H. Jurgen Combs


This section of my web page is currently being updated so it may look a less coherent - thank you for your understanding.

NOTE - as you go through the material on lesson plans development, it will generally work best if you hit the BACK arrow at the top of your browser window - that way you are able to go back to the spot from which you linked to the new page.  If course, you can also use the links at the bottom of each page.


Planning involves several stages; the major two with which we are concerned at this point is UNIT PLANNING and LESSON PLANNING. Unit planning will be covered at a later point; at this stage, we will deal with individual lesson plan design.

At the Pre-Planning stage, before you actually plan your lesson, be sure you have sufficient information about the students' past and present knowledge and achievement levels.  Much of the research indicates that students who are not successful in learning a lesson fail to learn because they lack the pre-requisite skills.


Try to visualize your lesson from beginning to end:

  • what materials will be needed
  • how much time does the lesson take
  • is the lesson appropriate for the students' level of comprehension
  • are you addressing a variety of learning styles and teaching at more than the basic level of recall
  • are you comfortable with the content - do you know the content well enough to teach it

At the Active Planning Stage, you are at the point where content - WHAT you will teach, becomes very important.

We will be using the HUNTER Model for the planning of our lessons; Madeline Hunter taught at the lab school at UCLA and was very involved in researching the methods that good teachers use in presenting their lessons.  Dr. Hunter developed a planning model which will become clear later; the model of the lesson plan that you will use is based on her work.

Your lesson plan is intended to serve as YOUR guide when you teach the lesson; consequently, vague statements in your plans similar to the following are not going to assist you, "I will review the steps to develop a database." If the purpose of the lesson plan is to help insure proper planning and appropriate delivery of the lesson, you must think about the steps that students need to follow and then include those steps in your plan.  The latter is especially important in light of our limited working memory; when we are teaching, we are expected to be aware of everything that is occurring in the room (Kounin's with-it-ness or situational awareness) as well keep a focus on the lesson.  That requires that the lesson serve as a guide in case our working memory gets overwhelmed - and it will!  Consequently, you must list the steps that are involved in the process.

Similarly, when you "review" at the beginning of the lesson, writing a vague statement such as "I will review the basic facts in American history" there will be little guidance.  Obviously, if you write a sentence like that, you have some idea of what you want to cover; however, you must list those points that you want to cover to insure that they come in proper sequence, that you have not omitted any that are crucial to the lesson, and that serve as a guide when your working memory is taxed to its limits.

Also note that that the focus in review and closure of your lesson is on the student - it is much more appropriate to write it as follows, "I will ask students to explain the major reasons for the break away from England, including: no representation in decision making, the Quartering Act, and the lack of perceived religious freedom."  Note that there may be other reasons for the break, however these would have been the ones that were stressed in class and which are key in understanding today's lesson.

Before we look at individual lesson planning, let's consider some of the important aspect of the process in which you will be involved before you start filling out the daily lesson plan.

As you begin to plan, consider the following:

  1. CONTENT - is the content to be learned appropriate for this group of learners?
    • input - how can this content best be delivered to these students?
    • output - how can the learning that has taken place be validated?
  3. TEACHER BEHAVIOR - what can the teacher do to increase the likelihood that these students will learn?
    • motivation theory
      • levels of concern
      • feeling/tone
      • success/level of difficulty
      • interest
      • knowledge of results
      • extrinsic/intrinsic rewards
    • retention theory
      • meaning
      • degree of original learning
      • feeling tone
      • positive transfer
      • practice
        • meaning
        • modeling
        • monitoring
        • how much?
        • how long?
        • how often?
        • how well?
    • reinforcement theory
      • positive
      • negative
      • extinction
      • schedule
    • transfer theory
      • similarity
      • association
      • degree of original learning
      • critical attributes
  4. INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVE - is the content to be learned stated specifically and in terms of observable student behavior?

The importance of good planning cannot be overemphasized. There are many signs which provide signals that are likely to reveal a network of related problems that will be evident in the classroom throughout the year.

PLANNING involves several components. During the course of your lesson you will be involved in the following:

Content analysis Diagnosis
Prescription Instruction

This is a cycle which will continue every day during the year.


While there are some variations in lesson plan designs as well as frequency of review of plans, all lesson plans contain some common characteristics which are outlined below. As you begin your teaching career, you will spend a considerable amount of time on planning; you will be able to decrease the time needed as you become more familiar with the content, the pedagogy as well as the terms used in lesson plan design. Good planning can prevent many problems.


Planning involves the teacher deciding what and how the students should learn; involved in the planning process are the following components:





At the end of each lesson, it is important for the teacher to EVALUATE the lesson; this is also referred to as reflective teaching.

What to look for in the problem solving lesson *

  • describe for the student the terminal performance which will constitute the solution to the problem.
  • assess the student's entering behavior for mastery of concepts and principles needed to solve the problem.
  • invoke the recall of all relevant concepts and principles
  • provide verbal direction of the student's thinking, short of giving the solution to the problem.
  • verify the student's learning by requiring a full demonstration of the problem solution.

* DeCecco, J. P. The Psychology of Learning and Instruction. Prentice Hall, 1974 (second edition).

The format for a sample lesson plan can be reached by pointing your cursor at the highlighted words and clicking. Each section of the lesson plan may be further explored by clicking on the highlighted word. To get back to the lesson plan, simply click on the BACK button at the top of the screen or click on the hypertext at the bottom of the page.

Putting it all Together

Several sample lesson plans can be found on this link; please note that these plans are not perfect - they do, however, show several key ingredients of a well written lesson plan.  As you look at these plans, keep in mind the following minimal expectations/requirements:

  • Objectives are clear - the result is observable and you know specifically what the student is expected to do to be competent.  The SOL is shown for objective. Are there are a variety of cognitive levels represented in the objectives?
  • Look at the end of the plan - is closure specifically related to the objectives?  When the teacher asks the questions in the closure, will s/he have a more accurate assessment of student competence with the objective?
  • Are the review questions specific to assist teacher in knowing clearly what students remember from previous lessons, particularly those items that must be known for today's lesson?
  • Does the lesson show specifically what the teacher will teach?  Is the input and modeling clear enough that you could take the lesson plan and teach the class?  Are sufficient examples provided for the student?  Is there evidence of monitoring student progress?
  • Does the guided practice offer the student the opportunity to truly practice what has just been taught?  Is there evidence of teacher monitoring?  Is there evidence of a "report"  back to the class or some way that the teacher can check to see how well the class is understanding the competence?
  • Is the independent practice truly practice or is it busy work?  Will it help students better understand the objectives?
  • Is there an indication in the assessment that the teacher is using a variety of assessments - projects, written, oral, hands-on, etc?
  • Does the teacher appear to have thought through the material needed for the successful teaching of the lesson and considered the need for necessary instructional material and equipment?



last updated on 27 May, 2008
H. Jurgen Combs