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Crafting the Perfect Lesson Plan for Science: A Guide to Maximizing Student Learning Outcomes


how to write a proper lesson plan in 5 steps

Learn how to plan a lesson methodically to maximize student engagement


Think about that time you walked into a classroom with a hastily written lesson plan or maybe no lesson plan at all. How did your class go? I’ll take a wild guess and say it wasn’t your best.


I've been there. As a new teacher, I struggled to write up good lesson plans and it showed. They were too content-heavy and teacher-centered, my lesson goals were too vague and my planned activities and laboratory practicals were not well aligned with my lesson objectives.


I often lost my class within the first five minutes with a lackluster introduction. My grades at the end of the semester were dreadful since I failed to adequately incorporate formative assessments in my plans.



However, after some careful research and trial and error, I was able to generate a great template that focused on all the things that are required to plan an objective-focused lesson.


crafting the perfect lesson plan to maximize student engagement

The Importance of Having a Lesson Plan for Every lesson you teach


Before we get into the formula for writing up a brilliant lesson, we may need some reminding as to why it is important as a newbie and even as a veteran to use a plan for every lesson.


Research indicates a direct link between student learning and the depth of a teacher's planning.


Rushing through lesson preparation en route to the classroom may inadvertently shortchange our students' educational experience.


Devoting adequate time to map out our lessons meticulously is imperative because:


  1. Planning lessons increases a teacher's chances of carrying out a lesson successfully. It also allows teachers to be more confident before starting a lesson.

  2. By planning lessons daily, teachers can think about and reflect on different strategies that work inside the classroom, including research-based strategies.

  3. Lesson planning enables the preparation of relevant class activities centered around specific lesson objectives.

  4. Through the preparation of effective lesson plans, teachers can review what they need to teach.

  5. In the classroom, well-prepared teachers show ownership of the learning area they teach, which instills student confidence.



With that said it should be stressed that a lesson plan is NOT a blueprint by which teachers have to strictly adhere to. Although your lessons should be methodical they should also be able to evolve as your students' needs change.


In my opinion, lesson planning is more about actively thinking about a lesson’s goal and activities and how they are interconnected and less about filling a template... although templates certainly help when trying to save time and stay organized.


Now that we have that out of the way Let's discuss some of the ways we can plan lessons that enhance student engagement and understanding.



Lesson Plan Templates



Thinking about Your Lesson Plan: Preplanning


Before sitting down to write my lesson plan I usually do some preplanning. Preplanning involves thinking about the following questions.


  1. What do I want students to know at the end of this lesson? (Lesson Goal)

  2. What do I need to do (Instructional activity)

  3. What do my students need to do (learning activity) to achieve the lesson goal?

  4. How will I know that students have met the goal? (Assessment)

planning your lesson

Focus on the four components above drives the conceptualization of a lesson that is goal-focused and ensures that the lesson is designed and sequenced such that each activity integrated into the lesson supports the identified

lesson objectives.


Every teacher or district has its requirements for a lesson plan. The components I have listed below are just suggestions, but they appear to be common to all those I have encountered. How they are organized in a lesson will of course vary.


Planning an Effective Lesson


five steps for writing an effective lesson plan for science

1. Define Instructional Goal or Learning Goal

Your main lesson goal should only be one or two sentences long.


This provides a purpose for the lesson. This statement should be generalized and can usually be found in your subject's syllabus (if a syllabus is used).


Example: Students will use particle theory to explain the states of matter and the physical properties of matter.


2. List Learning Objectives

The lesson objectives are statements describing your students' expected learning outcomes at the end of the lesson.


The lesson plan objectives should:


  1. describe a student's behavior that should result from the instruction

  2. state the behavior in terms that can be observed and assessed

  3. indicate the content on which the behavior will be performed


When writing specific objectives you should avoid using vague statements such as :


 “ Students should be able to understand….” or “ students will learn about…”


Knowledge-based vs Skills-Based Learning Objectives


Learning objectives can be categorized into two main types: knowledge-based objectives and skills-based objectives.


knowledge-based objectives focus on understanding and recalling information, while skills-based objectives emphasize the practical application and execution of knowledge and abilities.


Both types of objectives are essential components of effective learning experiences, and a balanced approach that integrates both types can lead to comprehensive student learning and mastery of the subject matter.


Table showing Examples of Skills-Based versus Knowledge based Learning Objectives when writing a Lesson Plan
Click to Expand

Generally, I try to limit my specific objectives to 3 to 4 in a 45 - 60 minute period. I have found that having more than four specific objectives in a single period runs the risk of overwhelming students' working memory and potentially hampering the learning process.



3. List Common Misconceptions


If you are new to teaching I highly recommend conducting some research on some of the common misconceptions on your topic. If you are a veteran teacher then you would already have some idea of the misconceptions students have.


Adding this step to my lesson planning has significantly improved how I approach my teaching and how I design /choose my assessments.


We as educators know that students harbor alternative conceptions that can affect their understanding of other topics later in their academic careers.


By becoming more aware of these misconceptions, teachers have the opportunity to address some of these in their lessons.



Lesson Plan Templates

4. Break Down Lesson Procedures into three parts

The lesson procedure details the steps and activities the teachers and learners will perform during the lesson to achieve the lesson objectives. How a lesson procedure is written may vary from teacher to teacher but is usually comprised of three parts:


  1. Lesson Introduction

  2. The Lesson Proper (the middle or main part of the lesson)

  3. Lesson Closing


Lesson Introduction

A lesson introduction incites student interest and curiosity. This is the opportunity to help students link their prior knowledge and experiences to the current topic.


During the introduction, teachers can encourage learners to be interested in the new lesson through the use of "bellringers" or warm-up activities.


This also allows learners to ask questions about the previous lesson and to connect the new lesson/ topic to the previous one.


The lesson introduction can include (but is not limited to):

  • A demonstration

  • A review of the previous lesson or better yet retrieval practice

  • A diagnostic test

  • a close reading activity

The Lesson Proper

This is the middle part of the lesson. During this time, the teacher presents the new material to the class, helps them understand and master that information, provides learners with feedback, and regularly checks for learner's understanding.


In your lesson plan, you can include all the activities that you will perform, as well as your students' responses to those activities.


Each activity planned should be focused on addressing a specific objective.


Example:


Specific Objective: Use the particle theory to explain differences in volume and compressibility of solids, liquids, and gases.


Tabl showing example of writing teacher and student activities when planning lessons
Click to Expand

Lesson Closing

All lessons should have an adequate conclusion. The lesson closing is meant to reinforce what the teacher has taught and assess whether or not learners have mastered the day's lesson.


In this portion of your lesson plan, you should specify the activities that students will undertake to pull together. the main points of the lesson. This can include the following activities:


  • Guided Practice: This will include practice exercises to fix skills or competencies taught in the lesson. Your learning objectives should inform each.

  • Lesson Summary: Teachers can provide a summary of the lesson or ask students to summarize what they have learned. Teachers can also ask learners to recall the lesson's key activities and concepts.

  • Evaluation/ Assessment: This portion presents the teacher's planned activity to assess the intended learning of the students. In your lesson plan, you should include all assessment methods that will be utilized to regularly check understanding of the material being tackled.

Formative assessment of students' learning may be done before, during, and after a lesson and should be carried out to measure the attainment of the lesson objectives.


Exit tickets are invaluable during this part of your lesson.


Exit ticket templates for lesson planning


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5. Write A Reflection


This is the only part of your plan that should be written after the lesson has been completed.


It is a way of assessing whether your lesson was successful; reviewing the results of your formative assessments and determining whether or not your learning goal was achieved.


You can then decide what needs to be reviewed in the next lesson whether or not you should move on, and which students need additional support.


Writing such detailed lesson plans will allow you to create more engaging and interesting lessons. As you become more experienced they can be modified to suit the emerging needs of your students.


Get started writing your detailed lesson plan using these tips. If you need to write a course syllabus check out this blog post:



 

Until Next time teachers! And don't forget to share!


Download FREE research-based lesson plan template and guide


References:

Anderson, Lorin W., and David R. Krathwohl, eds. 2001. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.


Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomies of educational objectives. Handbook 1. Cognitive Domain. NY: McKay.

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