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LESSON PLANS

PURPOSE students to call upon as well as specific source


Lesson plans give direction to instruction. This material you will refer to in class.
tool explores the principles underlying lesson Remember that the first lesson plans you write
plans, reviews common characteristics of various and use will not be perfect. To refine and
lesson plan formats, and discusses lesson improve them for future semesters, evaluate
planning in the context of higher education. them alone or with peers. It is often helpful to
review a lesson plan immediately after teaching.
DESCRIPTION Make a note of what worked well and what
There are a number of formats for lesson plans. didn’t. Share lesson plans with others who are
When developing your own lesson plan, include teaching the same course. Not everything that
what elements work best for your own purposes. works for others will work for you, but this is an
Structurally, most lesson plans have five common excellent way to learn new approaches and
characteristics and are no longer than a page. compare results.
1. List of learning outcomes or learning The pieces and parts of a lesson plan template
objectives. Identify the goals you would like to can be changed and modified according to the
accomplish stated in terms of student needs of the instructor. The purposes of
outcomes. instructional planning, however, should remain
2. Pre-class preparation. List items for the lesson. constant. Those purposes are alignment,
These can include: technology, handouts, saved effective execution, and ongoing reflection and
files, videos or DVDs, etc. Also note student refinement.
preparation to be completed before class. Alignment
3. Sequences of in-class activities. Many At its most basic level, a lesson plan attempts to
instructors use an outline to organize or ensure effective alignment among:
architect a sequence of classroom experiences.
1. The stated learning outcomes
Remember that the activities selected should
2. The activities undertaken to achieve those
align with your learning objectives. Using a
goals
lead-in or hook to arouse interest in the topic is
3. The way in which achievement of the goals will
a common opening strategy. As you plan,
be recognized and assessed
decide on the amount of time you anticipate
spending on each subsequent activity. Include You’ve probably seen classes designed around an
a list of discussion questions, case studies, engaging activity that has little to do with the
group activities, or practice problems. This course objectives. Likewise, you’ve probably
section is more than a list of topics to cover in a experienced the difficulty of assessing against the
particular order. Here, an instructor separates stated outcomes, when the classroom
the classroom time into discrete activities experiences didn’t align well with those
based on outcomes or on natural points of outcomes. Planning helps align answers to the
transition within the class time. following questions:
4. Wrap up. Record any final thoughts or open 1. What are the students supposed to learn?
questions you would like to leave with the 2. What will be done to promote that learning?
students. When appropriate, plan time for a 3. How will I know when learning has occurred?
student reflection activity. At times, you may
want to remind students of any homework to Effective Execution
complete or new preparation for the next Lesson planning, when done well, not only
lesson. improves alignment, but aids in the successful
5. Notes. Consider any special needs that execution of a lesson. A plan allows for you to
individuals may have. List the names of specific check the activities you have designed against the
http://www.byui.edu/learning-and-teaching

©Copyright 2015 BYU–Idaho 9/10/2015


time available so that the most important activities TEACH ONE PREPARE PROVE
ANOTHER/PONDER
don’t get pushed aside. It reminds you of the quiet
student you need to call upon and the one with
Week
#
Date Outcomes Topics & Activities Preparation
Assignment
Due
Today

whom you need to follow up. It helps you insure


continuity between lessons, linking past learning to
current ideas while preparing for future classes.
• If formally planning each lesson seems too rigid,
an instructor might choose to plan at the unit
Planning even allows you or your whole department
level. Unit planning captures the sweep of an
to integrate a curriculum across a sequence of
entire section of the course and can be profitably
courses, ensuring that each class builds upon those
modeled on the learning model process of
that preceded it.
Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder/Prove.
Reflection and Refinement • Deciding on a reflection activity for the end of
Lesson plans also act as a concrete record of the class helps an instructor to tighten the content
class experience from which you can take notes, presentation and avoid the tendency to talk until
indicate what worked last time, and polish the plan the time is up.
for the next time. This kind of record is necessary if
an instructor hopes to develop professionally by
TIPS
reflecting on past performance.
• Examine other templates. 1000s of lesson plan
Perhaps the most important role of a lesson plan is templates exist on the internet, each with
that it helps you move away from the coverage strengths and weaknesses. Planning is the most
model of education and the teach-by-telling model important thing, not the form itself.
of instruction. It serves as a reminder that the • Understand the plan’s purpose. A lesson plan is
lesson needs to be experienced by the student, not like a budget; it is a good place to start. Remain
just heard. flexible.
A lesson plan is not a list of the material to cover. It • Utilize your peers. You need not start from
shouldn’t remind you to “cover chapter 12”; the scratch; tap peers and Internet resources.
syllabus does that. Rather, it will urge you to
consciously design how students are going to PITFALLS
effectively engage and experience the material in • Plans dictate the course. Lesson plans that are
chapter 12. too detail-oriented can become overly
Through instructional planning, information prescriptive and leave little room for real-time
becomes the precursor to learning rather than its adjustments.
substitute.
KEY ARTICLES
EXAMPLE Prégent, Richard. (2000). Charting your course: How
For many instructors in higher education, lesson to prepare to teach more effectively. Madison,
planning can seem overly time-intensive if not Wisconsin: Atwood Publishing.
superfluous. While no one expects an expert in his Skowron, Janice. (2006). Powerful lesson planning:
or her discipline to create a five-page lesson plan for Every teacher’s guide to effective instruction.
every class period (although some do), a one page Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
plan is not an outrageous expectation. Beyond the
one page plan, there are many simple ways to RESOURCES
implement the principles of instructional planning • Lesson Plan Template
into a college course. For example: • Lesson Plan Template Variation
• An instructor might expand the standard syllabus • Lesson Plan Template Pathwise
columns to include “Purposes” and “Learning • Lesson Plan Template Stopme+
Outcomes,” “Planned Activities,” or even “Central • Board Plan Template
Questions” to the class experience.

http://www.byui.edu/learning-and-teaching
©Copyright 2015 BYU–Idaho 9/10/2015