Creating Lesson Plans: A Checklist

A Checklist: Just the Basics

You know what they say about the best laid plans. Well, lesson plans are no different. They might go less awry, however, if you write them down. Here’s a checklist to work from. It's by no means the end-all, be-all but, it will get you started. Doubtless, you'll have or find things to add as you go along.

A Title: What’s the point? Give your lesson plan a bold name—like a newspaper headline—strongly linked to your main objective(s). By default practically, your title will end up indicating the contextual framework of your lesson and possibly even the learning outcome you intend your students to experience by the end of class.

A title will also help you keep your planning session focused—or on task—as they say. You will also find it handy for headlining all your classroom handouts. It’ll help your students keep their course materials organized.

Objectives: What are they? Jot down what you want your students to know or be able to do at the end of the lesson. You can have more than one objective, but be careful. Consider their complexity and whether you can deliver the necessary instructional and assessment components for each in the time allotted.

Materials: What are you going to need to teach the lesson? Or better yet, what can’t you teach the lesson without: A PowerPoint presentation, some A/V equipment, a video clip, student handouts, textbooks with significant pages marked? Make a note of all these things and make sure to assemble and have them with you when it’s time to teach.

Vocabulary: Any new words or phrases? Many fields of study have exclusive terminologies; specific lexicons. Make sure you have a list of all the new terms you’re going to be using. Your students will need to know not just the textbook definitions, but how you interpret and use them as well.

An Introduction: You will need to focus everybody’s attention on the lesson. Will a simple explanation do? How about something interactive or a visual presentation: a video clip for instance? What about a review of the previous lesson(s) and how it dovetails with the one you are about to deliver? Decide and make a note of it.

Also, when planning your introduction, realize that this is the time to evaluate the background information and prior knowledge your students bring to the table. You can do this easily by asking a few pointed questions requiring students to rely on past experiences in order to respond.

Your Methodology: How are you going to deliver the content? Will there be preparatory outside reading and Web research assignments that your students need to complete beforehand? Is there a lecture component? How long will that take? Will there be any large group discussions or activities: any small groups? How much time for that?

Is there a hands-on activity to practice what’s being taught? What is it and how will your students go about it: Individually, or in groups? Figure all this out and write up step-by-step instructions and electronically post or make enough copies for everyone.

Assessing Comprehension: How are your students doing? You need to find out if they're achieving your learning objectives. Reserve some end-of-class time for a question and answer session, a quiz, or a quick in-class writing assignment. Remember: Questions need to be such that responses display newly learned skills or increased core knowledge directly related to your lesson-plan objective(s).

Miscellaneous: Do you have any students with disabilities, ESL students, guest speakers, etc. with special accommodation needs? Take all of this into account as you create your lesson plan. Once you are finished, flush out the details: Create the homework assignments, handouts, and assessments called for in the plan.

NOTE: For a more comprehensive guide about creating lesson plans, please see Creating Lesson Plans, a TILT Teaching Guide.

Copyright and Permissions:

This Teaching Tip was adapted from material developed by Kerri Eglin for the Writing@CSU Web site at Colorado State University.