Foundations of Lesson Planning
Take a few minutes to write a lesson objective. Think about a lesson you teach, and what it is you want your students to know or do a result of the lesson? How will they demonstrate their learning?
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:
- Identify desired results.
- Determine assessment evidence.
- 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 has provided two lesson templates and samples for use or modification.
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 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. Click here for more information on essential questions.
Four Elements of Lesson Plans
Now that you know why lesson plans are necessary and have looked at a few templates and samples, let’s explore the 4 main elements to include in your learning activities: activating strategies, direct instruction, guided practice, and summarizing strategies.
Begin the lesson with an an activating strategy (AS), which is a technique to “activate students’ prior knowledge through use of engaging strategies designed to focus learning. The AS should be engaging to hook students with emotion to create attentive, curious, and excited learners. Whether using humor or drama, something visual or creating a mood by storytelling, emotional engagement is key to getting students attention from the start.” (U.S. Digital Literacy)
One type of activating strategy is known as a KWL Chart. These charts used prior to the study of new material, a discussion, a reading, or an event. Students are asked to brainstorm all of the things they Know or Want to know about a particular topic. The chart is typically set up in three columns with the letters K, W, L at the top of each column. The letter “L” stands for what you have Learned (Ogle, 1986).
Click here to download the KWL Template. Then, follow the steps below to get an understanding of how to use it.
- What do you already know about the four parts of lesson planning? (Enter in the “K” column)
- What do you want to know? (Enter in the “W” column)
- Think about these two questions and compile a list.
- You will fill in “L” column as the summarizing strategy later.
- Whenever possible, use multi-sensory methods.
- For out of class lesson, assign reading, video, or some other activity where students have access to the content.
- Direct instruction (teaching) is paired with guided practice
- Direct instruction should be 10-15 minutes in length and then followed by Guided Practice/Formative Assessment (Adult attention span)
- This should be the rhythm of your class.
- After each 10-15 minute chunk, you need to ensure that your students have “gotten” what you have taught. (Formative Assessment)
- This is where students can get active and engaged in the content!
- What kinds of activities do you use to check that your students are understanding material?
- Students should be able to answer the essential question/big idea/objective for the day.
- Click here to download some summarizing strategies.
- Pick two that you can also put on your note card and use in your classroom.
- Summarizing strategies should allow students to synthesize information from the lesson.
- If using a KWL, What they have learned would be placed into the “L” column of the KWL Chart
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.