements.

This guide will help you think through some of the processes other instructors have found valuable.