LP Structure 1

Structuring a Lesson Plan

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Tesol Class is a huge proponent of structure, and why not, structures make up our everyday lives. From houses to the human body, almost everything consists of an inner brace that makes the façade sturdy enough to withstand foreseeable problems. The art of teaching happens to be an entity that benefits greatly from an underlying structure to reach new heights or handle unforeseen problems that seem to arise at every turn.

It is easy to view lesson planning as intimidating or dismiss it as busy work. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Proper lesson planning can help the educator view the entire body of work instead of only focusing on the “glory” areas (games/fun activities) of instruction. Some areas that tend to get overlooked are student level, goals/objectives, overall course goal, how to assess learning, and structure of the procedure. In addition to these areas, threading is a very powerful lesson planning strategy that you can view by clicking on the hot link.

A lesson plan can be as detailed as the educator whishes. Below is an example of a lesson plan template.

Name: Length of Lesson: Level:
Student Age: Personality: Cultural Backgrounds:
Type of Lesson:
Main Aim (Lesson Goal) Overall Theme Goal:
Procedure:  Time:


This form can be very useful for those who are not accustom to doing lesson plans to start viewing the bigger picture. Nevertheless, there are a copious amount of lesson plan templates out there that may be more in-depth or less informative than this one. Actually, some of the information sought above may not warrant much consideration alone, but combining all the information together will provide a more detailed view.

What Do These Areas Mean and How Can They Help?

Level: What are the levels of the students? It seems like an easy question at first, but hard to answer correctly. Many students have had different experiences with English, so it’s never a one size fits all. Also, students may have studied one portion of language in detail while another area has been neglected. For example, the students may be high level with using the past tense, but have no experience using the present perfect. Are they high level or low level? This is an important aspect to consider when designing the lesson. High level students may be required to make presentations on the subject matter, but low level students wouldn’t. Often times an educator only recognizes the student level on a particular topic after the lesson begins, so it’s always wise to think about the differing levels and how to adjust activities to not overburden the student.

Personality: What are the personalities of your students? Are the students talkative, quiet, low level but outgoing, high level but introverted, young with short attention spans or many other personalities students can possess? This will be important information to consider when lesson planning. Expecting young learners to sit still for ten minutes and concentrate hard on something is probably not in the best interest of the children, the educator, or the process of learning. Likewise, expecting to hold a class discussion will be appropriate for high level talkative students, but inappropriate for low level students with no desire to study English.

Cultural Backgrounds: What is the cultural background of the students? This can be ethnically defined or defined by city limits. First, if the class consists of students of different nationalities, there may be some division amongst the students, or there may be some subjects that shouldn’t be discussed because of cultural or national improprieties. On the other hand, all students could be from the same nationality, but from different regions or backgrounds. If the educator is instructing in a poor small rural town, the likelihood of those students knowing and understanding city life will probably not be very high. The culture of the learner and the language can be a central aspect depending on the topic and the objective of the lesson.

Purpose/Goals/Objectives: Why is the lesson being taught and what do you want the students to learn? This sounds very easy, but might be hard to define. Unfortunately, instruction has boiled down to teaching information because it’s in the book. Outlining purpose/goals/objectives will allow the educator to view the material in reference to an end result. Normally, these are ‘be going to’ statements that are very simple like: The students will be able to give directions to others . The students will be able to understand directions to find places.

Type of Lesson: Which of the four skills will be taught? Is the lesson solely listening, or is it listening, speaking, and writing? This is totally up to the needs of the course, but defining this will allow the educator to review the lesson plan and assess if each area is adequately covered.

Materials: What materials will be used in the lesson? New educators utilize this information to consider all the items they will need to prepare for class. This is normally not necessary for experienced educators, but regardless of experience, it can be very helpful to have written down in an effort not to overlook materials needed before attending class.

Main Aim/Goal: What will the students learn? This is a general statement about the aim or goal of the class. This should not be problematic as it is a normal focus for all educators. Example: The students will learn how to give directions.

Overall Theme Goal: How does this relate to past and future lessons? This is often an overlooked aspect of lesson planning. It is easy to become short sided and only view one lesson at a time. However, this section will force the educator to view the overall connection of the semester/year and piece it together. Although it’s impossible to relate every lesson goal together, it is a good habit to establish connections from lesson to lesson which is recommend by various learning theories.

Assessment: How will the educator know the students are learning? Assessment can be one of the most difficult portions of lesson planning. When the word assessment gets used, the majority of educators think quizzes and tests. However, assessment can be as simple as visually observing the students during the learning process. Although visual is a valid form of assessment, educators must understand assessing at the time of learning may not actually reflect what the students have learned. During that time, it will be easy for students to recall information as it has been stored in short term memory. A more accurate assessment can be made the following class, especially if it is a weekly class, as students will only retain a portion of what was taught.

Assessment will be covered more in an article dedicated to the subject on a later date. Types of assessment will depend on which of the four skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) are being covered.

Procedure/Design: What is the sequential arrangement of the class? How will the lesson be taught and divided into different segments? This may vary depending on the students, learning philosophy, educator’s style, and other factors. Normally, there will be three, four, or five sections within a class based on the educator’s preference.


Three Segments

Four Segments

Five Segments


Teaching Lesson

Post Activity

Warm Up


Teaching Lesson

Post Activity



Teaching Lesson

Post Activity

Wrap Up


As usual, this kind of design is up to the educator’s discretion, but a predetermined sequence will make it easier to arrange a class. In addition to easier lesson planning, keeping a design structure in place for sequential classes will allow students to unconsciously adhere to a format and allocate more energy to what is being taught instead of figuring out what they are going to doing next.

For example, in a four segment design with a  pre-activity, teaching lesson, post activity, and free talking, students will begin to realize the first activity is related to what the students will learn in the lesson. This can be used as a student assessment for the educator. After the pre-activity, students know the main purpose of the lesson will be presented and requires strict focus. When the main lesson is finished, the students will be asked to do an activity to demonstrate the use of this information. After this activity is completed, students will be asked to participate in a free talking exercise. This kind of segmentation relates to behaviorism in the form of habit formation.

Time: How much time will be needed to complete each sequence? This is really beneficial to new educators as it helps provide a sense of timing to the lesson. This non-assuming area of the lesson plan can provide assistance with staying on track as far as time management is concerned. Usually, experienced educators prefer not to use a time section in lesson planning as they have honed the skill of time management.

Applying Lesson Planning Strategies

If an educator is not used to lesson planning in this fashion, then trying to lesson plan this way may be a little overwhelming. If this is the case, try picking a few points from above and applying them to the lesson plan. Also, the educator should feel free to disregard any point or strategy that doesn’t match his style. However, all strategies should be available for future use as educators are constantly developing and it may prove valuable for future application.