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Six Common Mistakes in Writing Lesson Plans
(and what to do about them)

Dr. Bob Kizlik

Part 2

January 3,  2017


1. Preliminary Information

The development of a lesson plan begins somewhere, and a good place to start is with a list or description of general information about the plan. This information sets the boundaries or limits of the plan. Here is a good list of these information items: (a) the grade level of the students for whom the plan is intended; (b) the specific subject matter (mathematics, reading, language arts, science, social studies, etc.); (c) if appropriate, the name of the unit of which the lesson is a part; and (d) the name of the teacher.

2. The Parts

Each part of a lesson plan should fulfill some purpose in communicating the specific content, the objective, the learning prerequisites, what will happen, the sequence of student and teacher activities, the materials required, and the actual assessment procedures. Taken together, these parts constitute an end (the objective), the means (what will happen and the student and teacher activities), and an input (information about students and necessary resources). At the conclusion of a lesson, the assessment tells the teacher how well students actually attained the objective.

In a diagram, the process looks something like this:

Input ======>process=====>output

Let's look at each part separately.

Input: This part refers to the physical materials, other resources, and information that will be required by the process. What are these inputs? First of all, if you have thought about what the lesson is supposed to accomplish, the inputs are much easier to describe. In general categories, inputs consist of:

1. Information about the students for whom the lesson is intended. This information includes, but is not limited to the age and grade level of the students, and what they already know about what you want them to learn.

2. Information about the amount of time you estimate it will take to implement the lesson.

3. Descriptions of the materials that will be required by the lesson, and at some point, the actual possession of the materials.

4. Information about how you will acquire the physical materials required.

5. Information about how to obtain any special permissions and schedules required. For example if your lesson plan will require a field trip, you must know how to organize it. If your lesson will require a guest speaker (fire chief, lawyer, police officer, etc.) you must know how to make arrangements for having that person be at the right place at the right time.


This is the actual plan. If you have done the preliminary work (thinking, describing the inputs), creating the plan is relatively easy. There are a number of questions you must answer in the creating the plan:

1. What are the inputs? This means you have the information (content description, student characteristics, list of materials, prerequisites, time estimates, etc.) necessary to begin the plan.
2. What is the output?This means a description of what the students are supposed to learn.
3. What do I do?
 This means a description of the instructional activities you will use.
4. What do the students do? This means a description of what the students will do during the lesson.
5. How will the learning be measured? This means a description of the assessment procedure at the end of the lesson. For a short discourse on how to write an assessment, click here.

As an example, below is a template that I have used successfully to teach students to write lesson plans:

Lesson Plan Format:

Teacher_______________________________________ Subject_________________________
Grade Level_________________ 

I. Content: This is a statement that relates to the subject-matter content. The content may be a concept or a skill. Phrase this as follows: I want my students to: (be able to [name the skill]) OR (I want my students to understand [a description of the concept]). Often times, this content is predetermined or strongly suggested by the specific curriculum you are implementing through your teaching.

II. Prerequisites: Indicate what the student must already know or be able to do in order to be successful with this lesson. (You would want to list one or two specific behaviors necessary to begin this lesson). Some research indicates that up to 70% of what a student learns is dependent on his or her possessing the appropriate prerequisites.

III. Instructional Objective: Indicate what is to be learned - this must be a complete objective. Write this objective in terms of what an individual student will do, not what a group will do. Limit your objective to one behavioral verb. The verb you choose must come from the list of defined behavioral verbs on my web site. Make sure your objective relates to the content statement above.

IV. Instructional Procedures: Description of what you will do in teaching the lesson, and, as appropriate, includes a description of how you will introduce the lesson to the students, what actual instructional techniques you will use, and how you will bring closure to the lesson. Include what specific things students will actually do during the lesson. In most cases, you will provide some sort of summary for the students.

V. Materials and Equipment: List all materials and equipment to be used by both the teacher and learner and how they will be used..

VI. Assessment/Evaluation: Describe how you will determine the extent to which students have attained the instructional objective. Be sure this part is directly connected to the behavior called for in the instructional objective.

VII. Follow-up Activities: Indicate how other activities/materials will be used to reinforce and extend this lesson. Include homework, assignments, and projects.

VIII. Self-Assessment (to be completed after the lesson is presented): Address the major components of the lesson plan, focusing on both the strengths, and areas of needed improvement. Determine here how you plan to collect information that will be useful for planning future lessons. A good idea is to analyze the difference between what you wanted (the objective) and what was attained (the results of the assessment).

Of course, there is an immense difference between being able to plan and actually being able to carry out the plan. However, if you have thought carefully about where you are going before you begin writing your plan, the chances of your success, as well as the success of your students, are much greater.

To see a somewhat different, yet effective approach to lesson planning, click here for Lesson Plans the Easy Way! 
To see examples of verbs used in behavioral objectives, click here.
To see some lesson plans developed by education students using the template above, click here.


The Madeline Hunter Lesson Design Model

Madeline Hunter's eight steps have stood the test of time. Below is a brief description of each. Understanding these components will add to your understanding of how to plan a lesson, and is useful for the model presented above.

1. Anticipatory Set (focus) - A short activity or prompt that focuses the students' attention before the actual lesson begins. Used when students enter the room or in a transition. A hand-out given to students at the door, review question written on the board, "two problems" on the overhead are examples of the anticipatory set.

2. Purpose (objective) - The purpose of today's lesson, why the students need to learn it, what they will be able to "do", and how they will show learning as a result are made clear by the teacher.

3. Input - The vocabulary, skills, and concepts the teacher will impart to the students - the "stuff" the kids need to know in order to be successful.

4. Modeling (show) - The teacher shows in graphic form or demonstrates what the finished product looks like - a picture worth a thousand words.

5. Guided Practice (follow me) - The teacher leads the students through the steps necessary to perform the skill using the trimodal approach - hear/see/do.

6. Checking For Understanding (CFU) - The teacher uses a variety of questioning strategies to determine "Got it yet?" and to pace the lesson - move forward?/back up?

7. Independent Practice - The teacher releases students to practice on their own based on #3-#6.

8. Closure - A review or wrap-up of the lesson - "Tell me/show me what you have learned today".

Please feel free to comment on the ideas expressed on this page. The ADPRIMA web site is intended to give you both information and to stimulate your thinking about teaching and learning. In short, your growth as a student or teacher depends on your willingness to learn and think. To that end, I hope this information is useful to you.

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Robert Kizlik & Associates

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