Each person has their own teaching style and approach, but one tool that most teachers use is an outline to help plan their instruction. This is often referred to as a lesson plan. Although lesson plans can be flexible and tailored to your own unique way of teaching, there are a few aspects that most lesson plans have in common.
Here, we’ll go over what the purpose is of using a lesson plan, along with the main components of a successful lesson plan.
Benefits of Having a Lesson Plan
If you’ve gone into teaching, it’s because you have many ideas and pearls of wisdom you want to share with your students. But teaching isn’t just about spilling your ideas and knowledge out and hoping your students take away something valuable. Teaching is an art, and requires planning and structure.
Whether you’re planning a one-day workshop, or teaching a full curriculum to be delivered over the course of several sessions, each time you meet with your students, you will need a plan. A lesson plan helps you zero in on the goals of what will be taught and ensures that you will execute your lesson in a measured and impactful manner.
Some of the benefits of lesson planning include:
- Helping instructors clarify their goals for a particular lesson
- Helping students understand their own learning goals
- Helping instructors come up with specific activities and learning tools that align with these specific goals
- Helping instructors pace their classes, so that time is used efficiently
- Helping instructors assess whether the material is being absorbed by their students
- Helping instructors break their larger curriculum down into smaller, more manageable pieces
- Helping instructors plan in advance for any needed materials
- Easing instructor anxiety, by ensuring that a clear plan is in place
Lesson Plan Features
While not all lesson plans look the same, and can be tweaked to meet your needs, there are some basic components that most lesson plans have. Here are some things that are beneficial to include.
Before you begin your lesson plan, you need to be clear on what topic you are covering. If you have a curriculum already, you can pick a topic that is part of your curriculum. You want to pick a topic that is not too broad, but also not too narrow.
This is where you will come up with a goal for your lesson. This goal is not only to help you decide what to cover in your lesson plan, but what knowledge you want your students to come away with after the lesson.
To refine your objective, ask yourself questions like:
- “What’s the most important piece of information I want my students to leave this lesson knowing?”
- “What do my students already know about this topic and what am I aiming to add to that knowledge base?”
- “How will today’s lesson build upon previous lessons or prepare my students for upcoming lessons?”
Directions and Teaching Methods
This is where you get into the “nuts and bolts'' of the lesson. You will decide which parts of your lesson will be discussion-based, which may include activities, small group work, brainstorming, journaling, or Q&A.
Most lesson plans have a combination of both lecture and interactive activities. It can be helpful to have hands-on activities as well as activities with visual cues. This way, the topic can appeal to people with various learning styles.
Once you know the time frame for your class, you can then break down each portion, with goals for what might happen at each point in the class, and instructions for yourself about how to execute each activity.
For example, if you are teaching an hour long class, you might break it up as follows:
- Introduction and sharing of lesson objective (10 minutes)
- Discussion/small group discussion, with steps outlined (20 minutes)
- Activity (hands-on/visual/video), with steps outlined (20 minutes)
- Learning assessment/lesson takeaway (10 minutes)
After you’ve written down the steps to your lesson plan, you’ll have a better idea of what materials you’ll need to execute the lesson. In your lesson plan, you can list the needed materials so that you can acquire them before teaching the lesson. You may also need to ask or remind students to bring in materials, such as notebooks, textbooks, and writing instruments.
Some possible materials you may need include:
- Parent handouts
- Visual aids
- Videos or video links
- Props for demonstration
All lessons should end with some type of assessment. This helps ensure that both you and your students have met learning goals, and it leaves students with a “takeaway” from the lesson that they can think about before the next lesson.
A learning assessment can be in the form of a test or a quiz to evaluate student knowledge. But it can also be an evaluation form, a journal reflection, or a discussion that allows for follow-up questions.
Where to Go From Here
Lesson planning can be challenging, especially when you are building your lessons from scratch, and gathering materials from multiple sources. At Plumtree Baby, our teaching curriculums include lesson plans that correspond to our parent materials and PowerPoints. Our ready-to-go materials make it easy to teach without having to prepare lessons from the ground up.
Wendy Wisner, Freelance Writer and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
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