Write Lesson Plans

Tips for Effective Planning for Grades Seven Through 12

A teacher works on a lesson plan.
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Writing lesson plans ensures that you are addressing the requirements of the curriculum, effectively planning teaching time, and using the best strategies to address student needs.  Your school district may already have a template, or you can use a general lesson plan template as you work through creating your lesson plans.

Before Writing the Plan

Begin with the end in mind. Ask the following questions:

  • What do you want the students to learn from this lesson?
  • What state or national standards are you meeting?
  • What does the curriculum from your state or your district require?
  • What are the needs of your students in meeting the requirements of the curriculum?

Once you've determined this, write a quick description and list out your objectives for the assignment. Ensure that you will provide extra support to students who do not have the skills to meet the objective. Keep a vocabulary list that uses academic vocabulary words that you can access as you write out your lesson plan procedure.

Additionally, decide content vocabulary students will need as well. This will help you remember terms that you need to make sure the students understand as they work through the lesson. Create a materials list and add to this as you write your procedure so that you know exactly what you will need including audiovisual equipment, the number of copies you'll need, other required materials, and even the page numbers from books you plan to cover.

Creating the Lesson Plan

Determine if the lesson is new learning or a review. Decide how you will begin the lesson. For example, decide whether to use a simple oral explanation for the lesson or a pre-activity to determine what students know.

Decide the method(s) you will use to teach the content of your lesson. For example, does it lend itself to independent reading, lecture, or whole group discussion? Will you target instruction for certain students by grouping? Sometimes it is best to use a combination of these methods, varying teaching techniques: beginning with a few minutes of lecture—such as five minutes—followed by an activity in which students apply what you taught or a short whole-group discussion to ensure that the students understand what you have taught them.

Decide how you will have the students practice the skill/information you just taught them. For example, if you have taught them about the use of a map in a particular country or town, envision how you will have them practice this information to truly gain an understanding of the material. You might have them complete independent practice, use a whole-group simulation, or allow students to work cooperatively on a project. The key is to get students to practice the information you have presented.

Once you determine how students will practice the skills that you taught them, decide how you will know that they understood what was taught. This could be a simple show of hands or something more formal as a 3-2-1 exit slip. Sometimes a game activity can be an effective way to review, or if the technology is available, a kahoot! quiz.

Review the draft lesson plan to determine any accommodations you need to make for your class including accommodations for English-language learners and special education students. Once you have completed your lesson plan, include any details such as homework assignments. Make any copies of handouts needed and gather materials for the lesson.

Tips and Hints

Always start with the final assessment, showing that students understand the material you have presented. Knowing the assessments will leave you better able to focus the lesson on what is essential. Additionally:

  • Refer regularly to curriculum documents and pacing guides.
  • Try not to rely solely on your textbook for lessons, but do ensure that you evaluate any other source you might use like other books, other teachers, written resources, and internet web pages.
  • Some school districts require standards to be listed on the lesson plans while others do not. Make sure that you check with your school district.

Always overplan: It is much easier to cut things out of a plan or continue it the next day than fill 15 or 20 extra minutes. If possible, connect homework to real life. This will help reinforce what the students should be learning.