Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Curriculum Development/Lesson Planning

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How do we plan lessons, and why is it important?

Teachers know that a curriculum guide is the most important document available to them and without one; it will be difficult to write lesson plans. Using a (curriculum) guide, teachers create effective lesson plans that are based on the state’s goals and objectives (what is intended that students learn) (Kizlik, 2007). Research indicates that all students benefit from and appreciate well-structured lessons. Lesson plans are written by teachers to help them structure the learning for themselves and for students (Kizlik, 2007). The lesson plan ensures that instruction is presented in a clear and logical sequence and tells everyone that a teacher is organized. Having clearly stated objectives and creative strategies in lesson plans can almost guarantee that students will not become bored since weak lesson plans can contribute to chaotic classroom environments. Planning lessons is a fundamental skill all teachers must develop and hone, although implementation of this skill does take some time. (Kizlik, 2007). It is therefore important that new teachers ask for help when they are having difficulty writing their plans. Furthermore, planning lessons are important because it focuses on the objectives and goals that you want to meet in your classroom. What concept or objective does a teacher need to focus on? What strategy should a teacher use in implementing the goal or concept? Lesson plans are important because it helps teachers decide what they need to accomplish in their classroom and how much time to allow for instruction.

Imagine, being hired as a new teacher, walking into your classroom for the first time with no guidance from the administration and no guide for your teaching curriculum. How intimidating! What do you teach, how do you teach it? This is not a nightmare. This is happening in many schools even today. This leads us to a very important tool for every new teacher, the curriculum guide. With the use of the curriculum guide you will be led down the path of your entire year. This guide will direct you to what your students will learn. This guide will help you build your lesson plans. Why do we need lesson plans? Why are they important? The following paragraphs will lay out basic tools for producing effective lesson plans and explain why these plans are so important to teacher and student success.

What is a Lesson?[edit]

In a classroom, a lesson focuses on the teaching and learning activities to be carried out during a specific period of time. A lesson plan is a logical arrangement of concepts/ideas or skills to be covered during the teaching and learning process.

Initially when a new teacher is hired they should receive a curriculum guide from the school administrator. This guide lays out the state standards. These standards are the base points from which lesson plans begin. They are also the goals you want to reach in your teaching. If your school does not have a curriculum guide seek out a fellow teacher as a mentor. It needs to be someone who is very willing to share their experience. Then follow the steps below starting with your state learning standards as your objectives.

Andrew Johnson, an assistant professor of Mankato State University in Minnesota specializes in teacher education and effectiveness. He has designed an outline for lesson planning. He has taken the infamous Madeline Hunter model and simplified it into five steps:

1. The objective: this is the standard from the curriculum guide, what you want the students to learn, keep them clear and simple. These can be used to build tests from.

2. The introduction: this links the new information to what the students already know, this should also include something to arouse student interest and curiosity, something to motivate learning. The more interesting the introduction, the more interested the students.

3. The input: easily lay out in outline form what exactly is to be taught. Step by step instructions that correspond to the objectives. This section can include prompts to remind oneself of visual aids to be used. This should also include questions that will test the students' comprehension.

Bloom's Taxonomy:

4.The activity: this step involves action with the input. This is what the students are going to do with the new information, how they will apply what they have learned. Bloom's taxonomy divides verbs into six categories to develop activities on different levels

5. Closure and review (optional): this is used to reflect on the objectives that should have been learned and may also be a lead into the next lesson.

The review can be looked at two ways. It can be an optional review for the students of the information they received, or it can be used as the teacher’s review of the lesson. An effective teacher must take the time to review the lesson and take note of any changes, additions or adjustments that need to be made.These five simple steps explain how to build a lesson plan.

Why Do We Need Lesson Plans?[edit]

Effective lesson plans lead teachers through what they need to teach and inform students of what they are responsible for learning. If the lesson plan is effective, it will lay out the objectives of what is to be learned, the input of how it will be learned and the activity that will reinforce the learning. It is important that the activity corresponds with the objective so that it will help the students retain the information. Lessons need to make the students active learners. Teachers that go home at the end of the day exhausted are doing too much of the work and the students are not doing enough.

When a teacher takes the time to build an effective lesson plan, it allows for purposeful instruction. The teacher knows the goals and how to reach them. Through building lesson plans the teacher explores the curriculum and becomes well informed. When the teacher is well informed they are confident and comfortable about their instruction.

When the teacher has a plan it allows the students to spend time learning rather than wondering what they are going to learn. With an effective lesson plan, the teacher has planned activities that will reinforce the lesson. This keeps the students engaged and interested. Without well planned lessons, the students lose focus and interest. When the students lose interest, the classroom becomes chaotic. Nothing gets accomplished with chaos. An effective lesson plan helps with classroom management. When students are involved in learning, they don’t have time to misbehave. It is important to integrate technology into today’s classes. The students are interested in technology therefore they are interested in learning lessons through technology.

With all this, the important thing for all new teachers to remember is to take time to build effective lesson plans. The objectives are simply stated so the teacher knows what is to be taught and the students know what they are responsible for learning. The activities need to correspond with the objectives to make active learners retain information. With effective lesson plans both teachers and students know where they are going and what steps are going to take them there. This always makes for a successful trip.

Technologically Integrated Lesson Plans[edit]

One of the newest challenges facing teachers today, is not simply designing a lesson plan, but designing a lesson plan that effectively incorporates new technological standards into an already well-established curriculum. Many novice teachers are finding that they are not only new to the education field, but they are also somewhat pioneers in a rapidly evolving field. Researchers at the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers have found that the lack of support surrounding fledgling educators has led to a "revolving door" of new teachers who find that they were not nearly as satisfied with their chosen craft as they once believed they would be. So where can these new teachers turn for guidance? The researchers believe that the answer lies in reinforcing the support system on a local and individual school level which will require a great deal of reform. It is not a time for teachers to be resting on their proverbial laurals, but rather learning and devising new strategies that will ensure a successful future for educaters and students alike.

Harry Wong, author of How to be an Effective Teacher, The First Days of School states, “Without a lesson plan, without a classroom map, and without a guide of some form, there is no way you can grow. You can only grow if you have some direction. Thus, if you dare to teach, you must never cease to learn. Teaching, growing and learning are continuous, lifelong processes….As your lesson plans grow, you grow, and your students will grow with you.”

Multiple Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

Why does Andrew Johnson say that teachers need to have simply stated objectives?
A. Because the students are stupid.
B. So the teacher knows what they are teaching.
C. So the students know what they are responsible for learning.
D. Both A and B.
E. Both B and C.

E. Both B and C.

How should a new teacher handle making lesson plans if they don’t receive curriculum guides from their administrators?
A. Seek a mentor teacher.
B. Quit.
C. Build from state standards.
D. None of the above.
E. Both A and C.

E. Both A and C.

Why should teachers include an activity in their lesson plans?
A. To keep the students busy so they can nap.
B. So the class can get exercise.
C. So the students can put their new information to work.
D. To explain what is to be learned.

C. So the students can put their new information to work.

Teachers should review their lesson plans to...
A. Improve upon them.
B. To grow as an educator.
C. To emphasize what the students should take away from the lesson.
D. All the above.

D. All the above.

Why is the lesson introduction so important?
A. So student and teacher can get to know each other.
B. To grab the students attention.
C. To introduce the new information.
D. Both A and B.
E. Both B and C.

E. Both B and C.

Where can new teachers turn for guidance?
A. The support system on a local and individual school level.
B. Their parents.
C. The principal of the school.
D. None of the above.

A. The support system on a local and individual school level.

What are the 3 things a teacher needs in order to grow?
A. A vacation.
B. Chocolate and coffee.
C. Another teacher encouraging them daily.
D. Lesson plans, classroom map, and a guide of some form.

D. Lesson plans, classroom map, and a guide of some form.

What do students lose without well planned lessons?
A. Time and resources.
B. Recess time.
C. Focus and interest.
D. Their lunch.

C. Focus and interest.

Why is lesson planning important to a teacher's success in the classroom?
A. To focus on objectives and goals that are stated in the curriculum.
B. To make sure that students have enough work to keep them busy.
C. To make sure that teachers have enough time to cover the necessary material
D. Both A and C.

D. Both A and C.

Mrs. Williams, a new Science teacher hired in September, is having great difficulty writing lesson plans. She should...
A. Take a course at a local college and learn how to write lesson plans.
B. Speak to her mentor or a veteran teacher and ask for help.
C. Find another position at another school and make sure that they already have plans in place.
D. Reread the curriculum guide, whip out a plan and hope for the best.

B. Speak to her mentor or a veteran teacher and ask for help.

Mr. Thompson, a Math teacher, completes the objective, introduction, input, and activities everyday. However, he gets so caught up in the activities that he barely has time to finish and never gets the class to complete the closure. Why is the closure so important?
A. It is optional, not important, and really doesn't teach students anything.
B. It is used to reflect on what was learned and students can let teachers know what they liked or didn't understand about the lesson.
C. It is important to follow the curriculum guide and is required by the state.

B. It is used to reflect on what was learned and students can let teachers know what they liked or didn't understand about the lesson.

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal a sample response.

How do effective lesson plans build successful teachers and students?

Effective lessons plans help to build successful teacher and students in several different ways. First an effective lesson plan can help to build a successful teacher by giving them a fun and creative way to adequately teach the students. By having effective lesson plans the teacher can also build their confidence. Second effective lesson plans can build successful students because if you have a teacher who is confident in their lesson plan and it is interactive and engaging the students will retain more information and in the end gain more from an effective lesson plan than an ineffective lesson plan. Using effective lesson plans will make the students want to learn more and be more connected with the subject and lesson. Overall, I believe that effect lesson plans can build successful students and teachers by building their confidence and gaining their interest.


  • Wong, Harry and Rosemary. How to be an Effective Teacher: the First Days of School. Wong Publications. Mountain View, CA, 2004.
  • Library of Congress. Esspecially for Teachers: Getting Started. American Memorial project. Retrived September 17,2006.