Writing a Lesson Plan: Guided Practice

Teacher helping one of four pupils (8-11) sitting at desk and reading
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In this series about lesson plans, we're breaking down the 8 steps you need to take to create an effective lesson plan for the elementary classroom. Independent Practice is the sixth step for teachers, coming after defining the following steps:

Writing a Guided Practice section is the fourth step in writing an effective and strong 8-step lesson plan for the elementary school classroom. In the Guided Practice section of your written lesson plan, you will outline how your students will demonstrate that they have grasped the skills, concepts, and modeling that you presented to them in the Direct Instruction portion of the lesson. This is where you let them work independently while they are still in the classroom, providing a supportive learning environment where you can empower them to work on their own, but still offer support. 

Typically, you'll provide an in-class assignment to work on. While you walk around the classroom observing the students work, you can provide some limited assistance for the given activity. Often, a worksheet, illustration or drawing project, experiment, writing assignment, or another type of activity works well in this situation. Whatever you assign, the students should be able to perform the task and be held accountable for the lesson's information. 

The Guided Practice activities can be defined as either individual or cooperative learning. Working in small groups can allow the students to support each other, but it's important to make sure that all students are actively engaged and showing mastery over the assignment at hand.

As a teacher, you should observe the students' level of mastery of the material in order to inform your future teaching. Additionally, provide focused support for individuals needing extra help to reach the learning goals. Correct any mistakes that you observe.

Examples of Guided Practice in Your Lesson Plan

  • Students may want to split into pairs to work together on a drawing.
  • On a piece of paper, students will draw a picture of plants, incorporating characteristics they learned about in this lesson (listed on board).
  • On the other side of the paper, students will draw a picture of animals, incorporating characteristics they learned about in this lesson (listed on board).
  • Students complete a book review that corresponds to what they are reading.
  • Students edit and rewrite an essay.
  • Students follow guided reading procedures as they are instructed by their teacher.

Common Questions for Guided Practice

Is homework considered guided practice? Often new teachers mistake guided practice as independent practice. However, guided practice is NOT considered to be independent practice, therefore, homework is not a part of guided practice. Guided practice is intended to be done with the teachers around and available for assistance.

Do you have to model before you give independent practice? Yes, you do. Guided practice is modeling for the students. It is essentially the easiest part of the lesson because you are just doing the learning objective. Students learn from modeling. 

Are guided practice questions necessary? Although they are not necessary, they are a valuable teaching tool. Guided practice questions are a great way to help students understand a concept and it also helps you, the teacher, know if students are comprehending what you are teaching them.

Is guided practice considered modeling?  Guided practice is where the students take what they have learned and put it to the test with the help of the teacher. It can be a hands-on activity where students demonstrate their ability and knowledge of the subject matter and where the teacher is there to watch them, model for them, and guide them to find a solution.

Does it have to be a cooperative activity can be it be an individual activity?  As long as students are demonstrating their understanding of the concept it can be either or.

Difference Between Guided and Independent Practice

What is the difference between guided and independent practice? Guided practice is where the instructor helps to guide the students and does the work together, while independent practice is where students must complete the work by themselves without any help.

This is the section where students must be able to understand the concept that was taught and complete it on their own.

Edited by Stacy Jagodowski