Lesson Planning

What is Lesson Planning?

When planning curriculum you are creating a big picture road map for an educational program.  This road map determines how students will interact in order to accomplish an outlined set of educational goals.  Lesson planning is similar to curriculum planning in the sense that you are still creating a road map, but unlike the road map created from curriculum planning the road map created from lesson planning is more specific.  A lesson plan outlines what students will learn and how they will learn it. The following three points are the main components of a lesson plan:

  • Objectives or desired outcomes
  • Evidence
  • Teaching/learning activities



Writing Effective Learning Objectives

Just as you must first determine outcomes when planning curriculum, when lesson planning it is important to first determine the objectives the students will meet. Objectives of a lesson will ensure you use valid assessment strategies and determine how you plan the remainder of the learning experience.  A learning objective should be able to easily answer the question of what a student will be able to do after the learning experience that they could not do before.

A well written learning objective can be easily observed, can be easily measured, and has 4 major components.  These four components follow an ABCD model, can be arranged in any order, and are as follows:

  1. Audience—the intended learner.  The audience can be broad or very specific. example:  students or Quantitative Genetics Students
  2. Behavior— is a verb that describes the knowledge or skill the intended learner will be able to demonstrate after the lesson.  This behavior should be both observable and measurable.  example:  understand, analyze, demonstrate  
  3. Condition—equipment, tools, or resources that the learner may use in order to complete the behavior.  example: 
  4. Degree—states the acceptable mastery for the objective.  This can be difficult to determine for some behaviors.  example: 100% accuracy or 9 out of 10 times

Once you have determined the behavior students will master, it is important to be sure you are using the right language to classify the behavior.  Bloom's Revised Taxonomy can help you classify the behaviors, and identify the level thinking that will be assessed.  The revised taxonomy can help you classify learning objectives based on the cognitive complexity of the behavior.  There are six dimensions which fall on a continuum of lower order thinking skills to higher order thinking skills.  The image below shows the six dimensions of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy, a short definition of each, and examples of verbs which can be associated with them.  The three dimensions on the bottom will test students' lower order thinking skills while the three dimensions on the top will test students' higher order thinking skills.



For an interactive model of how to use Bloom's Revised Taxonomy follow this link to a page by Iowa State University's Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching: http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/effective-teaching-practices/revised-blooms-taxonomy

For examples on rewriting learning objectives to follow the ABCD model, visit the Examples of Effective Learning Objectives article.


Examples of Effective Learning Objectives

The following are examples of objectives that did not originally follow the ABCD format, but they have been rewritten to do so.  The revised version of each objective will also have each ABCD component labelled. 

  1. Original:  Understand the sexual reproduction processes of pollination, fertilization, and seed development. 

Revised:  C: Given the Reproduction in Crop Plants PBEA e-Module, A: Crop Genetics Students will B: illustrate the sexual reproduction processes of pollination, fertilization, and seed development D: with 100% accuracy.

  1. Original:  Learn to navigate the Workbench interface

Revised: A: Students will B: demonstrate they can navigate the Workbench interface C: given the Breeding Management System PBEA e-module D: with 100% accuracy.

  1. Original:  Make F1 nursery list and advance

Revised:  C:  Given the Breeding Management System—Advance a Crop Nursery  PBEA e-Module, A:  students will B: create F1nursery list and advance D:  with 100% accuracy.

  1. Original:  Demonstrate pedigree writing

Revised:  A: Crop Improvement Students will B:  demonstrate pedigree writing D:  with 100% accuracy when C:  given the Pedigree Naming Systems and Symbols PBEA e-Module.


How will you know your students have met your learning objectives?


After you have clearly outlined your learning objectives or desired results, you will move onto the next stage of lesson planning—planning assessments.  In order to do this you should ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What evidence can show that students have reached the desired learning objectives?
  2. What assessment tasks and other evidence will guide our instruction?
  3. What should we look for to determine the extent of student understanding?

It is very important to first consider how you will know that students achieved the outcomes before planning the instruction.  Assessment evidence should prove that the students have met the desired outcomes, rather than simply generate grades.  Using one form of assessment at the end of a teaching unit is likely not going to give you the best idea of how well students understand the material.  It is important use a variety of assessment methods to gather evidence as you progress through a lesson.

Use the attached template to help you begin!