Create objective-driven lesson plans [P-3]

Start with the End in Mind

Choose Your Instructional Methods

Adjust Your Plan

See how one teacher ensures that different parts of her lesson are aligned

Illustrations are grouped by the proficiency that they best bring to life.

We would like to communicate our deep appreciation to these teachers who are allowing us to learn from their experiences.

We may be tempted to plan lessons that revolve around a fun activity, rather than a standards-based objective because we want to students to be engaged and excited by learning. When the activity drives the lesson rather than the objective, however, we likely aren’t keeping our instruction focused on moving students closer to their goals. Remember that fun activities should always be a tool for furthering student achievement, and never the center of a lesson; follow the principles of backwards design when lesson planning to ensure that your lesson isn’t based around an activity.

Striving for creativity at the cost of your lesson’s effectiveness: a creative approach is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes a straightforward approach to lesson will help students master the objective in the most effective and efficient manner. Before going the creative route, think through whether or not this is essential to student achievement.

Skipping straight from the knowledge and comprehension levels of Blooms to synthesis and evaluation, without having modeling for students these higher-order thinking skills: before writing your lesson, think through exactly what you will want students to do at the end of the lesson, and then plan to model these skill(s) during your INM or GP.

Planning lessons where the majority of work is done by the teacher or the majority of time is spent presenting material rather than allowing students to practice and develop mastery of the key concepts: before finalizing your lesson plan, look carefully through each section and analyze (a) how much time you are giving to your giving to student practice and (b) who – you or the students – will be doing the most “work” during the lesson. Make changes as necessary to ensure that your engagement of students in new content doesn’t dominate your lesson and that your students will be working harder than you.

Planning group activities for independent practice, that don’t allow for all students to demonstrate mastery: if you plan group activities for your independent practice, be sure to also plan an independent assessment section (an exit ticket for example) that allows you to assess every students’ level of mastery.

Failing to integrate key points into guided and independent practice activities: before finalizing your lesson plan, check to be sure that your 3-5 key points are integrated into every section of your lesson, and not just in the introduction to new material.

What Grade is This?
Writing lesson plans that aren’t rigorous enough for the grade level you are teaching: compare lessons, objectives, and assessments with the teachers teaching the grade levels above and below you, to ensure that you are holding your students to an appropriate grade-level standard of performance.

In the 5-step lesson cycle - planning guided and independent practice activities that focus on something other than the objective. Always follow the principles of backwards design when planning lesson – start with your lesson objective in mind and create an assessment for that objective. Then plan your activities to fulfill the key purposes of a lesson. This will help ensure that all parts of your lesson are aligned.

We may be tempted to plan lessons that revolve around a fun activity, rather than a standards-based objective because we want to students to be engaged and excited by learning. When the activity drives the lesson rather than the objective, however, we likely aren’t keeping our instruction focused on moving students closer to their goals. Remember that fun activities should always be a tool for furthering student achievement, and never the center of a lesson; follow the principles of backwards design when lesson planning to ensure that your lesson isn’t based around an activity.

We may jump into lessons without capturing student attention or providing any context for what is to be learned because we feel that we have a lot to cover and don’t want to “waste any time” or we aren’t sure of good ways to set the stage for our lessons. Remember that engaging students at the beginning of your lesson is crucial for ensuring that students are with you from the start. If you forget to engage students, you run the risk of starting the lesson without students’ full attention or understanding about what they are about to do and why. When planning the beginning of your lesson ensure that you achieve the following four aims: clearly communicate what students will learn, why it is important, how it relates to what they already know, and how it is going to happen. For examples of effective openings to a lesson, click here.

Sometimes we try to teach students every single detail about one idea/concept instead of focusing on the main points because (a) we want students to have a thorough understanding of the objective or (b) we aren’t really sure how to focus our instruction on the most essential ideas. When we do this, we are likely to overwhelm our students, making it difficult for students to remember the central ideas. Before writing the main parts of your lesson, identify the 3-5 most important things that your students will need to know/be able to do in order to master the objective. Read more about how to do this. Then make sure to build your lesson around these key points.

Not reserving enough class time to effectively summarize learning: use a timer to help keep track of your pacing, and force yourself to set a hard stop in your lesson at the 5 minute mark, in order to ensure that you leave time to wrap everything up.