3 Tips on How to Create an Engaging and Effective Lesson Plan

Creating a lesson plan
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I wanted to write a post that takes a topic and provides a different perspective. Often clients want long posts because of Google algorithms, but readers sometimes want something they can scan for usefullness.

If it seems like it can take forever to find a good lesson plan, you’re not alone. The web is full of plans from sites like Teachers Pay Teachers to Scholastic to New York Times and National Geographic. Finding engaging lessons that meet the required objectives is often challenging and time-consuming. What if there was a better way?

We think there is. But first we want you to know:

  • This is not a post about the different parts of a lesson plan (did I hear teachers whisper, “Thank goodness?”) If your district has a specific format, you don’t need to learn about a different one. If your district leaves you alone with lesson plan format–consider yourself lucky. You already have yours.
  • This is not a resource for finding worksheets. A search for “biology worksheets grade 8” brings up hundreds of results, and searching through them is not a good use of your time.

Tip 1: Visualize what and how you want the kids to learn the material.

visualize your lesson plan
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Close your eyes and picture your classroom. As you think about the topic, imagine yourself sitting in the back of the room. What will the kids hear and see? Will you follow a traditional structure, or do you want an exploratory lesson? As you visualize the lesson, you can better decide what you need to find.

Tip 2: Use Google Effectively

Forget putting generic terms into the Google search box. Doing so pulls up the websites that pay people to have their site be on the first page of a Google search. Instead, type in your question, and be specific. For example, type in “commutative property,” and you will get everything from Wikipedia articles to Teachers Pay Teachers to Pinterest.

Google lesson plans
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Now type in “How can I teach commutative property of addition to 5th graders.” The first thing that pops up is 3 short videos. Maybe one of those could be used as a hook or to introduce the lesson. Using a specific search doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run across generic sites, but it will eliminate many of them.

Tip #3: Pick and Choose

Think of the internet as a repository of artifacts related to teaching a topic. You are the curator, picking out the good from bad, useful to useless. Use bits and pieces from various websites. For example, in a few minutes I found the following:

  • An introductory word problem that would serve as a hook from cK-12.  I picture the kids working with a partner or by themselves to figure it out.
  • A video from Mathantics. The videos are a little silly, and kids like that.
  • A worksheet from Common Core. As I was visualizing my class, I reminded myself that they do well with some structured process.
  • A hands-on activity, multi-sensory activity.  

Final Thoughts:

lesson plans
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Lesson plans, with their goals and objectives and other components, often seem directed to other adults. But lesson plans ignore the kids you have in front of you. Use these tips to effectively create engaging lessons.

Do you have any favorite tips? If so, share them with us.

For additional articles on teaching tips, check out the article on 4 Ways to Make Students Like Grammar and other posts.


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