Lesson planning can be a deceptively difficult and time consuming task. When developing effective lesson plans, the key to success is often stepping back to basics. Keep your lesson planning process simple and follow these 6 easy steps to building effective and efficient teaching lesson plans.
Step 1: Outline the learning objectives
Ask yourself some simple questions and note down your answers when developing your lesson plans. What do you want your students to learn? What do you want your students to take away from the lesson? What are the most important concepts? Rank them! This will help you identify how much time and effort you may need to dedicate to each learning area.
Step 2: Plan your introduction
Like a memorable awards ceremony, an effective lesson often begins with a killer introduction. A well planned introduction should aim to introduce the lesson in a creative way to stimulate thinking. Consider using one or more of the following:
- Quick poll or quiz
- Pop culture reference leading in to thought provoking dilemma
- Real world examples
- Short video clip
- Reference to history
If you do open with a quick straw poll or question, consider if you can use the opportunity to gather a baseline as to your students understanding or position on a topic? From a practical point of view, allowing time at the start of your lesson to get a picture of how familiar students are with a topic, gives you the opportunity to narrow or broaden your focus as appropriate.
Step 3: Plan the learning activities
Now that you know what your learning objectives are and how you’ll open up the lines of engagement, then next step is to plan out the learning activities. This will be the most time consuming task in the lesson planning process. While planning activities note an estimate of how long you expect to take for each activity. Allow for discussion and questions.
Be prepared to explain the activity in a number of ways. Students may require clarification as to how they should proceed on the activity and being ready to explain the activity via real world examples or analogies can make the process much smoother.
Within the activities note down strategies you can employ to verify student understanding of the activities they are working on.
Anticipate questions and be prepared with the answers.
Step 4: Allow time to confirm understanding
Put simply, how are you going to know that your students are learning? Going back to Step 3, what activities can you prepare to test understanding, comprehension and learning?
Step 5: Plan your conclusion
Wrapping up a lesson effectively is arguably more important than how to introduce it. Briefly summarize what you’ve covered in the lesson, touching on the learning objectives. Plan to have students assist you in the summary. One tip that can help evaluate your lesson is the quick ‘pop quiz’. Have students note down the main points they’ve taken from the lesson. You can review these to see if they match with your learning objectives. If there are large gaps, you can pick these up in following lessons.
Step 6: Build out your timeline
Now that you’ve got your lesson outline in place it’s time to plan out your timeline. How long will you need to run through each section of the lesson? Allow contingency for question and clarification. During your lesson you can even write up a brief ‘agenda’ on the board so that the class knows what’s coming up and where you are at. This will help you keep things moving and keeps everyone – you included – on track.
Although having a timeline and planning your lesson around it is important, it’s equally important to remain flexible. In some cases you may need to adjust your lesson on the fly depending upon how the class is progressing and the level of understanding/learning the students are demonstrating.
Summing up effective lesson plans
For a lesson plan to be effective it’s crucial that you have a clear outline of your learning objectives and the learning activities to support them. Planning out the lesson start to finish will give you the confidence you need to get through the lesson efficiently to make the most effective use of your time as possible.