Effectively Writing Lesson Plans
September is here so if you are a teacher you are back in the routine of lesson planning, teaching, assessing and evaluating. For all educators our goal is for students to learn, and if you want to do that effectively you need to develop an instructional plan.
There is sometimes confusion about what a lesson plan is and what it is not. For example, a lesson plan is not a worksheet, directions or few notes in a calendar or plan book. At its simplest, a lesson plan is a teacher’s plan for teaching a lesson; however, a lesson plan is not a simple document. According to the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan, a lesson plan is, “the instructors road map of what students need to learn and how it will be done effectively during class time”. Lesson plans can be complex, systematic frameworks for instruction and assessment, they are a teacher’s road map of what she wants her students to know and do, including how the information will be presented, practiced and assessed. Regardless of how you define it or what name you put on it, all teachers agree that effective teaching begins with an effective lesson plan. Lets take a look at some of my favorite lesson plan tools.
Tools for Writing Lesson Plans
First, back to the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching who provides Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning. This is one of my favorite resources for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, the site defines a successful lesson plan as one which includes student learning objectives, teaching and learning activities and strategies for checking understanding. Objectives are to lesson plans like bumpers are to bowling! They help keep us focused on our goal and make sure we don’t go off track! Penn State University offers a great quick read on how to write effective objectives.
The next tool is an amazing website I recently stumbled upon but wish I had known about forever. Sharemylesson is a website by teachers, for teachers that provides a total of 267,308 free resources to date. The main resources provided are free standards aligned lesson plans. Right on the homepage they offer CCSS exemplar lessons for math and ELA and a common core blog. If you are interested in learning more about effective lesson planning with the common core, check out Catapult Learning’s most recent free webinar, Implementing The Common Core: 3 Keys for Success presented by Andrew Ordover, Ed.D. While on Catapult’s website you can also check out free sample lesson plans.
Finally, lets review several websites that offer formats for writing effective instructional plans. Madeline Hunter and Robert Gagne both provide a structured framework for instruction. Both frameworks have been implemented with success and used by millions of teachers for decades. Gagne’s nine levels of instruction, first published in 1965 are aimed at identifying and responding to the mental conditions necessary for effective learning. Madeline Hunter developed an ITIP (Instructional Theory into Practice) model for planning instruction. More recently, Robert Marzanno has offered his nine essential instructional strategies to include in every lesson and Authentic Education offers a conceptual approach to backwards planning with their Understanding By Design lesson planning model.
The next time you’re sitting down and writing lesson plans are you going to rethink your approach? What can you do to make your lesson more effective? Will you use a new framework? Borrow and then share a plan at Sharemylesson.com? Write a note in the comments and let’s collaborate on effective lesson planning!