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How To Write A Lesson Plan

As a teacher, you know that it’s the lesson planninthat can consume hours of your time. More importantly, it’s the lesson planning that makes or breaks a lesson.  Trust me, I understand how precious your time is.  With a bunch of new private tutoring students and university classes to teach every year, creating my custom lesson plans has to be efficient, fun, and innovative.

So, how do you write a killer lesson plan without spending too many hours? How do you find content your students will love and whip up a plan in no time?

Well, this post is dedicated to showing you how!

First of all, you have access to my printables library, right? The December printables package will have a freebie Lesson Planning printable. So, sign up at the end of this post if you haven’t already, and you’ll get access to the December printables in just a few days. It’s updated monthly, so you’ll continue to have access to resources to help you plan your lessons!


Free Printables Library


So, how do you write that lesson plan?  Here are my 3 simple steps…


3 Simple Steps to Write A Killer Lesson Plan


1. Lesson Objective & Background

Goal Without Plan

So, if we’ve met before, you know I love goal setting!  (Here’s my post on it if you missed it). Well, think of the lesson objective as your goal for your students to achieve in the time you have them.  What do you want them to learn in the hour that they’re in class?

Student background is also vital.  I’ll never forgot one of my first teaching experiences as a student teacher in my TESL course at McGill University. I tried to teach adult English as a Second Language (ESL) students phrasal verbs before they were ready.

It was a disaster!  So, be sure you’ve taught the background on the grammatical or literary concept BEFORE you plan a lesson with activities using it.

Also, write down the resources (textbooks, worksheets, etc.) that you’re planning to use. They’ll come in handy when you re-use your plan.


2.  Make Three Organized Sections


Access the printables library here!


Every lesson plan should have three organized sections after you decide on a lesson objective:

  •  Demographics: Document the class information (name and age for private tutoring students, or class size for a classroom), the class level and the background students will need to have to partake in the lesson.  Why?, you ask?  Well, lesson plans are reusable! So, write the details in, because you never know when you’ll be able to make a couple tweaks and use it for a new class! Keep everything in an organized folder on your computer, of course, so they are easy to find when you need them!
  •  Objective:   Since you’ve set the objective in Step #1, this part is easy. Write a two sentence description of what you expect your students to learn from this lesson.  What take-away should they have at the end of the 45 minutes or 1 hour?
  •  Timing & Activities:  Organize activities in 15 to 20 minute time slots  (even 10 minutes if you teach young children).  Write down the start time, the activity, and leave space for notes you can take during the lesson.  Did one part take longer than expected? Was one activity too easy or difficult?  Write it down! Lesson notes are super valuable for the next time you whip out the same lesson for a new class.

3.  Interactive Content

Interactive content is so important in a lesson plan.  As you may remember from my post on 5 speaking ideas for your ESL classroom, I once had a McGill university professor who said laughter, water, and movement were the three components of any successful English lesson plan.  Make sure the activities you choose are interactive, fun and keep your students having fun!


I’m a huge fan of games, as in the post above, or using TED Talks effectively (if you missed that post, it’s here). National Geographic’s Keynote series is a really helpful resource for teaching TED Talks, too. You can grab your copy here  (if you’re in the UK or Europe, click here instead).


Bonus Tip:  Prepare a backup activity!  Now, in my experience, activities usually take a little longer than you’d expect. Just in case, though, have a backup activity prepared.  You never know when you’ll have a class that’s totally on-the-ball.


So, those are my top tips for writing a lesson plan!   Please don’t forget to grab access to my free printables library below. I’ll be sending out the December printables package, including a free lesson plan template, in just a couple days! For those of you who love doing everything online like I do, I’m making the fields fillable. So, you can type directly in the .pdf  lesson plan if you’d like!

Oh, and I’m considering making a printables package product that would include my semester lesson planning tools, checklists, files – everything you’d need to kickstart your semester. Is this a product you’d be interested in?

Let me know in the comments below!


Happy Teaching!


P.S.  For any photography fans out there, all the photos on my blog are my own creations. I took the photo for today’s post at the Bodelian Library at the University of Oxford in 2012.

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