No matter what level you plan to teach, you will be asked to write lesson plans for your classes. Good lesson plans not only keep you organized when leading the class through daily activities, but they also keep your instructional focus on track with your long-term unit, semester, or course objectives.

The following provides general guidelines for lesson plans, which may be adjusted to fit your needs based on a different audience, grade-level, institution, etc.

What is a Lesson Plan?
In the simplest terms, a lesson plan is an instructor’s daily agenda for a class session.

However, lesson plans also include reminders of broader learning goals for an instructor. They should identify which learning outcomes each activity aims to meet. Therefore, the purpose of a lesson plan is to align short- and long-term learning goals while keeping an instructor on track for an individual day.

Who is the audience for my Lesson Plan?
Your primary audience for a lesson plan is you, the instructor. Your supervisor (e.g., principal, department chair) may require you to submit lesson plans, or you may also share them with colleagues, so consider other academics as the secondary audience.

What should be included in my Lesson Plan?
Specifically, a lesson plan must include:

  • Daily objective
  • Course learning outcomes
  • Detailed daily agenda
  • Method of assessment
  • Homework assigned for the next meeting

It may also include materials students will need, the specific sequence the lesson falls in a larger unit, and broader educational outcomes (such as Common Core Standards).

How should I format my Lesson Plan?
Lesson plans can be presented in many ways, but the most common choices for formatting them are either with clear section headers or in a gridded table. Each header (or box in the table) will present one of the aforementioned items (see: What should be included in my Lesson Plan?).

What type of language should I use in my Lesson Plan?
Since lesson plans are not formal prose, it is common practice to use intentional sentence fragments or even shorthand. However, maintain academic language and register within this framework so that administrators can understand the content or so that colleagues can re-use lessons in future semesters.

What are some other tips for Writing a Lesson Plan?

  • Backward Design: Utilize the principle of “backward design” to identify your desired outcome for the session before planning the activities. Once you have identified this distinct goal, select instructional activities that lead your students to its achievement.
  • Instructor & Student Focus: When considering the execution of your instructional activities, identify exactly what you will be doing to lead class but also explicitly state what students will be expected to do. As an example, you might write: “Group Discussion Questions: Instructor will circulate between the groups asking guiding questions; Students will each produce a chart in their notes with responses to three questions.”
  • Transition Time: “Timing” is always a challenge, so be sure to anticipate how long each learning activity will take to the best of your ability while remembering to build in transitional time between activities.
  • Just in Case: Consider listing an “if needed,” pre-prepared mini-lesson at the bottom. No lesson plan anticipates perfectly the amount of time activities will take, so it is wise to build brief 5 to 15 minute activities or lectures (such as grammar reviews or guides to using resources) that you can present if students complete their tasks more quickly than expected.