Lesson Plan Formats

The manner in which teachers record and prepare lessons can express volumes about their goals and priorities as teachers. Having already experienced a year and a half of substitute teaching, I have observed a variety of methods. Although plans tend to be “simplified” for substitute teachers, I have seen enough plan books and heard enough remarks during curriculum mapping to know that not every teacher creates lesson plans for each day.

I think this is perfectly acceptable for the veteran teacher who can recall all the finer points of a lesson from memory, but I think even then, it is helpful to have a record of how you teach what you teach in order to reflect and even share that knowledge with others.

As a less than veteran teacher, it is my goal to have lesson plans for every day that are detailed to the extent that anyone could pick it up and understand how to implement the lesson. This method was admittedly pressed upon me by my amazing college professors, but as I grow, I am shocked at how much more can learn from my teaching experiences if I am taking time to fine-tune my lessons or recognize what changes from paper to implementation.

Basically, I use a modified Madeline Hunter lesson plan design. This is what my supervising professor required during my student teaching, and I find it insures that my lessons are focused, productive, and organized. Here is a model for what I use:

Date or Day # in Unit

Novel Title: Lesson Title


  • Students will or will be able to…
  • Students will or will be able to…

Motivation/Intro activitiy (5 minutes or less): Connect it to what they learned yesterday so they are ready to learn.


  • Often things like student texts
  • Classroom technology
  • Any other materials you need to remember to have or subs. need to locate


Activity 1(blank minutes):

  • Include specific directions of what to do
  • Include specific questions if you have discussion

Activity 2(blank minutes):

  • More directions
  • Try to think of details such as whether or not they will hand things in
  • If it’s an independent activity think of a way to extend the question or pose another question to keep your advanced students engaged

Activity 3 [if necessary] (blank minutes):

  • Be sure not to try and cram too many activities into your class.
  • If it’s a new skill, be sure to include modeling, guided practice, independent practice time.

Closing (2-5 minutes): Summarize what students were supposed to learn today, ask a question about prediction in the book or about their new skill, remind them again of the assignment, commend them for what they did well!

Assessment: How will you know if your students have accomplished the objectives? Have you included informal assessment during class? Will the homework serve as a formal/written assessment? Do you have an “exit ticket” or other small informal check for understanding?

Problems forseen: This is where you state everything you think that could potentially go wrong: technology failing, students balking at participation, students finishing early needing extra work, etc. Solution: How will you solve these problems? Say how or give particular instruction.

If any of you have specific formats you find helpful, I’d love to hear about them! I understand that they vary based on location, curriculum, and content, but I would be interested to see other methods.

In short, I think that structured lesson plans aid teachers in considering the message they are sending students, the manner in which they do so, and in making the most of class time! Good classes are cohesive experiences that keep students engaged and involved in learning.

As a side note, I would add that I like to write the schedule for class each day so students know what we’re doing as well as what I expect them to know. Multiple modes of communication never hurt anyone!

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