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Essentials of lesson planning

Students gathered around a piece of medical equipment

The rationale for making a lesson plan derives from the theories of learning; this section will focus on the constructivist theory.

The lesson plan is designed around the learning objective(s), and provides learners with an opportunity to explore, build, and demonstrate their learning. This approach shifts the learning environment from one which is very teacher-centred to one that is very learner-centred.

All good teachers have a plan in mind when they deliver a teaching session; this could range from a simple checklist to a formal, detailed, structured, plan. Lesson plans are an essential part of the teacher’s toolbox and are developed by a teacher to guide the entire session so that every key part of the teaching session is appropriately planned, prepared and implemented in order to achieve the learning outcome(s).

A lesson plan traditionally includes details of the lesson, the learning outcomes to be covered, the methodology that will be used, the resources/ materials required, and the activities that will be carried out both to engage and assess the learners. The final part of the lesson plan addresses the evaluation of the session from the learners’ and tutors’ perspectives.

The Lesson Plan

Session title: Duration of session:
Tutor: Learner group:
Step 1 – Learning Outcomes
Identify learning outcomes (What is to be learned as a result of this lesson):
Step 2 – Learning plan
Methodology Structure of session (types/sequence/type and time of activities, role of students/ tutor at each stage):
Step 3 – Assessment
Before Lesson (how will you assess baseline knowledge/ understanding of learner group): After lesson (how will you assess if learning outcomes were achieved?):
Step 4 – Resources required
List resources required for each activity (Text books; journal articles; worksheets; handouts; flip charts, computers, projectors, internet access, etc):
Step 5 – Evaluation
Student evaluation (Was the session too difficult/ easy? Were learners motivated? Why/ why not? Did the students achieve the learning outcomes?) Teacher evaluation (Did your session plan and sequence of activities work? How did the learners behave? Did they remain interested throughout? Effective questioning/discussion? What have you learned? How would you amend/improve your input if you were to repeat this session in future?)

Please note: This form can be downloaded as a PDF at the bottom of this page in the Downloads section.

There are three general considerations to take into account when planning your teaching session:

a) The learning outcomes

Any teaching session needs to be carefully designed so that learners can achieve the learning outcomes for the session. The first step is to compile the learning outcomes for the session. Note that these may be provided to tutors based on learning outcomes from a previously designed curriculum (Step 1 of lesson plan).

Bloom’s taxonomy is often used for developing learning outcomes. It is based on three overlapping categories ordered in degree of difficulty; each category/ level must be mastered before progressing to the next. These are:

  • Cognitive domain (knowledge)
  • Affective domain (attitude)
  • Psychomotor domain (skills)

Bloom’s taxonomy can also be depicted as a pyramid that progresses from the simplest form of learning (recall) to the most complex (evaluate).

Bloom's taxonomy Bloom’s taxonomy (Click to expand)

b) The learners

Once the learning outcomes for the session are known, the next step (step 2 of lesson plan) is to select a teaching method that would be appropriate for the learner group size, their past experiences, and any other relevant characteristics of the group. Within the group of learners, skill levels might vary so you might consider whether to audit their baseline knowledge and skills before you begin your session (Step 3 of lesson plan). If you cannot do that, try to ensure that the teaching method and lesson materials take into account likely variations in knowledge and skill levels across the group.

The most effective learning takes place when it is relevant and timely so it should be based on real needs placed within appropriate contexts. Students learn very effectively from each other so do try to encourage peer learning/ peer instruction and design activities that provide formal and/or informal opportunities for students to share knowledge and skills. The more active the learning experience, the higher the learning achieved.

c) The practical requirements

Consider whether the teaching method you have selected (step 2 of lesson plan) is feasible given the physical environment (the type and size of the teaching room, its location, and facilities), the time available (both for preparation and teaching).

At this stage, start thinking about the materials and equipment you will require during your teaching session (Step 4 of lesson plan). Make a checklist to help you remember what you will need. This would include text books, journal articles, worksheets or handouts, flip charts and pens, computers, projectors, internet access, whiteboard marker pens, etc. It is a good idea to list other things such as a bottle of drinking water, a laser pointer or remote slide controller that you might want for your personal use.

The final step is evaluation (step 5 of lesson plan) of the learning gained by the learners and the delivery of the session by the teacher. In terms of student evaluation, consider whether the session was too difficult, too easy or just right; did the learners appear motivated, and if so, why or why not; and finally, did the students achieve the learning outcomes? As this is the primary aim of any lesson, this aspect requires careful planning, delivery and reflection.

In terms of teacher evaluation, reflect on whether your session plan and sequence of activities worked well or could have been better; whether the learners behaved appropriately and as expected; did they remain interested throughout and contribute; was your questioning/ discussion effective? Finally, reflect on your learning from this experience and think about what you might amend/improve your input if you were to repeat this session in future.

© University of East Anglia
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