A lesson plan is the instructor’s road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during the class time. Then, you can design appropriate learning activities and develop strategies to obtain feedback on student learning. Having a carefully constructed lesson plan for each 3-hour lesson allows you to enter the classroom with more confidence and maximizes your chance of having a meaningful learning experience with your students.
A successful lesson plan addresses and integrates three key components:
A lesson plan provides you with a general outline of your teaching goals, learning objectives, and means to accomplish them, and is by no means exhaustive. A productive lesson is not one in which everything goes exactly as planned, but one in which both students and instructor learn from each other. You may refer to an example of a 3 hour lesson plan here.
Listed below are 6 steps for preparing your lesson plan before your class.
Before you plan your lesson, you will first need to identify the learning objectives for the lesson. A learning objective describes what the learner will know or be able to do after the learning experience rather than what the learner will be exposed to during the instruction (i.e. topics). Typically, it is written in a language that is easily understood by students and clearly related to the program learning outcomes. The table below contains the characteristics of clear learning objectives:
|Clearly stated tasks||Free from jargon and complex vocabulary; describe specific and achievable tasks (such as ‘describe’, ‘analyse’ or ‘evaluate’) NOT vague tasks (like ‘appreciate’, ‘understand’ or ‘explore’).|
|Important learning goals||Describe the essential (rather than trivial) learning in the course which a student must achieve.|
|Achievable||Can be achieved within the given period and sufficient resources are available.|
|Demonstrable and measurable||Can be demonstrated in a tangible way; are assessable; achievement and quality of achievement can be observed.|
|Fair and equitable||All students, including those with disabilities or constraints, have a fair chance of achieving them.|
|Linked to course and program objectives||Consider the broader goals - i.e. course, program and institutional goals.|
The Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (link) is a useful resource for crafting learning objectives that are demonstrable and measurable.
When planning learning activities you should consider the types of activities students will need to engage in, in order to develop the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate effective learning in the course. Learning activities should be directly related to the learning objectives of the course, and provide experiences that will enable students to engage in, practice, and gain feedback on specific progress towards those objectives.
As you plan your learning activities, estimate how much time you will spend on each. Build in time for extended explanation or discussion, but also be prepared to move on quickly to different applications or problems, and to identify strategies that check for understanding. Some questions to think about as you design the learning activities you will use are:
Many activities can be used to engage learners. The activity types (i.e. what the student is doing) and their examples provided below are by no means an exhaustive list, but will help you in thinking through how best to design and deliver high impact learning experiences for your students in a typical lesson.
|Activity Type||Learning Activity||Description|
|Interaction with content
Students are more likely to retain information presented in these ways if they are asked to interact with the material in some way.
|Drill and practice||Problem/task is presented to students where they are asked to provide the answer; may be timed or untimed|
|Lecture||Convey concepts verbally, often with visual aids (e.g. presentation slides)|
|Quiz||Exercise to assess the level of student understanding and questions can take many forms, e.g. multiple-choice, short-structured, essay etc.|
|Student presentation||Oral report where students share their research on a topic and take on a position and/or role|
|Interaction with digital content
Students experiment with decision making, and visualise the effects and/or consequences in virtual environments
|Game||Goal-oriented exercise that encourages collaboration and/or competition within a controlled virtual environment|
|Simulation||Replica or representation of a real-world phenomenon that enables relationships, contexts, and concepts to be studied|
|Interaction with others
Peer relationships, informal support structures, and teacher-student interactions/relationships
|Debate||Verbal activity in which two or more differing viewpoints on a subject are presented and argued|
|Discussion||Formal/informal conversation on a given topic/question where the instructor facilitates student sharing of responses to the questions, and building upon those responses|
|Feedback||Information provided by the instructor and/or peer(s) regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding|
|Guest Speaker||Feelings, thoughts, ideas and experiences specific to a given topic are shared by an invited presenter|
|Problem solving and Critical thinking
Presenting students with a problem, scenario, case, challenge or design issue, which they are then asked to address or deal with provides students with opportunities to think about or use knowledge and information in new and different ways
|Case Study||Detailed story (true or fictional) that students analyse in detail to identify the underlying principles, practices, or lessons it contains|
|Concept Mapping||Graphical representation of related information in which common or shared concepts are linked together|
|Real-world projects||Planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations, either individually or collaboratively|
The process of reflection starts with the student thinking about what they already know and have experienced in relation to the topic being explored/learnt. This is followed by analysis of why the student thinks about the topic in the way they do, and what assumptions, attitudes and beliefs they have about, and bring to learning about the topic.
|Reflection journal||Written records of students’ intellectual and emotional reactions to a given topic on a regular basis (e.g. weekly after each lesson)|
It is important that each learning activity in the lesson must be (1) aligned to the lesson’s learning objectives, (2) meaningfully engage students in active, constructive, authentic, and collaborative ways, and (3) useful where the student is able to take what they have learnt from engaging with the activity and use it in another context, or for another purpose.
Assessments (e.g., tests, papers, problem sets, performances) provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and practice the knowledge and skills articulated in the learning objectives, and for instructors to offer targeted feedback that can guide further learning.
Planning for assessment allows you to find out whether your students are learning. It involves making decisions about:
To learn more about designing assessment, click here.
Robert Gagne proposed a nine-step process called the events of instruction, which is useful for planning the sequence of your lesson. Using Gagne’s 9 events in conjunction with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (link) aids in designing engaging and meaningful instruction.
To find out more about scaffolding student learning, click here
A list of ten learning objectives is not realistic, so narrow down your list to the two or three key concepts, ideas, or skills you want students to learn in the lesson. Your list of prioritized learning objectives will help you make decisions on the spot and adjust your lesson plan as needed. Here are some strategies for creating a realistic timeline:
Lesson closure provides an opportunity to solidify student learning. Lesson closure is useful for both instructors and students.
You can use closure to:
Your students will find your closure helpful for:
There are several ways in which you can put a closure to the lesson:
Letting your students know what they will be learning and doing in class will help keep them more engaged and on track. Providing a meaningful organisation of the class time can help students not only remember better, but also follow your presentation and understand the rationale behind the planned learning activities. You can share your lesson plan by writing a brief agenda on the whiteboard or telling students explicitly what they will be learning and doing in class. Click on link here for tips and techniques to facilitate an interactive lesson.
Take a few minutes after each class to reflect on what worked well and why, and what you could have done differently. Identifying successful and less successful organization of class time and activities would make it easier to adjust to the contingencies of the classroom. If needed, revise the lesson plan.