Lesson Planning 101 – by Cheri

Failing to plan is planning to fail!  Boy, I learned this the hard way!  Trust me, you want a lesson plan and you want one that is going to meet the needs of you as a teacher and your students.  So, let’s talk about an effective lesson plan!

I must remind everyone, I went to college in the 90s…yes, I am old.  And, I was lucky enough to attend a satellite center of my university so I had some of the BEST educators as teachers and only a few students in class.  We LEARNED lesson planning…we just had to execute when we got our first teaching jobs…which was a whole other story!  I sure have learned a lot on this journey!

So, as I said, going to college in the 90s to study education we were taught to use the Madeline Hunter lesson cycle.  Honestly, it was the only lesson cycle that was ever discussed.  I found that I liked it.  Each piece has a purpose and helps the teacher ensure that they are TEACHING (which as a principal I have learned tends to be missed sometimes), what to use for practice, and how to assess for understanding.  Let me outline it below.

  • Objective – What skill you are going to teach.
  • Materials – What materials you need during your lesson.
  • Anticipatory Set – The introduction that will “hook” your students and get them excited to learn.
  • Input – Information from the teacher to the students.  I call this the “teaching” piece.
  • Model – Show students how to use the learning or complete the work.
  • Check for Understanding – Discussion/Questions that help the teacher know students are understanding the learning.
  • Guided Practice – Work related to the skill taught that students could do in pairs or groups.  Not graded work.
  • Closure – Review and remind students what they learned.  This wraps up the lesson.
  • Independent Practice – Independent work to show that students can apply the learning on their own.

Since I have gone to college, other lesson plan templates have been developed and used.  I tend to prefer this one over the others because I do believe it really does help the teacher prepare for what needs to take place to ensure students learn.  I have used it with my teachers at all of my campuses.  They find it very helpful as they plan learning.

As you start or refine your lesson planning practices, keep a few things in mind.

  1. You do not need to script your entire lesson.  I did that one summer…it took a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of attention away from time with my daughter…and I ended up not using the scripts.  The purpose for planning is so that you have a good idea in your mind what you will teach your students.  As long as you can do that, make your plans as detailed or simple as you need.
  2. Introducing a skill and then giving students a packet of worksheets is not going to ensure that they learn.  I have seen this and it does not work.  You do need to introduce the skill and you do need a way to gauge if students understand and can apply the learning, but you are missing a big piece if you don’t plan the INPUT part…the actual teaching piece.  If students did not need this, they would not be in your class.  Don’t forget to TEACH!
  3. Many teachers do not understand the closure of a lesson.  This is an opportunity for you and your students to reflect on what you have learned.  I like to encourage my teachers to use a process like this…”Ok, boys and girls, today we learned how to draw a conclusion in a piece of fiction by using clues within the story.  We read a story, discussed the story elements, and then talked about how to draw conclusions.  Can someone share one thing they learned today about drawing conclusions?”  After discussing this and having a few students take turns sharing what they learned, I have teachers wrap it up by saying, “Ok, can we check this skill off of the list of things we need to learn?  Do you feel you have learned it?”  And then they do what students respond.  Students love this and teachers find this process has made it easy for them to use and remember to provide a closure to their lessons.
  4. Many teachers participate in team planning (also known as collaborative planning).  I find this to be beneficial, as you can then share your ideas and get ideas from others.  I would remind you that if you plan with your team, just remember, your kids may or may not have the same needs as your teammates students.  Don’t be afraid to revise that original plan so that it meets the needs of your students.

I hope that as you continue to work toward excellence in the area of lesson planning, this information was helpful.  Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail!  That is the most important piece.  It does not matter what template you use or if you plan alone or with a team, just be sure to plan…it will definitely make your day (and life) smoother and much more enjoyable!

Sparkle on, my friends!




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