How to Make a Lesson Plan

How to Make a Lesson Plan

Making an effective lesson plan takes time, diligence, and an understanding of your students' goals and abilities. The goal, as with all teaching, is to motivate the students to take in what you are teaching and to retain as much as possible. This wikiHow will provide some ideas that will help you get the most out of your class.


[Edit]Sample Lesson Plans

[Edit]Creating the Basic Structure

  1. Know your objective.[1] At the beginning of every lesson, write your lesson plan goal at the top. It should be incredibly simple. Something like, "Students will be able to identify different animal body structures that enable eating, breathing, moving, and thriving." Basically, it's what your students can do after you're done with them! If you want to do a bit extra, add how they might do this (through video, games, flashcards, etc.).
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    • If you're working with very young students, you may have more basic aims like "Improving reading or writing skills." It can be skill-based or conceptual. See the related wikiHow on how to write an educational objective for more specific information.
  2. Write your overview.[2] Use broad strokes to outline the big ideas for the class. For example, if your class is about Shakespeare's Hamlet, your overview might include covering where in the Shakespearean canon "Hamlet" resides; how factual the history described might be; and how themes of desire and subterfuge might relate to current events.
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    • This depends on the length of your class. We'll cover about half a dozen basic steps to any lesson, all of which should be included in your overview. You're welcome to have more, however.
  3. Plan your timeline.[3] If there's a lot to cover in a fixed amount of time, break your plan into sections that you can speed up or slow down to accommodate changes as they happen. We'll use a 1-hour class as an example.
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    • 1:00-1:10: Warm up. Bring class into focus and recap yesterday's discussion on great tragedies; relate it to Hamlet.[4]
    • 1:10-1:25: Present information. Discuss Shakespearean history briefly, focusing on his creative period 2 years before and after Hamlet.
    • 1:25-1:40: Guided practice. Class discussion regarding major themes in the play.[5]
    • 1:40-1:55: Freer practice. Class writes single paragraph describing current event in Shakespearean terms. Individually encourage bright students to write 2 paragraphs, and coach slower students.[6]
    • 1:55-2:00: Conclusion. Collect papers, assign homework, dismiss class.
  4. Get to know your students. Identify clearly who you are going to educate. What is their learning style (visual, auditory, tactile or a combination)? What might they already know, and where might they be deficient? Focus your plan to fit the overall group of students you have in class, and then make modifications as necessary to account for students with disabilities, those who are struggling or unmotivated, and those who are gifted.
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    • Odds are you'll be working with a pile of extroverts and introverts. Some students will benefit more from working alone while others will thrive in pair work or in groups. Knowing this will help you format activities to different interaction preferences.[7]
    • You'll also wind up having a few students that know just about as much as you do on the topic (unfortunately!) and some that, while smart, look at you like you're speaking Neptunian. If you know who these kids are, you'll know how to pair them up and divide them (to conquer!).
  5. Use multiple student interaction patterns.[8] Some students do well on their own, others in pairs, and yet others in big groups. So long as you're letting them interact and build off each other, you're doing your job. But since each student is different, try to allow opportunities for all types of interactions. Your students (and the cohesion of the class) will be better for it!
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    • Really, any activity can be manipulated to be done separately, in pairs, or in groups. If you have ideas already mapped out, see if you can revamp them at all to mix it up. It often just encompasses finding more pairs of scissors!
  6. Address a variety of learning styles.[9] You're bound to have some students that can't sit through a 25-minute video and others who can't be bothered to read a two-page excerpt from a book. Neither is dumber than the other, so do them a service by switching up your activities to utilize every student's abilities.
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    • Every student learns differently.[10] Some need to see the info, some need to hear it, and others need to literally get their hands on it. If you've spent a great while talking, stop and let them talk about it. If they've been reading, come up with a hands-on activity to put their knowledge to use. They'll get less bored, too!

[Edit]Planning Out the Stages

  1. Warm them up. At the beginning of every class, the students' brains aren't primed yet for the content. If someone just started explaining open heart surgery, you'd probably be all, "Woah, woah. Slow down. Go back to "take the scalpel."" Ease them into it. That's what the warm up is for -- it not only gauges their knowledge, but it gets them into your groove.[11]
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    • The warm up can be a simple game (possibly about vocab on the topic to see where their current knowledge lies (or what they remember from last week!) or it can be questions, a mingle, or pictures used to start a conversation. Whatever it is, get them talking. Get them thinking about the topic (even if you don't explicitly say it yet).
  2. Present the information. That's just about as straightforward as it gets, huh? However your format, you need to start with the information presented. It could be a video, a song, text, or even a concept. It's the very core the entire lesson is based on. Without this, the students will go nowhere.
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    • Depending on your students' levels, you may have to go pretty bare bones. Think about how far back you need to go. The sentence "He put the coat on the rack" makes no sense if you don't know what "coat" and "rack" mean. Give them the very basic concept and let the next lesson (or two) cultivate it.
    • You may find it useful to flat out tell the students what they'll be learning. That is, give them your objective. You can't make it any clearer than that! That way, they'll walk away knowing what they learned that day. No two ways around it!
  3. Do a guided practice. Now that the students have received the information, you need to devise an activity that allows them to put it into action. However, it's still new to them, so start off with an activity that has training wheels. Think worksheets, matching, or using pictures. You wouldn't write an essay before you do a fill-in-the-blank!
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    • If you have time for two activities, all the better. It's a good idea to test their knowledge on two different levels -- for example, writing and speaking (two very different skills). Try to incorporate different activities for students that have different aptitudes.
  4. Check their work and assess their progress. After the guided practice, assess your students. Do they seem to understand what you've presented so far? If so, great. You can move on, possibly adding more difficult elements of the concept or practicing harder skills. If they're not getting it, go back to the information. How do you need to present it differently?
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    • If you've been teaching the same group for a while, odds are you know the students who might struggle with certain concepts. If that's the case, pair them with stronger students to keep the class going. You don't want certain students left behind, but you also don't want the class held up, waiting for everyone to get on the same level.
  5. Do a freer practice. Now that the students have the basics, allow them to exercise their knowledge on their own. That doesn't mean you leave the room! It just means they get to do a more creative endeavor that lets their minds really wrap around the information you've presented to them. How can you let their minds flourish?
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    • It all depends on the subject at hand and the skills you want to use. It can be anything from a 20-minute puppet making project to a two-week long dalliance with the oversoul in a heated debate on transcendentalism.
  6. Leave time for questions. If you have a class with ample time to cover the subject matter, leave ten minutes or so at the end for questions. This could start out as a discussion and morph into more probing questions on the issue at hand. Or it could just be time for clarification -- both will benefit your students.
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    • If you have a group full of kids that can't be paid to raise their hands, turn them amongst themselves. Give them an aspect of the topic to discuss and 5 minutes to converse about it. Then bring the focus to the front of the class and lead a group discussion. Interesting points are bound to pop up!
  7. Conclude the lesson concretely. In a sense, a lesson is like a conversation. If you just stop it, it seems like it's left hanging in mid-air. It's not's just sort of a strange, uncomfortable feeling. If time allots for it, sum up the day with the students. It's a good idea to literally show them they've learned something!
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    • Take five minutes to go over concepts for the day. Ask them concept-checking questions (not introducing new information) to reiterate what the both of you have done and gained from the day. It's sort of a full-circle type of thing, book-ending your work!

[Edit]Being Prepared

  1. If you're nervous, script it out. New teachers will find solace in scripting out a lesson. While this takes way more time than a lesson should, if it would help you, do it. It may ease your nerves if you know exactly what questions you want to ask and where you want the conversation to go.
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    • As you teach, do this less and less. Eventually, you'll be able to go in with practically nothing at all. You shouldn't be spending more time planning and writing out than you are delivering! Just use this as an initial training device.
  2. Allow for wiggle room. You've written out your timeline to the minute, right? Fantastic -- but know that's only really for reference. You're not going to say, "Kids! It's 1:15! STOP EVERYTHING YOU'RE DOING." That's not really how teaching works. While you should try to stick to this plan within reason, you'll need to allow yourself some wiggle room.
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    • If you find yourself running over, know what you can and cannot scratch. What must you cover in order for the children to learn most? What is just fluff and time killers? On the other side of the coin -- if you have time left over, have another activity in your sleeve to pull out if need be.
  3. Over-plan the class. Knowing that you have plenty to do is a much better problem than not having enough. Even though you have a timeline, plan on the underside. If something might take 20 minutes, allow it 15. You never know what your students will just whiz through!
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    • The easiest thing to do is to come up with a quick concluding game or discussion. Throw the students together and have them discuss their opinions or ask questions.
  4. Make it so a substitute could understand. On the off chance something happens and you can't teach the lesson, you'll want to have a plan someone else could understand. The other side of this is if you write it in advance and forget, it'll be easier to jog your memory if it's clear.
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    • There are many templates you can find online -- or ask other teachers what format they use. If you stick to one it'll be better for your brain, too. The more consistencies, the better!
  5. Form a back-up plan. In your teaching career, you're going to have days where students whiz through your plan and leave you dumbfounded. You'll also have days where tests got moved, half the class showed up, or the video you had planned got eaten by the DVD player. When this day rears its ugly head, you gotta have a back-up plan.[12]
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    • Most veteran teachers have a handful of lesson plans under their belt that they can whip out at any time. If you had a particularly successful lesson on Punnett squares, keep that material for later. You can turn it into a different lesson with another class about evolution, natural selection, or genes depending on the next class' ability. Or you could have a lesson on Beyoncé up your sleeve (think the civil or women's rights movement, progression of pop music, or just a music lesson for a Friday afternoon). Whichever.



  • Be prepared to divert from the lesson plan. Plan how to guide the class's attention back to you when it wanders.
  • Preview new material with the students and give them their study goals a week or two in advance.
  • Be clear that you will expect them to respond to questions in class by a certain date.
  • After the class ends, review your plan and how it worked in actuality. What will you do differently next time?
  • Remember to match what you are teaching with your state or local school district standards.
  • If lesson plans aren't your thing, consider the Dogme teaching method. It involves no textbooks and allows the students to take control.[13]

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