Lesson Plans Revisited: How Veteran Teachers Can Improve Existing Approaches

Today, there are countless ways to plan and deliver a lesson, but teachers still seek ways to simplify the process.

The days of writing lesson plan goals, objectives and procedures, and saving supplemental materials in a big 3-ring binder are fast disappearing.  


Today, there are countless ways to plan and deliver a lesson, but teachers still seek ways to simplify the process. If you’re looking for new ways to streamline and/or enrich your planning, try one of the following and see how it works for you.  


Gather lessons online with open online educational resources (OER) such as OER Commons.  

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain. In other words, you can use the plans with students and share them with colleagues without asking for permission.  


Enliven a current plan with a new tool such as Google Maps.  

For example, educator Caitlin Tucker (ASCD, 2016) drops pins in different locations on Google Maps to teach story setting. Each pin has a creative writing prompt or the first line of a story that students need to complete. After students select their pins, they explore the area surrounding their pins via Google Earth to write their setting descriptions. This activity personalizes the lesson by providing students with choice and voice in how they learn.  


Get resources and lessons from a museum.  

Smithsonian Science How is a live middle school program streamed through the web that takes questions from students. It provides students with real-world science through free webcasts and supplements it with plans and resources. You can also use the resources to personalize your own lessons, develop a research project, or generate an interactive class experience.  


Use templates to streamline planning.  

Common Curriculum is an online lesson-planning and calendar tool. Teachers can customize plans with templates for subject areas and personal teaching styles. The site is easy to navigate and can definitely streamline the process. Their motto is “Take the busy work out of lesson planning, and spend more time changing lives.”  


Draw your plans with a visual, graphic organizer such as a concept map or a mind map.

Some teachers feel concept maps are designed for conveying knowledge, while mind maps are better at capturing information, but both are effective tools for planning. With concept maps, teachers identify key concepts and themes and draw connecting lines between related concepts. Connector lines contain keywords or phrases that summarize the relationship between the topics they connect.  


Mind maps branch off from a central idea into other associations and/or ideas. Teachers can mind map what they know about a unit by using key concepts and related information that adds depth and detail. Ideas can be grouped and topics prioritized. The process is one of discovery, classification, and decision making.

Contact Information

Debra Lemieux

If Then Creativity



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