Identifying a lesson plan and its components

Module 2 | Planning and preparing a lesson or a sequence of lessons


What is a lesson plan?

A lesson plan is a set of notes which we use to think and decide what we are going to teach to our students and how we plan to teach it. It acts as a guide for us during and after the lesson. It is possible to identify the most important components of a lesson plan. This can be done by thinking carefully about what we need to make our students do and how we need them to do it.
From the options given below, pick the best one that you think describes a lesson plan most accurately. A lesson plan is similar to:
a photo           
a story
a map
an instruction leaflet
a TV programme
a computer programme
a set of road signs
an essay
a written summary
none of the above
all of the above

Importance of a lesson plan

The main parts of a lesson plan are there to show us the purpose of the lesson (the aims) and what the teacher and students will be doing during the lesson as well as how they will do it (the procedures). Other parts of the lesson are there to aid us to think about issues that would arise during the lesson. They also remind us what things we need to keep in mind about the students. Therefore, a lesson plan is very much like a road map or a series of road signs. This means it is something that shows us where we are going to and how we are going to get where we are going. Sometimes however, we may end up finding that while taking the journey, we have to change the route and take a different one. Given in the table below are a few ways that lesson plans help teachers.
Before the lesson
Writing down the aims and procedures for each stage of the lesson helps us to make sure that we have planned the best possible sequence to enable us to achieve those aims.
During the lesson
The plan can also help the teacher to check timing – the amount of time we plan for each stage – and to check that the lesson is following the sequence we decided on.
After the lesson
We can keep the plan as a record of what happened, making any changes necessary to show how the lesson was different from the plan. We can then use the plan and notes to help plan the next lesson. (At this stage, the plan may be more like a photograph, a story or a summary, giving us a record of the lesson).

Components of a lesson plan

Given below is an example of a part of a lesson plan. The aim of the plan is to introduce and practise language for giving advice. Have a look at this piece of the plan and then read the points below.
Subsidiary aims
Aids and materials
Interaction patterns
5 minutes
Ask students who they ask for advice if they have a problem
Warmer/lead-in: to get students talking and introduce the topic
10 minutes
Discuss typical problems for young people elicit language to ask for and give advice
to create context to revise modal auxiliary verbs
to elicit/introduce vocabulary
Magazine pictures
Teacher –
Whole class
5 minutes
Show headlines for students to guess the content of letters to the advice page in a teen magazine
To get students ready for reading
To predict content
To use students’own knowledge
Teacher –
Whole class
15 minutes
Students read different mini-texts, then summarise the content of the letters
To check predictions
Intensive reading
To introduce the structure Íf I were you, I’d…’
Photocopies of six problem page letters
1st group work – 2nd group work (new groups)
  • When making a lesson plan, it is important for us to ask of ourselves how the procedures that we have planned will help us to achieve our aims. Also we must make sure that there are connections between the dissimilar stages which are strong.
  • Variety also needs to be considered. This means how different types of activities can be used as well as language skills and interaction patterns. Students of any age need dissimilar activities in a lesson. However, more than the older students, it is specially necessary for the younger ones.
  • While the lesson is going on, the teachers should teach the students and not the lesson plan. Teachers need to be ready to be flexible and make alterations in the plan during teaching if necessary. If the plan is a clear one, the teacher will be more aware of what he/she is altering in the plan and why he/she is altering it. The teacher can also add some dissimilar possibilities in the lesson plan. For example, he/she can add an extra activity if the students are faster than expected and take lesson time to finish a task. This can be useful if the teacher is unsure of how well certain parts of the plan work out.

The nerd baby says ...

It is possible for the following headings in the table to be included in a lesson plan. In your opinion, which of them should always be present in a lesson plan? Which should not be used too much?
Lesson plan headings
Level and number of learners
Who we are planning the lesson for
Timetable fit
How the lesson is connected to the last lesson and/or the next one.
Main aim(s)
Other things we want learners to be able to do during the lesson because they lead to the main aim.
subsidiary aims
Other things we want the learners to be able to do during the lesson because they lead to the main aim.
Personal aims
Aspects of our own teaching we want to develop or improve.
What we think learners already know or can already do related to the aims.
Anticipated language problems
Things that learners may find difficult.
Possible solutions
Action we will take to deal with the anticipated problems.
Teaching aids, materials, equipment
Useful reminders of things to take to the lesson.
Tasks and activities for each stage.
Length of time needed for each stage.
Interaction patterns
Ways in which learners work at different stages, i.e. individually, in pairs, in groups, as a whole class.
Generally, expecting possible problems and solutions is a good idea. However, in a revision lesson, all these headings may not be needed. Sometimes, the teacher may not have personal aims for each and every lesson and may not always give homework to the students.

Test your knowledge

Here is a lesson plan from which some of the teacher’s notes are missing. The notes are given from A-E. Put them in the right places in the lesson plan.
Lesson plan headings
Teacher’s notes
Timetable fit
Main aim(s)
Subsidiary aim(s)
3 to listen for detail to a model story
Personal aim(s)
5 Students can already form tenses accurately
Anticipated language problems
6 Students may use present tenses
Possible solution
  1. To make the students able to make use of the past tenses in the proper way and also to put events in order in simple narratives.
  2. The students have to listen to a model story. Then they are put into groups. Each group has to plan their own story and write it down.
  3. Teachers should use gestures to remind the students to make use of the past tenses.
  4. To follow onwards from work on past tenses and also to get ready for the storytelling project.
  5. To ensure that the writing on the board is clear and legible.
Here are some comments from teachers. Which of these comments would you agree with? State your reasons for doing so.
  1. Written lesson plan are very useful for new teachers who have begun teaching for the first time. However, experienced teachers do not need them. I map out and plan all my lesson in my head.
  2. Lessons plans are not useful for me and do not aid me to teach. This is because I always try to help and cater to the students’ needs during the lesson.
  3. It is a very important thing to write out a lesson plan. Although I make sure I have a written lesson plan for every class, I don’t usually look at it during the class.
Each lesson has different stages. In order to answer questions 1-7, match each stage given below with the subsidiary aims listed in the box from A to H. There is an extra one which you do not need to use.
Lesson Stages
  1. Go back to the last lesson you did and check the vocabulary.
  2. Introduce the topic to the students and draw forth new words and phrases.
  3. Students put mixed up paragraphs of the text in the correct order.
  4. Students match the most probable meanings to the words in the text.
  5. Students are given true/false questions to answer.
  6. Students are given examples of reported speech to underline.
  7. Students exchange and give feedback on certain texts.
Subsidiary Aims
A.     Focus on form
B.     Contextualising and pre-teaching vocabulary
C.     Extracting meaning from the context
D.     Check comprehension which is well-detailed.
E.      Go back and revise language which has been learnt
F.      Check the awareness of the student of text organisation (pronouns, linking, etc…)
G.     Correction of peers
H.     Carefully controlled practice of the structure of the target