5 lesson planning tips for teachers using instructional design (2023)

Lesson planning is truly the art of teaching. Learning how to write a lesson plan takes practice to find what works best for you and your students. Lesson plans often degrade to mere outlines of planned activities, but when instructional design is included, they become the source of truth for creating engaging learning experiences in the classroom.

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How do you write a lesson plan?

Lesson plans describe what to do before class, during class, and after class. The basics of a lesson plan should include learning objectives, standards, materials, timing, sequencing, and assessments. There are many different templates or templates for lesson planning, with elements that may differ depending on the philosophical approach or techniques adopted in the school. However, before diving into mapping a lesson, it's a good idea to look at solid instructional design strategies.

What is instructional design?

Instructional design goes far beyond the mere production of lesson plans or accompanying instructional materials. Instructional design includes the goals for student learning and the methodology for achieving those goals, always keeping in mind how people best engage in their learning journey. While teaching as a discipline is grounded in science, its magic lies in the art that educators bring to it. As author and educator Mark Van Doren said, "The art of teaching is the art of aiding discovery."

However, as with any artistic endeavour, there is no solid and fast blueprint for creating truly immersive experiences. When it comes to the classroom, we have some tried and true models based on theory, research, and practice, but the best teachers add their own flavor to these classroom recipes to transform learning experiences for each and every student. Instructional design is not an easy task, but that is the beauty and the challenge for educators in everyday life.

5 lesson planning tips for teachers using instructional design

1. Design Inverted

When it comes to instructional design, many teachers are tempted to jump into a fun activity they've seen in action or read about; there is a lot of inspiration posted daily by our "educalebs" in the world of blogs and social media. However, according to researchers Wiggins and McTighe, it's best to start with a reverse design.upside down designIt is a fundamental concept in instructional design.

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In your book,understanding by design, Wiggins, and McTight describe the reverse design as consisting of three sequential stages. First, you must establish your overall learning objectives and identify the desired outcomes of your instruction; the eyes are on the ultimate goals. You then work backwards to determine what evidence you want to see as to whether those goals were achieved. Only lastly should you plan and design the activity or learning experience. In traditional lesson planning, it can be difficult to control the creativity and excitement surrounding a good idea.

Likewise, thinking about an assessment often comes at the end of lesson planning, a final step. However, by keeping the end in sight first, children will be more engaged and their knowledge will become more transferable. Its systematic approach and sequencing of scaffolding lesson plans will yieldbest student results.

Once you have the results in mind,Nearpodcan be used in your class project by leveraging Nearpod reports as part of the acceptable evidence and then investigating some of the interactive features and activities such as Draw It orto support overall learning goals and lesson objectives. Also, consider how to write a lesson plan using these tips on Nearpod. Matching lessons can be selected, organized and hosted in a lesson library.

(Video) Lesson Planning: Development 101

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2. Evaluation

Speaking of goal setting and "acceptable evidence," it's helpful to have a refresher on the types of assessments to continually insert into your lesson plan for daily instruction. Although there are many ways to decomposeassessments, four common types are diagnostic, formative, provisional, and summative.

diagnostic evaluations

Consider how you can usediagnostic evaluationsto better understand where your students are starting - a snapshot or a baseline if you prefer.

  • What prior knowledge do they have (from school or home)?
  • What is the breakdown of understanding between the whole class?
  • How does the data inform my planning?

formative assessments

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Tissueformative assessmentsThroughout Lesson Planning: These instant comprehension checks can inform you how you need to revise your plans for the next lesson.

  • What concepts did the students understand?
  • Where are the gaps in your understanding?
  • Which students need extra reinforcement before moving on?
  • What adjustments do I need to make?

Interim or baseline assessments

Designed for larger groups of students, such as the school or the entire district,intermediate or comparative evaluationsprovide information on the group's progress towards these goals at defined intervals over a given period of time.

  • What patterns are emerging?
  • Where are there significant gaps?
  • How can features be changed to meet needs?

summative assessments

As the name suggests,summative assessmentsthey are more conclusive in terms of assessing performance at the end or after learning, but remember, assessments are really a reflection of how well the subject was taught, not the student's abilities. If a summative assessment falls short of expectations, educators need to reflect on their methods.

  • How was it overall?
  • Were the goals met?
  • How does this data guide the next steps?

Other types of assessment that are frequently referred to fall into the categories of standards-based assessments and criteria-based assessments. However, these are another nut to crack in another article due to the politicized nature of suchstandardized tests.

With Nearpod, you can use the Quiz feature to check student comprehension. In addition, you can understand the understanding of the whole group using a survey. Additional interactive assessment tools you can use are Matching Pairs and Drag & Drop, or add some competition with Time to Climb. Also consider weaving in open-ended techniques during assessments with activities such as Draw or Open-ended Questions. Find many pre-existing assessment ideas atNearpod Activity Banks. Reports allow access to real-time student data that can be analyzed.

Explore Nearpod's assessment tools

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3. Student learning objectives

Depending on how educational institutions are structured, standards are designed to help set expectations about what students should know and when. However, standards may vary depending on philosophies and literal location. But standards can be a guiding force inlesson planningestablishment of goals and elaboration of evaluations. Then you, as a teacher, can create the most practical learning objectives for students at the class level.


So, with standards in mind, articulated goals, and assessments in mind, now is the time to articulate the evidence-based lessons you're looking for. We call these practical statementsstudent learning goalsor student learning outcomes. This is a crucial element in learning how to write a lesson plan. A common student-centered way of framing them is the SWBAT model:Students will be able to…

After this sentence, you can list some concrete goals for your students when planning the lesson. But the catch is that learning objectives must be SMART: specific, measurable, practical, results-oriented, and time-bound. With such details, learning objectives can help guide both teacher instruction and student learning.

flora taxonomy

One way to refine and modify learning objectives to strengthen them is to incorporate Bloom's Taxonomy, which provides a framework for promoting higher-order thinking. Bloom's taxonomy emphasizes a hierarchy of skills and levels of proficiency that can be linked to action verbs. Take a moment to reflect on the difference between these two learning objectives:

  • EXAMPLE 1: Students will be able to understand figurative language.
  • EXAMPLE 2: Students will be able to identify two examples of figurative language in the poem by Langston Hughes,How about a postponed dream?at the end of class.

Notice how the specificity of example 2 comes with the strong action verb, the quantifiable measure, and the time frame? Revised learning objectives mean no gray areas! Take some of your own learning objectives or pull from some of the shared lesson plans. Dissect them a little to assess their effectiveness. Are they framed as SMART learning objectives? Can you revise them to make them stronger and SMARTer learning objectives?

To see how others are approaching students' learning objectives (and then lining up with enriched activities), filter Nearpod's Lesson Library of thousands of K-12 lessons usingthe pattern-based search function. Don't forget that you can save any existing lesson and modify it to suit your students; it needs. Change the text, add new content, media or features and enhance it with more interactive Nearpod activities.

Explore the library of free lessons

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4. Class project

These learning objectives often appear at the top of lesson plans. There are many lesson plan designs or templates, and preference comes down to the educational philosophies you (or your district) believe in.

Madeline Hunter Learning Mastery Model

A common and proven format that you can develop and modify as needed is theMadeline Hunter Learning Mastery Model, sometimes called the direct instruction model. The Doctor. Hunter believed that all lesson plans should encompass seven elements:

  1. 1. Goals/Standards
  2. 2. Advance set
  3. 3. Input/Modeling
  4. 4. Comprehension checks
  5. 5. Guided Practice
  6. 6. Independent Practice*
  7. 7. Closing*

*Csometimes be exchanged

advance set

Many changed these elements or called them by another name. For example, you could use an anticipatory set or call it a warm-up activity, a sponge, or a connection to prior knowledge, but all of these concepts are designed to engage and focus students' attention and empower them to consider the what they want. already know about a subject, a certain topic and what else they would like to learn about it. Similarly, some reframe the idea of ​​modeling or direct instruction, guided practice, and independent practice into the Gradual Release from Responsibility (GRR) Model of I DO, WE DO, YOU DO to encourage student independence.

Explore and evaluate how other educators design their lesson plans. Consider adopting the model to a model that works best for you (and your district) to maximize student engagement! Also, consider writing a lesson plan with reflection notes at the bottom to see what worked well and what didn't work so well over the years. This careful practice will make planning your lessons an iterative process based on your students' needs, not your planning book.

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In addition to viewing the Nearpod library as a bank of ideas, where you can modify and customize existing lessons for your classroom, you can create your owncontent slidesin Nearpod. To start, each slide can address one of the seven elements of a lesson plan. Remember, you can organize these lessons into folders to share with an administrator for lesson review or with colleagues when teaching as a team.

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5. Adoption of educational technology

Last but not least, careful adoption of edtech really does make your job easier if your goal is to maximize your time by engaging students in their own learning journey. However, using technology to teach and learn is very different from using technology in our everyday lives.


doctor Rubén Puentedura shared his popularSAMRmodel, a framework we can use to assess the purpose of using educational technologies. Devices and tools are often mere substitutes for old practices. And while substitution can be a first step, we need to consider edtech as an integral part of our educational project. He suggests challenging ourselves to move from mere improvement to improvement.ReplacementyIncreaseto transformation throughModificationyreset.

  • Replacement: Does the task require technology? How could it be improved with technology?
  • Increase: How could technology be an essential component of this task? How is homework improved?
  • Modification: How can technology transform the learning experience? How does the task change significantly?
  • reset: How can technology enable the creation of new tasks or opportunities? How do you reset the learning objectives to something that wasn't possible before?


Another model that is useful throughout the school and among teaching teams isTPACK. TPACK encourages us as educators to think about where our experience intersects and how we can focus on strengthening weaker areas through thoughtful professional development and collaboration. TPACK focuses on three complex and intersectional types of knowledge: technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge. This visual model shows the seven resulting areas, the epicenter being a fusion of all: TPACK. Many educators feel secure in their pedagogical and content knowledge and experience, but less so in technology. With this vision, schools can establish significant professional growth opportunities for the upcoming school year to enhance all instructional design efforts. Technology no longer becomes just an add-on, a reward, or a thorn in the side; it has become an essential element of teaching and learning today.

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Teachers and students can leverage the creative side of Nearpod, addressing a myriad of needs through multimedia integrations, interactive activities and formative assessment tools. If you are looking for an edtech tool to create lessons to share with students,Nearpod offers all these solutions in one place.

Now is the time to create your lesson plan

Instructional design and lesson planning is a craft that deserves to be revisited year after year as new methodologies and trends emerge. As you learn to write a lesson plan, take a moment to reflect on your own philosophies and how they align with those of your school. Consider how each lesson can address and meet the diverse needs found in your classroom. Ask yourself how your pedagogy is based on solid research and yet is uniquely yours. And continue to be that eternal learner that all of us, as educators, hope to cultivate in our students.

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Interested in reading more about this topic? Take a look at this blog post:22 Tips I Wish I'd Known As a Freshman Teacher

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Esteban Darri

(Video) Lesson Planning: What is Required?

Darri Stephens is a dedicated LX (Learning Experience) designer, passionate about creating quality content and programs for kids, families, and educators. With Masters in Education from Harvard and Stanford and experience working at top edtech organizations including Wonder Workshop, Nickelodeon and Common Sense Education, she is immersed in the design thinking process and committed to agile and iterative project management. . that resulted in award-winning programs and products.


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