How to Write a Lesson Plan
Creating a well-rounded lesson has always been a challenge. For novice teachers, the question may be where to start whereas for more experienced teachers, it can be daunting when you’re constantly thinking about making your classes more engaging, interactive, and well-structured.
Truth be told, there are many teaching resources available on the internet. When teachers feel overwhelmed, they resort to googling a lesson plan. However, this is not the best solution to your problem and maybe even MORE time-consuming. A lesson plan from the internet is not going to be suitable to your context or cater to your students’ specific learning needs and ability levels. Therefore, you’ll need to adapt it and this would create more work for you.
What if I told you that your life would be easier if you had a lesson plan template? Something that you can use daily, helps you stay organized, and make teaching fun and even, dare I say, hassle-free? So what are you waiting for? I have provided you with a FREE easy-to-follow guide to writing a lesson plan, creating a lesson plan template, and using it for subsequent lesson planning in the future. Let’s get started!
Step 1: The Basics
This sample template is free, easy to use, and can be adapted to your context. Here is the first part: Lesson Plan Template #1
Date and Time:
This may seem obvious but this is essential. God forbid, it may help you remember what day you have class! On a serious note, don’t skip this step. It creates a record and helps keep you organized and punctual.
I consider this to be very important. I need to know exactly how much time I have in the lesson so I can pace my lesson and activities accordingly. I shudder to think about what could happen if I am unprepared, unaware of the class duration, and under planned for the lesson. Oh, the horror…
I don’t think I had ever confused my class sections until I started teaching online. I was constantly logging in to the wrong section, getting confused when no one logged in, realizing my mistake, and switching to the correct class. What a nightmare, and a waste of time. Entering in the course code was a game-changer. This will ensure you are teaching the right plan to the RIGHT class section!
No. of students:
Honestly, unless you’re teaching at a private language academy and have one-on-one sessions, this one is a no-brainer. You need to know/consider the number of students in your class when planning for group/pair activities and tasks. This will also help you with pacing; with larger class sizes, some group activities may take longer to wind down.
You can write down the students’ CEFR level, IELTS band, Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. Or you can adjust this to write “Student type” instead where you can specify whether it is EAP (English for Academic Purposes), or ESP (English for Specific Purposes).
What exactly is a learning objective? The best way to answer this question is simply asking yourself, “What do you want your students to learn by the end of your lesson?” A major advantage of identifying Los (and sharing them with your students) is that it is both beneficial for you and your students. LOS helps you stay on track while for students, they are a good reminder for them on what to focus on during the lesson.
Some other things to consider while developing lesson objectives are its link to the curriculum, the program, and the overall course you are teaching. Pro tip: check out Bloom's Taxonomy to help you develop learning objectives for your students.
This is optional. You can choose to add in some more information if you already know your students. This can help you narrow down your learning objectives. Moreover, it also counts as prep for Step 2 (The Nitty-Gritty: Curating Activities). For instance, if I am preparing to teach students how to synthesize sources for a writing assignment, I would assume that those learners are already familiar with using quotations, making inferences, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
I swear this is one field that I have found immensely helpful when addressing any concerns that may arise in the middle of a lesson. So how do I know what difficulties my students may encounter? I just walk through the scenario in my head and try to predict what challenges they may have while attempting a task. This is based on my “assumed knowledge” of their learning abilities. Most of the time, those questions are asked and thankfully, I already have most answers ready since I’ve prepared beforehand. Also, it goes without saying: have the answer key ready! (See Step 2: Activities).
You can go ahead and write down whatever you think you’ll need for this lesson: pen/paper/textbook/board markers/computer/headphones/webcam. This list will also remind you of what you need to bring/download/print/upload before you start your class.
Step 2: The Nitty-Gritty
Now that the administrative part of teaching is over, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty! This is the step in which you plan the meat of the lesson. You are now ready to plan and curate your lesson into a meaningful learning experience for your students. Here is how your free sample template looks like now:
Let’s look at some things we need to consider at this point:
START: How will you start the class?
- Will you include a warmer? My students love Bingo, Riddles, and 2 Truths & a Lie! How long will it be? I would choose something that requires minimal prep and takes only 5-7 minutes of your class time.
- I also recommend not spending too much time on this, the idea is to grab your student’s attention, make them relax, and ready to learn.
- Pro tip: at the start of a semester, I prepare all my warmer activities and use them sporadically throughout the term.
INTRODUCE: How will you present/introduce the topic?
- Are you going to use a video? Tell a story? Show a picture? Play a song?
- Whatever you decide to choose, it should help kick off the discussion on the topic at hand, activate schemata (prior knowledge of the topic). This is something you have already identified in Step 1 (The Basics: Assumed Knowledge) and helps you at this stage to elicit a conversation on this topic.
- At this point, you should also share the lesson objectives with your students so that they have time to process what they are expected to learn by the end of the lesson.
ACTIVITIES: What sorts of activities will you integrate into your lesson?
- The activity or task you choose to implement with your students will depend on the learning objectives, the type of activity best suited for this learning experience (debate, discussion, drilling, etc.), and the medium of learning (online, face-to-face, integrated, or blended). Does it promote communicative competence? Moreover, is it inclusive to all students? Can all of them complete this task fairly in order to demonstrate a full understanding of the learning objective?
- This part is where lesson planning can become very subjective. You know your students best. You know what they are like, what they enjoy doing, and what they are capable of accomplishing. So choose wisely. Choose something that will bring them joy as they learn while engaging in the material/task/activity you have prepared for them.
- This is the stage for students to PRACTICE what you just taught them! Moreover, this is the part of the lesson where you can facilitate and monitor their learning progress.
- Please make sure you understand the activity or task yourself. I cannot stress this enough. Practice doing it yourself or ask some colleagues to help you. This helps you identify how much time is needed per activity/task, pacing between activities (Step 3: “Sequencing Activities”, and any questions/concerns that may arise (Step 1: Anticipated problems).
- Pro tip: Always prepare something extra for early finishers! Ask any experienced teacher, it is always better to over-plan than under plan. Don’t worry if you don’t end up using the activities - you can always save them for the next lesson.
INTERACTION: How do you want your students to interact?
- This is an important question. There are several different types of interaction patterns in the class. There’s interaction with you (the teacher), their peers (pair or group work), and the content and material (digital or in the classroom).
- So along with deciding which activities to include, you should consider the type of interaction pattern best suited for the activity and the learning that will happen. For example, you may want to consider pair work or group activities when you want students to collaborate.
- Need more ideas? Check out some examples of interactive techniques.
ASSESSMENT: How do you know if your students learned anything?
- One way to check whether or not your students can demonstrate an understanding of the learning objectives is to provide immediate feedback on student performance because this helps to facilitate learning.
- You should use concept checking questions (CCQs). Simply asking the students “Do you understand” is not enough. Check out this article for more guidance on how to assess student comprehension and keep it simple.
- In order to check the efficacy of your teaching, you need to test the students on the stated learning objectives. It is up to you as a teacher to decide on the assessment method (quiz, writing assignment, project, etc.) for your students, assessment type (formative or summative), and the criteria (rubrics) that you will use.
Step 3: Fine-Tuning it
At this stage, you have almost completed your lesson plan! Good job! Now all that is left is the fine-tuning. You now need to go over your lesson plan and figure out the following:
Sequencing of activities:
This will help you figure out or refine the order and timing of your activities, the transition from one activity to another, and the overall pace of your lesson. Trust me, if you spend only a few minutes figuring this out. And you will find out just how useful it is to have this sorted during the actual lesson. If your transitions are thoughtfully curated, then your lesson plan will be seamless when it comes to student attention span and retention capacity.
Now that you have a fair idea of what you are planning to do in the lesson and how you are explaining the tasks and activities, you need to add some instructions. In order for your students to feel comfortable attempting anything you ask them to do, you need to provide a set of clear, concise, and simple instructions. Pro tip: include instruction checking questions (ICQs) to check if your students have understood the instructions! Most of the time, students do not speak up if they don’t follow the instructions, or maybe they weren’t paying attention at that time (but are afraid to admit it), so I would recommend ICQs to ensure that all students are on the same page (yes, pun intended).
As a novice teacher, I was always scrambling to finish up my lesson plan. But what I always included (no matter where I was on the lesson plan in terms of pacing) was a quick review near the end of the lesson plan. It is at this stage where you can answer your students’ questions and provide a recap of the main points of the lesson. It is a helpful technique in reinforcing some of the learning objectives of the lesson. I would suggest doing a quick, simple review for 5 -10 minutes near the end of the class duration. It’s time to wrap-up and a quick review is a good way to end it.
Use the “Notes” section to jot down anything that comes to mind during the lesson. Maybe it was the order of the activities or the timing. In some cases, you may have forgotten to add your ICQs, so you can add a reminder there. To be honest, I normally use this section after the lesson when I think back to how the lesson went; what worked, what did not, and how I can do it differently from that point on. It is a very useful practice to reflect on your lesson as this can help guide you in future lesson planning. Moreover, once you have figured out what were the elements that made your lesson successful, you can adapt your new lesson plan accordingly. Here are some ways for you to practice reflective teaching.
Once you’ve used the template I have provided in your lesson planning, you can identify which sections are useful in your context and adapt it to your liking. And that’s it! I hope this was helpful and you enjoy your free template. Happy lesson planning!
-written by Hamza Abbasi