If you are reading this article for the perfect formula for the perfect fill in the blanks lesson plan for you and your class, I’m not going to give it to you.
Don’t get me wrong. I want lesson planning to be easy for you, to go smoothly, to be less stressful and more productive. The thing is, every teacher has to discover what works best for them. We are all very unique individuals, and we have unique groups of students. Because of that, your best process is going to be at least slightly different than your neighbor’s best process. But that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to lesson planning. There are some things you should consider as you are constructing your plan, things everyone should consider, things guaranteed to make your plans great. And if you go through this checklist, you can be sure that whatever process you use will still result in great lesson plans. Here are some questions for you to consider.
7 Things You Need to Know to Write a Great Lesson Plan
How Will You Write out Your Lesson Plans?
This question might be a bit misleading. Some teachers will keep the entirety of their lesson plans in their heads and have nothing on paper, but that is probably a rare exception. So unless you are one of those people and you don’t have to hand any plans into your supervisor, think about how you will write things out. Will you use a lesson planner and have a two inch square in which you must fit your highly abbreviated notes? Will you type out each lesson in its own document? Will you use a spiral binder? For me, I prefer to write out my lesson plans in a simple table in Word. I keep one table for each class that I teach. Since it’s in a Word document, I can make my squares as small or as large as I need them to be, and can modify my plans each time I teach the same class without having to start from scratch.
What Is Your Objective?
What exactly is it you are trying to teach? Are you giving your students a particular grammatical structure? Do you want them to practice using certain vocabulary? You must be clear what your intentions are for your lesson so that you can be sure if you have accomplished them or not. Having a clear objective will also keep your plans and activities focused on that goal rather than meandering from one not-quite-the-point-of the-lesson to another.
What Are Your Students’ Learning Styles? What Types of Activities Work Best with This Particular Class?
Hopefully you have been teaching your class long enough to have a read on how your students learn best. If you have, keep in mind that you will want to reach each of those learning styles with your plan. You might want to make a checklist of the learning styles you want to cover at the top of your page and check off each one as you include an activity that teaches in that way. I sometimes put a column in my table for each learning style. Once all the boxes get filled in during my planning time, I know I have been intentional about reaching out to every one of my students’ preferred learning styles. You will probably also have a good idea about what types of activities work well with your class. Do they like games? Are they more subdued? Do they like to be creative? Think about these things as well as you plan your lesson.
What Logistics Must I Consider?
Now that you have a good idea what activities you want to do, you’ll have to think about the logistics of each one. What materials do you need? Paper, crayons, magazines, scissors, etc.? Do you need any special equipment like televisions, computers, or recorders? Do you need any special space for the activity? Will you have to move the furniture in your room? Jot some notes down in your plans or on your day planner so you have all of these in place on the day you plan to present your lesson and you can find out ahead of time if a certain activity just isn’t going to work.
How Much Time Will Each Activity Take?
I know. It’s almost impossible to tell, but it’s still worthwhile to make a guestimate. After all, your great lesson plans will have to fit into whatever schedule your class follows, so you should have an idea how much you’ll be able to accomplish during each class period. With that said, it’s always a good idea to have a couple of fillers ready to go at any given time. I like to keep a file of activities I can do at a moment’s notice and that require no special equipment or supplies. If you have a collection like that, great. Make sure it’s handy. You can also keep a few pages at the back of your lesson planner or notebook filled with fillers. If you choose not to use any of these systems, be sure to include a couple of activities in your lesson plans you can use to fill five or ten minutes in case you finish early or don’t have enough time one day to move on to an activity with a greater time requirement.
What’s the Best Way to Order the Activities?
You have a great collection of activities planned and a few fillers in case you need them. Now it’s time to look at how those activities work together. Can you use one of them as a warmer or introduction to class? If not, you’ll need to find something else that will work to begin class. What order is best for the activities? Do you have to do any one of them before you can do the others? Also think about how you will transition between the activities. Will students need to move? Will you change groups? Will you need something written on the board? Once you have all the timing and logistics figured out, take a mental walk through your lesson plans and see if everything flows. If not, change up the order and see if that works better.
Are These Activities at the Appropriate Level for My Students? How Will I Help Them Be Successful?
Not every activity in an intermediate text book will be appropriate for your specific intermediate class. You may need to prepare your students before they can tackle an activity that might be easy for another class at the same official level. If so, plan on getting your students ready before you do that activity, modify the activity, or replace it with something more appropriate. Also think about any examples that you will need to give before starting each of your activities. Get these ready beforehand. You may think it’s easy to come up with examples on the spot, but why stumble through coming up with one at the board when you can take five minutes before class and write the examples out in your plans.
Lesson plans are important.
Besides often having to turn them in to your supervisor, they are useful for you as you plan class. You get a mental walk through of the lesson which will help you spot potential problems and give you an idea where you want to invest most of your class time. If you consider each of these seven questions, you can be sure that you have all your bases covered and your lesson will be a hit.
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