5 Characteristics of Amazing Lesson Plans

Do you ever get a chance to reflect on your lessons after they are over?

If  you’re like me you probably have to hastily move into the next lesson without giving much thought to what worked and what didn’t work.

During a professional development on campus today we were asked to think about the best lesson we have taught all year long.  It really got me thinking about what makes a great lesson.

I immediately thought about two lessons this year.  The first was a lab we did with a live superworm, and the other was a game we played called Celebrity H-R Diagram.  Both were massive hits in the class, but why?

These lessons had a lot of similarities even though they were completely different topics.  My guess is that you have similarly amazing lessons that share same these 5 characteristics.

Think of your best lesson plan. Does it share these 5 characteristics? I'm betting it does.

  1. Students Lead the Learning – In each of the lessons above it was the students who were leading the learning.  Neither of these lessons required more than a couple of minutes of instruction from me, and they allowed the students to drive their own learning.  Win-Win.
  2. Loud But Focused – Both of these lessons were loud, and guess what….it’s OK to be loud.  If the conversations are focused on the learning who cares about the noise level in the classroom.  We are supposed to be facilitating experiences for our students that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.  Sometimes it gets loud.  Who cares?!
  3. Students are Smiling – I realize that every single lesson I provide can’t be a 3-ring circus, but why not strive to inject a little humor into your lessons.  When students are smiling they are actively engaged with the learning in front of them.  I really can’t ask for much more than that.
  4. The Lesson is Relevant –  The other day I made a reference to the old TV sitcom, Third Rock From the Sun.  You could hear the crickets for miles after that stupid comment.  It was totally irrelevant, and it went in one ear and out the other.  On the other hand, measuring the speed of a live superworm or giving 8th graders permission to shamelessly  judge the “hotness” of celebrities in order to teach the H-R diagram was totally in their wheelhouse.
  5. I Can Facilitate – I often need to remind myself that I need to get out of the way sometimes.  The more I can facilitate rather than direct teach, the better off my students are.  Remember how boring it was to have to sit in school all day and simply receive information from our teachers?  Yuck!  All of my great lessons allow students to create, play, and demonstrate.  I need more of this in my classroom.  All classrooms need more of this.

I encourage you to think of your best lesson.  Do they share any of these characteristics?  I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know.