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Lesson Plan Considerations

Gerry Lewin, Santa Barbara City College, Learning Specialist

Purpose: The purpose is to allow you to save time while lesson planning by quickly reviewing many of the important options you can decide to use.   

The goal is to assist you as you customize a lesson plan format to fit the purpose of each of your courses so you ensure the maximal learning for all students, plus integrate a variety of methods to increase student engagement in your lessons.

How to use: The options offered below are presented both as questions to consider and respond to in writing, and as checklists for checking off your choices.  You may wish to focus only on certain elements of the options below. A practical way to approach this is to choose the most relevant sections first, and add the others into your plan as you see fit.

1. Planning Objectives

a. What are my learning objectives, the specific aims to realize my course goals? (State in behaviors that can be assessed, formally or informally.) Students will:


b. What is the topic of today's class? Map the organization of the major ideas/ content on another sheet or type in the text box below.


c. Within which larger unit or background of knowledge does this fit?


2. Creating Learning Context

How will I set rapport, create a learning context, motivate and connect with students' background experiences and knowledge? Do I need to give a pretest to see where the students are in their understanding?

(e.g.:. CAT - background knowledge probe; class discussion; quick write; discuss with partner or in small group a specific teacher-designed question, motivational stories, review)


3. Considering Multi-Modality Communication

How will I engage the students in the following communication modalities?

a. In which phase(s) of the mental act will students be engaged?




All Three


b. What modality or language will I use to communicate?

(e.g.: Visual: figural, graphic, cinematic; numerical; symbolic, code; verbal, linguistic; sign language, motoric and gestural; other:______________________)

What modality or language will I ask the students to use to communicate?


c. Which of the possible learning styles of the students will I address?

a. auditory-verbal b. visual-spatial c. tactile-kinesthetic
a. concrete b. abstract  
a. reflexive
(sees from multiple perspectives)
b. active experimentation
(learns by doing something with it)
a. global; grasps whole picture b. sequential; specific details in order
a. independent b. dependent c. interdependent
a. creative b. analytical/evaluative c. executive
(prefers to implement)
a. introvert b. extrovert c. ambivert
(both internal and external)

d. Would Kolb's learning cycle be relevant? Will I create an experience, allow students to reflect upon the experience, encourage students to conceptualize in an abstract way about it, and then actively test out their concepts, conclusions or models?


e. What do I need to make or arrange for in order to teach in a multi-modality way?


4. Deciding on the Thinking and Conceptual Framework

a. What kinds of thinking will students be doing according to Bloom's taxonomy?

recall of knowledge

analysis comprehension


application evaluation

b. Other mental abilities to develop:


fluency (lots of ideas) fluidity (making connections) metacognition

other (specify):

c. What kinds of relationships do I want students to identify with, think in terms of, and work with?  These may relate to text styles in the reading or rhetorical styles in writing.

descriptive (parts within whole)

comparison and/or contrast or similarities and/or differences


deliberation (pros and cons/advantages and disadvantages)

sequential order (time, rank, enumeration, importance)

process (series of steps in a process, cycle, flowchart, feedback loop, iterative process)

causality (cause and effect; occurrence and consequence, causal timeline)

problem-solution (problem definition, options, solution, results, implications)

proposition and support

argumentation for a conclusions

conceptual analysis (concept, characteristics, examples, non-examples, definition)


other (specify):

d. Given the subject matter I wish to cover, what skills do the students need to learn? In what operations (internalized, organized, coordinated set of actions used to elaborate information) do students need to engage to be able to master the course's content?

(e.g.: classification, seriation, hypothetical, syllogistic, analogical, or inferential reasoning; inductive or deductive approach to the task or material). Other (specify):


5. Active Learning

Given all the above, what learning activities would best fit today's lesson? How will I introduce them: short, paced activities within a lecture; whole class activity; lecture followed by activity?  Some options to promote active learning are listed below.

Group Work

Informal small groups

Large group discussion

Collaborative group projects



Student demonstrations

Oral reports

Case studies


Model visualization; model building

Field trips


Open-ended problem/project spanning semester

Critical Thinking

Problem solving (exercises; scenarios)

Critical thinking exercises/reports

Think tanks

Questioning; self-questioning


Study guides

Language-based Activities

Reading assignments

Writing exercises (quickwrite, annotate, notes, etc.)



Effective use of technology

Trigger films, video/thought questions

Creative Thinking




Learning logs

CAT (Classroom Assessment Techniques)

Add other discipline-specific activities:


6. Determining Level of Difficulty

What is the learning difficulty? Consider quantity, complexity, interest, student background, relevance, organization, abstraction and efficiency.

a. How much material should we cover in one day?


b. How complex should the lesson be (the number and degree of novelty of units)?


c. What is the level of student interest? How will I engage students' interest and motivation?


d. What level of background knowledge exists within the class for this topic?


e. How relevant is this lesson to their lives and futures? Will it draw out their potentials?


f. How will I make organization overt, or structure it?


g. What levels of abstraction will be required from students?


h. What level of efficiency (rapidity/precision or degree of effort) should I expect?


7. Analyzing the Task & Choosing or Designing a Learning Strategy

The strategy can be demonstrated during the presentation of your content material. Guided practice could be done after the lecture (in class or online). Application could be done as a homework assignment.

a. Analyze the Task: What set of steps should students go through to master this skill or knowledge? Turn the important steps into a learning strategy, or choose an existing strategy that conveys clearly how to learn your subject matter.

(e.g.: paraphrasing, visualizing and summarizing, SQ5R for reading and studying a textbook, Cornell 6-R notetaking procedure, step-by-step writing procedure, analyzing an article, research a topic, write a lab report, perform calculations, prepare a speech, etc.)

b. Sequence and Pacing: What sequence and pacing would be best? Lay out the sequence of activities of your lesson plan on another sheet of paper or type out an outline below using the text box.



c. Modeling: How will I describe how to go about doing this task? How will I model it? What language will I use to show students how I think as I approach and engage in the task?


d. Guided Practice and Scaffolding: What is the best way for me to give the students feedback about how they are doing? How will I "scaffold" or support their practice of the task? How can I give them an experience of success using easier material before moving to the targeted level, and gradually remove the support as they gain mastery?


e. Application and Self-Regulation: What in-class work could students do to apply the strategy with grade-appropriate materials? How will I teach them to monitor themselves when doing homework assignments to encourage self-regulation and metacognition?


8. Evaluation

a. How will I evaluate the students' mastery of content?


Multiple choice or short answer test





Quiz (written)

E-mail or bulletin board discussion

Oral quiz with tutors

Taped recorded answers to questions

Graphic organizer


Group work

Journals with self-reflective comments

b. Long-term retrieval: What do they need to remember? What exam preparation could I facilitate? What mnemonic devices would fit my specific content?

c. Extension/transfer: How will I encourage students to transfer their knowledge and skills to other contexts? How will students be reinforced for using the strategy or skill over time?


d. What changes would I make to this lesson plan?


9. What else?

a.  Will I provide any resources or information not found in the texts or course materials?  If so, what, and in what form?


b. Will I use tutors?  If so, how?


c. Will I encourage students to arrange study groups that meet outside of class?   Note details here.


d. Will I invite any outside speakers?  List details here.


e. How will I provide or arrange for accommodations for students with disabilities?


f.  Other considerations:



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Arnett, Ronald C. Dialogic Education: Conversation About Ideas and Between Persons. Carbondale &Edwardsville: So. Illinois University Press, 1992.

Brooks, David. Web Teaching. New York: Plenum, 1977.

Bulgren, Janis A., Donald D. Deshler and Jean B. Schumaker. The Content Enhancement Series. Lawrence: Edge Enterprises, 1993-95.

Cook, Doris. Strategic Learning in the Content Areas. Madison: WI DPI, 1993.

Deshler, et. al. Learning Strategies Curriculum. Lawrence: University of Kansas Institute for Research and Learning, 1985-2000.

Feuerstein R. and Jensen M. R. "Instrumental Enrichment: Theoretical Basis, Goals, and Instruments." The Educational Reform, May 1980 pp. 401-423.

Feuerstein Reuven, with Rand, Y., Hoffman, M. and Miller R. Instrumental Enrichment. Baltimore: University Park Press. 1980.

Huba, Mary and Jann E. Freed. Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2000.

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Meyers, Chet and Thomas B. Jones. Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for the College Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Paul, Richard. "The Elements of Reasoning." 12th International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform. Sonoma State University. Aug. 1992.

Pressley, Michael, et. al. Cognitive Strategy Instruction. Cambridge: Brookline, 1990.

Rosenshine, Barak and Carla Meister. "The Use of Scaffolds for Teaching Higher-Level Cognitive Strategies." Educational Leadership. April 1992: 26-33.

Tierney, Robert J., John Readence, and Ernest Dishner. Reading Strattgies and Practices. 5th Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.


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