Lesson Planning

Teacher with lesson plan in hand
What is Lesson Planning?

Lesson planning is the process of creating a daily plan to guide student learning. CCIT recommends the process described In Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2012). In this model, lesson planning begins with the end in mind. However, the “end” is not far away!  Wiggins and McTighe propose the following stages of backward design:

  1. Identify desired results.
  2. Determine assessment evidence.
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction
    - This is where lesson planning occurs using the unit goals
       as the context for the planning. 

Why is Lesson Planning Important?

Few factors are as vital to teaching success as having well-designed lessons. Imagine a doctor who does not plan adequately for surgery, a contractor who builds a house as he pounds along using scrap lumber and duct tape wherever he finds them, or a teacher teaching a lesson with no foundation or clear direction. Students attain desired learning outcomes through excellent lessons. (Cunningham, 2009, para. 11) 

What Format is Suggested for Lesson Plans?

Many different lesson plan templates exist, each having their own unique details. Lesson plans are typically created for a single class session. In an online course, the lesson plan may be created by module, week, or topic. CCIT suggests the  minimum components seen below. Within these components, be cognisant of how much time is being spent to ensure that there is enough material for the allotted time (and conversely not too much material).

  Essential Questions. What question from your unit plan will focus this lesson? Lesson objectives can be used to develop an essential question (EQ). The EQ should frame the lesson as a problem to be solved, and students should know this question up-front because the rest of the lesson will be guided by this question(s). Not all essential questions can be answered with a short sentence. Instead, many stimulate thinking and lead to more questions (Wiggins and McTighe
Click here to learn more about Essential Questions
2005). Wiggins and MicTighe explain that essential questions can be broken down as topical (more specific) or overarching (more general). The topical EQs will have a more concise answer whereas the overarching ones may not. A unit may have as many as eight or more essential questions. In the context of lesson essential questions, typically one to three essential questions guide a lesson. Wiggins and McTigue (2005) provide types of essential questions you can include in a lesson plan (see link to the right).
   
  Materials Needed. List all the materials and equipment you will need for this lesson.
   
  Activating Strategy (no longer than 10 minutes). How will you hook students or build necessary knowledge? Begin every lesson with an activating strategy, which is a technique to “activate students’ prior knowledge through the use of engaging strategies designed to focus learning” (US Digital Literacy, n.d., para. 1).
   
  Teaching. Chunk the lesson into intervals no longer than 15-20 minutes.
   
  Guided practice can be embedded within the lesson chunks (if appropriate). Guided practice is interactive instruction between the instructor and students. After you teach, begin the student practice process by engaging students in a similar task to what they will complete later in the lesson independently (assignment). The practice process is often effectively done with a partner and will act as formative assessment building up to the assignment.
   
  Formative assessment. At the end of each chunk, determine how you will ensure students have learned the material. Your guided practice may be part of your formative assessment and may utilize varying teaching strategies such as  think-pair-share, quick write, thumbs up/thumbs down, a short set of problems to do with a partner, etcetera.
   
  Summary (approximately 10 minutes). How will students summarize the lesson? (Ex:  3-2-1, exit ticket, writing).
   
  Assignment(s) What summative assessment will students complete to reinforce understanding? This may be where the independent practice takes place. 
 Click here to download Lesson Plan 1 Template and Sample  Click here to download Lesson Plan 2 Template and Sample
The above lesson plan documents will download to your download folder as MSWord documents that you can edit.


Cunningham, G. (2009).  Lesson Plans and Unit Plans: The Basis for Instruction. In

The new teacher's companion practical wisdom for succeeding in the classroom (Chapter 7). Available from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109051/chapters/Lesson-Plans-and-Unit-Plans@-The-Basis-for-Instruction.aspx 

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2012). Understanding By Design Framework. Retrieved November 19, 2015, from http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/UbD_WhitePaper0312.pdf 

US Digital Literacy. (n.d.). Activating Strategies. Retrieved from http://digitalliteracy.us/activating-strategies/

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (expanded 2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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