Lesson Planning Tips?

I’m putting together a short, 1-hour to 2-hour module on lesson planning basics as part of a larger module for helping Community Experts feel more comfortable in what they are doing at District 287.

I have a couple of things that I wondered if I could get some help with…

1 - Any lesson planning tips that work well for you that community experts new to teaching would find helpful?

2 - Do we have a set format we follow at 287 for writing learning objectives, or it is up to each teacher to build their own style? (I’d lean toward writing "I can " statements with observable behavior, something like, “I can comfortably talk about my daily activities of previous week in Japanese.”)

A couple considerations.

  1. Start with a Unit Plan / Overview and line that up with the calendar. Spending some time at this at the beginning of the quarter pays dividends. Ask around, because there may be prior existing curricular maps / 3-year plans that can help you plan & schedule units. When I started as a nonlicensed CE, I dove right into planning daily lessons. Starting with a solid unit plan is key otherwise you can waste a lot of time coming up with what to teach. Most (if not all) of our CEs, if they are pursuing licensure, are training for special ed, not content.

  2. Start with the learning objective and then write your lesson plans in Outline / Bullet point format. The kind of super-detailed, lengthy lesson plans that are demanded in teacher preparation programs defy common sense, in my opinion. Furthermore, you need to leave some breathing room, be able to pivot when needed, and allow students to drive the learning when opportunities present themselves.

No, I don’t think so.


There’s a Curriculum Hub template Moodle you can check out here:

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I agree with Ben’s advice. I would suggest that “backwards by design” planning works best. Figure out what your goals or end products are, a test, a project, a presentation, etc, and then work backwards to scaffold the lessons and dates from there. If your end product is already aligned with the state standards or benchmarks then creating the daily activities should allow you to meet your learning objectives easily.

Keep in mind the processes or related procedures that you may need to teach or address like “How to design a poster layout” or “How to use Prezi.” As Ben said (much more eloquently I may add) hiccups in your plan will arise as you cannot foresee all issues ahead of time and no two students come into the classroom at the same level. It is okay to deviate from your original lesson plans and move at the pace and interests of your students.


When I started here 4 years ago, in my program we were instructed to use “I will be able to…(observable outcome)”

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Thank you everyone so far. I’m taking notes!

I know the AVID format for learning intentions is in the form of ‘Essential Questions’ which guide the lesson. I like using Essential Questions because they lead very nicely into writing up a summary (as in, “for the wrap-up, answer the Essential Question”).

That being said, I was using Essential Questions for my learning intentions and was told in my review that they should be ‘I can’ statements…so that must be the district format?

From Essential Questions
by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins

A good essential question

  • Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.
  • Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.
  • Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
  • Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.
  • Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
  • Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
  • Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.

This raises a great question. I have observed a variety of formats for Learning Intentions (objectives, outcomes, goals, etc) across the district. I am also aware of various expectations of their format with sites and even within programs. I have always respected the site leadership’s expectation.

In the past, work was done to introduce and increase the incorporation of LI’s to support student learning and engagement.

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I also use the essential questions for Cornell notes; however I have posted learning targets separate on the board. The essential question is for the students to see and interact with while the learning target describes what they should be able to do by the end of the lesson. I agree that the whole point is just so that students know what the learning intention was and if answering the essential question covers the intention then that should be really all that is needed. I guess the learning targets should be written however your site decides, so maybe it’s something that should be brought up at your next site meeting.