How to Plan Effective Lessons

Although lesson plans almost always detail what will be taught, they less frequently include how the content is to be taught. It’s the “how,” says Peter Brunn, director of professional development at the Developmental Studies Center in Oakland, Calif., and author of The Lesson Planning Handbook: Essential Strategies That Inspire Student Thinking and Learning, that makes all the difference in whether students actually learn.

Effective lessons have three parts: an active objective, a body, and a reflection. Active objectives invite students to construct their own understanding. During the body of the lesson, students should have the opportunity to analyze and investigate content. Brunn recommends using open-ended questions to extend learning, and to also plan for what to do when students can’t or don’t answer questions. And reflection is a time for feedback from students on what they learned, not just about the content, but what worked for their own learning, working with their peers, and the the lesson in general.

For more tips on effective lesson planning, see “How to Plan Effective Lessons,” in this month’s Education Update newsletter.