How to Write an Engaging Lesson Plan (Plus a Printable Lesson Plan Template)

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Updated | 5 min read

A lesson plan is like a road map when you’re a teacher, and knowing how to write a lesson plan that you can execute in the classroom is key for any educator. But sitting down to write your own lesson plan can feel a whole lot different when you’re the sole classroom teacher then it may have back in the days of student teaching.

You may even have to submit your plans to your administrator for review before you can actually start using them in the classroom, which can add stress. So should you use a lesson plan template? How do you make lesson planning less cumbersome and more useful? And for that matter, how do you write a lesson plan that is aligned with standards and district curriculum expectations while also engaging your students and getting them excited about the subject matter?

The Teach Starter team creating resources is made up completely of teachers who have been (or currently are) in your shoes. They know what it’s like to work in districts where planning time is minimal or non-existent, and just how challenging that makes finding the time to make a lesson plan. That’s why we’ve put together some of our tips on writing lesson plans that allow you to work smarter, not harder!

What Should a Lesson Plan Include?

Every lesson plan looks different, just as every teacher and lesson is different, but a basic lesson plan outlines the lesson and provides an overview of how you will teach the topic at hand. If an administrator or another experienced teacher were to look at the lesson plan, they should be able to pick it up and move forward with teaching your students based on that plan. 

A good lesson plan might include:

  • An objective for the lesson
  • Time requirements for each aspect of the lesson
  • Specific activities that will be done
  • Materials that will be used
  • How the lesson will be differentiated 
  • The method in which you will assess students’ progress
  • Standards that the lesson will address

How to Make Writing a Lesson Planning Easier

Use a Lesson Plan Template

Every day, there are millions of lessons going on in schools across the US, and every one of those teachers has had to write a lesson plan. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Borrow from lesson plan templates that can give shape to your own lesson planning.

Print an editable weekly lesson plan template that you can use again and again or edit to adapt to your district’s requirements.

Determine Your Objectives

Is this lesson meant to introduce new material, or will you be reviewing concepts that have already been introduced? Identifying your objectives upfront can help the writing flow.

Consider Prior Knowledge

We talk to students about activating prior knowledge all the time, and it’s important to keep in mind as you write a lesson plan. Consider what you’ve already taught and how to take students to the next step, building on what they’ve learned.

Work With Your Grade Level Team

The majority of districts have more than one teacher assigned to each grade level, and you’re likely focused on the same subjects too. Turn to your grade-level team — especially any teachers with more tenure in the classroom — to see if there are lesson plans or elements that you can share instead of starting from scratch every time.

Break Things Down by Time

Sometimes you can find yourself at the lesson plan template with the teacher’s version of writer’s block. You’re far from alone! In times like these, think about the amount of time you’ve allotted for the lesson, and reverse engineer your lesson. Let’s say your lesson hook will take you 10 minutes, you’re planning to have students work in pairs for 10 minutes, and so on … you’ve already got 20 minutes of the lesson plan complete!

Think About How Your Students Learn

Crafting a lesson plan that can be differentiated to reach every student means considering all the ways the individuals in your class learn best. Are they auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners? Can you pair students off or create small groups, or do you have students who do best while working on their own? Also, keep students’ IEPs in mind while writing your lesson plan.

Use Teacher-Created Resources

We promise this isn’t cheating! Our teacher team has created thousands of resources including interactive activities, unit and lesson plans, educational games, and more that can be accessed with a single subscription.

Be Agile

Sometimes things just do not go as planned. The lesson you thought would be a hit left students scratching their heads, and you need to revisit the material to help your learners move forward. Don’t look at this as a failure of your lesson plan but a good learning opportunity for you about how your students learn and how you can adapt your planning to meet them where they are at.

How Far Ahead Should You Plan Lessons?

How far ahead you should plan your lessons will depend on a few factors, including the requirements in your district and your personal planning style. Lesson plans can be designed to cover just one day’s lessons or even a week’s lessons. You may also decide that your lesson plan should cover an entire unit or a specific content area.

What kind of lesson plan you’re writing will likewise dictate how far in advance it needs to be drafted. After all, you can’t create a weekly lesson plan when half the week has already gone by!

How Long Should It Take to Make a Lesson Plan?

While there is no hard and fast rule regarding how long it should take to make a lesson plan, it’s important to know that most teachers get faster as they become more familiar with the process. If there is a textbook or other adopted curricular materials to work from, that can help make lesson planning go faster. Then again, if there’s no clear sequence or pacing guide, remember to give yourself grace if lesson planning takes longer than you’d hoped it would

Something to keep in mind — when you sit down to write a lesson plan, you don’t need to write a book! An effective weekly lesson plan can easily be just one page or maybe two, split into different sections. You might also keep your curriculum map in your lesson plan binder so you can refer back, but your lesson plan doesn’t need to repeat that information. That’s what the map is there for!

The goal is to create a road map for yourself that’s concise and easy to refer to as needed. Remember, if you have to stop to peek at your lesson plan at any point, you won’t have time to read a novel — you’ll want that information to jump right out at you.

Bottom Line

Writing a lesson plan may seem daunting at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Until then, don’t be afraid to use a lesson plan template to help get things started.

See our favorite lesson plan templates and more teacher tools created by expert teachers!


Banner image via shutterstock/Monkey Business Images


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