Lesson planning is an essential part of our work as teachers and educators. It is our private lab where we put to work our knowledge of pedagogy, methodology, and learning to create instructional plans that facilitate knowledge construction in our classrooms. Depending on the pedagogical intent and the purposes for which they are created, lesson plans can vary from daily lesson plans, weekly lesson plans, unit lesson plans, topic lesson plans, and so and so forth.
I personally like to think of them as road maps or signposts that guide our teaching practice. I still remember how I used to religiously to them during my first years of teaching. I used to do everything according to the script.
While that helped me survive those early years as a novice teacher, I come to believe that lessons plans should never feel inhibitive or stand against unbridled exploration of new unexpected learning opportunities that might occur during the teaching process or what is referred to in the literature as incidental learning. In other words, plan your lesson well but provide for the unexpected and embrace it when it happens.
Lesson planning does take time and effort but it is all worth it. Combined with teacher planners, The pedagogical benefits of lesson planning are numerous including the fact that it helps organize and structure our teaching, saves us from the unsolicited embarrassment resulting from the vagaries of dead time in class, outline clear goals and expectations for students to meet, provides us with historical documents to use for future teaching projects, and many more.
When it comes to the components of a lesson plan there is no one-size-fits all. In fact, lesson plans can vary across different subject areas and grade levels.That being said, an effective lesson plan is one that helps translate theoretical and abstract insights into concrete comprehensible information with direct connection to students lived experiences.
This is usually done through the methodological help of hands-on, interactive, and student-centered activities where the focus is squarely placed on the product and the process. As such, an effective lesson plan is one that does not only facilitate students learning but one that helps them connect classroom learning to their immediate life thus creating authentic learning experiences.
What are the components of a lesson plan?
The anatomy of an effective lesson plan, I argue, is composed of a number of key components which are: introduction, body, assessment, and closure.
- The introductory section which sets the scene for the learning that is going to take place. It covers things such as the goals and objectives of the lesson, and a general overview of the lesson, topic of the lesson, etc.
- The body of the lesson is composed of different components including the actual subject content to be taught together with the different activities accompanying it.
- The procedural section is all about teaching methodology, that is, the different strategies and methods to be used in the teaching of the topic. These include guided and independent practice, group work activities, etc.
- The assessment section outlines the formative assessment methods to be used to check for students comprehension (e.g.m exit ticket, questionnaires, quizzes, open discussions, review activities, etc).
- The final section is closure. It wraps up the learning that takes place and creates connection to future learning experiences.
How to make your own lesson plan?
Now that we know the key components of an effective lesson plan let’s go ahead and talk about some of the tools and resources you can use to create your own custom lesson plans. Below is a collection I curated specifically for teachers and educators where they can access a wide variety of ready-made lesson plan templates that they can customize and use in their teaching. Alternatively, you can use these lesson planners to create your own lesson planners from scratch.
1. Adobe Express
Adobe Express offers a wide variety of ready-made lesson plan templates. Browse through the collection by ‘platform, task, aesthetic, mood, or color’. When you find the template you like click to open it in Adobe Express editor where you can personalize it and make it your own. For instance, you can ‘change up the copy and font.
Sub out the imagery with your own photos. Or browse thousands of free images right in Adobe Express. Spend as little or as much time as you want to make the graphic your own. With a premium plan, you can even automatically apply your school logo, colors, and fonts every time’.
2. Google Docs Lesson Plans
Google Docs templates gallery features some interesting pre-designed lesson plans that you can easily edit and use in your teaching. Simply select the template that interests you and click to open it in your Google Docs account. Once there you can personalize it to your liking.
Lucidpress is another platform where you can access a wide variety of professionally designed and customizable lesson plans to use in your teaching. There are basic lesson plan templates, single subject lesson plan templates, course syllabus lesson plans, teacher lesson plan book template, and many more. Using Lucidpress editor, you can personalize lesson plans right inside your browser and print them out for use in class.
PlanbookEdu provides teachers with the tools to easily create customizable lesson plans. You can attach any document (e.g., PDF, Word, ppt) or video to your lesson plans. PlanbookEdu integrates with Common Core Standards allowing teachers to quickly find and embed standards into their lesson plans. The free version of PlanbookEdu offers limited features, the premium version ($25 per year) offers way more features and resources.
Visme offers a large collection of customizable lesson plans to use with your students. These resources are arranged into different categories including kindergarten lesson plan templates, middle school lesson plan templates, high school lesson plan templates, science lesson plan templates, among others.
6.Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Pay Teachers offers this growing collection of both free and premium lesson plans that you can customize to suit your own teaching needs. You can search for specific templates using the following filters: formats, grades, CCSS, subjects, prices, and resources. A sample of currently popular templates in the site include Lesson Plan Template and Teacher Planner by Amu Hubbard, Eye of the Dragon: Art Lesson Plan, Guided Reading Lesson Plan Templates by JD’s Rockin’ Readers, and many more.
Teacher Planet features a large collection of ready-made lesson plan templates that you can browse by subject, grade level, type, and template creator. Examples of featured lesson plan templates include ESL lesson plan templates, daily lesson plan templates, Common Core templates, Language Arts lesson templates, weekly lesson plan templates, and more.
Template.net is a website that offers access to a huge collection of professionally designed templates that cover different areas including lesson planning. Simply type in ‘Lesson Plan’ in the search box and sift through the results.
Click on the one you like to edit and download it for use in your class. Examples of featured lesson plans include: Free Weekly Activity Plan Template, Unit of Study Lesson Plan, Teaching Lesson Plan, Daily Lesson Plan, Training Lesson Plan, Small Group Reading Lesson Plan, and more.
GooDocs offers editable lesson plan templates in Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Examples of featured lesson plans include: Standard Lesson Plan, Teachers Weekly Lesson Plan, Teachers Daily Lesson Plan, Reading Lesson Plan, Comic Lesson Plan, Preschool Lesson Plan, Colorful Lesson Plan, and many more.
Study.com offers a wide variety of lesson plan templates that ‘include essential elements like standards, learning objectives, materials, activities, and extensions for learning. Get a head start on creating effective, engaging lessons and help your students stay on track with printable lesson plan templates created by experienced teachers!’
Planning Lessons (chapter by Linda Jensen from the book Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Princeton Edu)
An Introductory Guide to Lesson Planning, by Chalk
Sample Lesson Plan for New Teachers, by Scholastic
Components of a Good Lesson Plan, by Study.com
The Power of Planning: 5 Ways to Learn Through Writing Lesson Plans, by Teaching Channel