Topics for a Lesson Plan Template

Outline to Create Effective Lesson Plans, Grades 7-12

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While every school may have different requirements for the writing of lesson plans or how often they are to be submitted, there are common enough topics that can be organized on a template or guide for teachers for any content area. A template such as this could be used in conjunction with the explanation How to Write Lesson Plans.

Regardless of the form used, teachers should be sure to keep these two most important questions in mind as they craft a lesson plan:

  1. What do I want my students to know? (objective)
  2. How will I know students learned from this lesson? (assessment)

The topics covered here in bold are those topics usually required in lesson plan regardless of subject area.

Class: the name of the class or classes for which this lesson is intended.  

Duration: Teachers should note the approximate time that this lesson will take to complete. There should be an explanation if this lesson will be extended over the course of several days.

Materials Required: Teachers should list any handouts and technology equipment that is required. Use of a template like this may be helpful in planning to reserve any media equipment in advance that might be needed for the lesson. An alternative non-digital plan may be needed. Some schools may require a copy of handouts or worksheets to be attached the lesson plan template.

Key Vocabulary: Teachers should develop a list of any new and unique terms that students need to understand for this lesson. 

The title of Lesson/Description: One sentence is usually enough, but a well- crafted title on a lesson plan can explain a lesson well enough so that even a brief description is unnecessary. 

Objectives: The first of a the lesson's two most important topics is the lesson's objective:

What is the reason or purpose for this lesson? What will students know or be able to do at the conclusion of this lesson(s)?

These questions drive a lesson's objective(s). Some schools focus on a teacher writing and placing the objective in view so that the students also understand what the purpose of the lesson will be. The objective(s) of a lesson defines the expectations for learning, and they give a hint on how that learning will be assessed.

Standards: Here teachers should list any state and/or national standards that the lesson addresses. Some school districts require teachers to prioritize the standards. In other words, placing a focus on those standards which are directly addressed in the lesson as opposed to those standards which are supported by the lesson. 

EL Modifications/Strategies: Here a teacher may list any EL (English learners) or other student modifications as required. These modifications can be designed as specific to needs of students in a class. Because many of the strategies used with EL students or other special needs students are strategies that are good for all students, this may be a place to list all instructional strategies used to improve student understanding for all learners (Tier 1 instruction). For example, there may be a presentation of new material in multiple formats (visual, audio, physical)  or there may be multiple opportunities for increased student interaction through "turn and talks" or "think, pair, shares".

Lesson Introduction/Opening set: This portion of the lesson should give a rationale how this introduction will help students make connections with the rest of the lesson or unit that is being taught. An opening set should not be busy work, but rather be a planned activity that sets the tone for the lesson that follows.

Step-by-Step Procedure: As the name implies, teachers should write down the steps in the sequence necessary to teach the lesson. This is a chance to think through each action necessary as a form of mental practice to better organize for the lesson. Teachers should also note down any materials they will need for each step in order to be prepared. 

Review/Possible Areas of Misconception: Teachers can highlight terms and/or ideas they anticipate may cause confusion, words they will want to revisit with the students at the end of the lesson. 

Homework: Note any homework that will be assigned to students to go with the lesson. This is only one method to assess student learning which can unreliable as a measurement

Assessment: Despite being the lone of the last topics on this template, this is the most important part of planning any lesson.  In the past, informal homework was one measure; high stakes testing was another.  Authors and educators Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigue  posed this in their seminal work "Backward Design": 

What will we [teachers] accept as evidence of student understanding and proficiency?

They encouraged teachers to begin designing a lesson by starting at the end. Every lesson should include a means to answer the question "How will I know students understand what was taught in a lesson? What will my students be able to do?"  In order to determine the answer to these questions, it is important to plan in detail how you plan to measure or evaluate student learning both formally and informally. 

For example, will the evidence of understanding be an informal exit slip with student short responses to a question or prompt at the end of a lesson? Researchers (Fisher & Frey, 2004) suggested that exit slips can be generated for different purposes using differently worded prompts:

  • Use an exit slip with a prompt that records what was learned (Ex. Write one thing you learned today);
  • Use an exit slip with a prompt that allows for future learning (Ex. Write one question you have about today's lesson);
  • Use an exit slip with a prompt that helps to rate any the instructional strategies used strategies (EX: Was small group work helpful for this lesson?)

Similarly, teachers may choose to use a response poll or vote. A quick quiz may also provide important feedback. The traditional review of homework can also provide needed information to inform instruction. 

Unfortunately, too many secondary teachers do not use assessment or evaluation on a lesson plan to its best use. They may rely on more formal methods of assessing student understanding, such as a test or paper. These methods may come too late in providing the immediate feedback to improve daily instruction.

However, because assessing student learning may happen at a later time, such as an end-of-the-unit exam, a lesson plan may provide a teacher the opportunity to create assessment questions for use later. Teachers can "test" a question in order to see how well students may do answering that question at a later date. This will ensure that you have covered all required material and given your students the best chance at success.

Reflection/Evaluation: This is where a teacher may record the success of a lesson or make notes for future use. If this is a lesson that will be given repeatedly during the day, reflection may be an area where a teacher may explain or note any adaptations on a lesson that has been given several times over the course of a day. What strategies were more successful than other? What plans may be needed to adapt the lesson? This is the topic in a template where teachers could record any recommended changes in time, in materials, or in the methods used to assess student understanding. Recording this information can also be used as part of a school's evaluation process that asks teachers to be reflective in their practice.

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Kelly, Melissa. "Topics for a Lesson Plan Template." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Kelly, Melissa. (2023, April 5). Topics for a Lesson Plan Template. Retrieved from Kelly, Melissa. "Topics for a Lesson Plan Template." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).