Six Common Mistakes in Writing Lesson
(and what to do about them)
Dr. Bob Kizlik
October 11, 2014
THE LESSON PLAN
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
Let's look at each part
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
2. Information about
the amount of time you estimate it will take to implement the
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
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
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
4. What do the
students do? This
means a description of what the students will do during the
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
As an example, below
is a template that I have used successfully to teach students to
write lesson plans:
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
research indicates that up to 70% of what a student learns
is dependent on his or her possessing the appropriate
Objective: Indicate what is to be learned - this
must be a complete
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
behavioral verbs on
my web site. Make sure your objective relates to the content
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.
and Equipment: List all materials and equipment to
be used by both the teacher and learner and how they
will be used..
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
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
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
To see some lesson
plans developed by education students using the template
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.
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.
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
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.
(show) - The
teacher shows in graphic form or demonstrates what the
finished product looks like - a picture worth a thousand
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
The teacher releases students to practice on their own
based on #3-#6.
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.
"Anything not understood in more
than one way is not understood at all."
thriller novel I wrote for the Kindle:
The Bucci Strain: Imprint
Robert Kizlik &