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How to Write a Lesson Plan in 5 Simple Steps: A Recipe for Success

How to Write a Lesson Plan in 5 Simple Steps: A Recipe for Success

Craft effective lesson plans effortlessly. Learn to set objectives, design activities, and use templates for engaging student learning. Streamline your teaching today!


Teachers and tutors face unique challenges when addressing the needs of their students. They must engage them while maintaining rigor, challenge them while meeting their individual learning needs, and provide them with unique lessons that meet predetermined standards and objectives. It’s a tall order. 

So, how do educators write a lesson plan that does all of these things without occupying all of their time? They copy each other!

This article discusses five key steps in creating an effective lesson plan, guidelines for structuring a lesson plan, and resources and templates to help you write the most engaging activities for your students.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel whenever you write a lesson and teach effectively. You just need a reliable method and the right resources.

Before You Start: Planning for Lessons

Before writing a lesson plan, you must know your lesson's why, what, when, who, and how. What objectives are you measuring, and how will students show you what they understand? Who are the students who need to access this lesson? How are you going to deliver the lesson? And when do you anticipate the task will end?

To write a lesson that responds to these questions, you must focus on these essential curriculum components. 

  • Set clear, measurable objectives
  • Identify the appropriate teaching strategies
  • Prepare necessary materials and resources
  • Create a detailed timeline
  • Include differentiated instructions
  • Incorporate assessment methods

Have a rough idea of how you envision each component coming together, and list the objectives and core competencies students will demonstrate. Once you have your objective, you will build your lesson plan around it.  

Step 1: Define the Objective

You must have a clear learning objective before you even start to plan lessons. You can access standards through your State’s Department of Education, or another educational body, as a reference. Once you know what standards you want to address, you will write a learning objective for the lesson.

Some techniques to help you write a quality objective include the following:

  • Make your objective SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive).
  • Use action verbs like demonstrate, identify, argue, or explain.
  • Make sure the objective is student-centered.
  • Keep it concise (one sentence).

These examples show what a polished objective looks like.

By the end of this lesson, the student will be able to identify the main topic and two supporting details in a paragraph and share their written response with a partner. 

By the end of this lesson, the student will be able to correctly apply the order of operations to solve math problems that include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by creating and responding to student-generated problems. 

  • By the end of this lesson, the student will demonstrate their understanding of a monarch butterfly’s lifecycle by creating a diagram, or other creative representation, to illustrate each stage of a monarch’s life.

Each of these objectives is concise and follows the SMART outline. They are also broad enough to allow for differentiation. For example, a student with dysgraphia may decide to make a video or record a podcast about the lifecycle of a butterfly. 

Step 2: Design the Instructional Materials

Different components make up a comprehensive lesson plan. Once your objective is lined out, you must plan the activities and gather or create your instructional materials.

Instructional materials may include any of the following:

  • Visual aids
  • Handouts or shared files
  • Learning technology: digital whiteboards, software, web resources
  • Manipulatives 
  • Flashcards
  • Supplemental reading or videos
  • Textbooks 
  • Supplies (utensils, glue, paint)

The learning supplies you choose will depend on the learning objective and the standards you want your students to demonstrate. Writing the objective first is essential in writing a lesson plan because it steers every following step. 

Step 3: Map the Lesson Activities

To maximize student learning and engagement, sequence your lesson’s activities so students have enough time to complete them but not so much time they become bored. Having a variety of activities throughout the lesson that call on different learning styles will help engage each student throughout the lesson. 

Pro tip: Break your lesson into four key sequences and determine the pacing or time you want to allow for each.

Generally, each lesson should include the following activities:

Opening/Bell Ringer

Get your students engaged with a brief activity to activate their brains and start thinking about what they will learn that day. A bell ringer activity could be a question that students respond to in a journal, a quick game or riddle, or a problem they solve with a partner. This activity should be short (5 minutes) and lead to the main activity of the lesson.

Instructions and Main Activity

After you wrap up your bell ringer, you will go over your lesson’s objective and give any instructions or background information for your main activity. Remember to differentiate your instruction and allow for several pathways to completion. You will also set any expectations and answer student questions. Your introduction and instructions shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Most of your time will be spent on the main activity of your lesson. The pacing will vary depending on the time needed to gather materials and clean up. If your lesson will take more than one day, allow enough time at the beginning and end of each session to allow for this. Your main activity should conclude with enough time to accommodate your formative assessment and lesson wrap-up.

Formative Assessment

This is where you check in with students to see what they understand from the lesson. It allows you to gauge where your students are with the material so you can determine your next course of action. Your options span a wide range of delivery methods and multimedia options. We will explain this more in the next step.


Before having students move on from a lesson, allow 2-3 minutes to reflect at the end of the task. This could be done with another journal entry or a quick survey at the end of the lesson.

Step 4: Determine Formative Assessment Method

Finding creative, student-centered ways for students to demonstrate their learning is vital to engagement and inclusion, so don’t breeze over this with a worksheet or written quiz. At the end of a unit, you will then have a more formal summative assessment.

Some formative assessment options include the following:

  • KWL Chart
  • Note Catchers
  • Illustrate an Important Scene
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Write a letter to…
  • Teach it to the class (or a partner)
  • Interactive game
  • One minute essay
  • Pop Quiz

Deciding which formative assessment to use comes down to understanding your students and how they engage best with a subject based on their age, interest level, and learning styles. 

Pro tip: Avoid falling into the trap of using the same type of formative assessment for every lesson. While it may be easier to get into a routine and stick with it, students will be more engaged with variety. It also allows different strengths to shine through. 

Step 5: Review and Revise

Reviewing and revising a lesson plan before and after you implement it is essential. You want to ensure that it is clear enough for a substitute teacher to follow without your help. It should also explain where to access all materials and resources for future reference.

Have a colleague or instructional coach review your lesson plan and provide brief feedback to get started. You can return the favor to a colleague and improve both lesson plans. You can also ask a colleague or coach to sit in on the lesson and make observations. Note any hiccups when you deliver the lesson and revise the lesson plan based on what you learned. It may seem time-consuming now, but you can use it again and share it with other teachers, saving much time in the long run.

Lesson Plan Templates and Resources

If you are pressed for time and don’t want to write an entire lesson plan from scratch, you can use several helpful teaching websites with templates and complete lesson plans. While many of these sites require membership to access all resources, they have been vetted and used by real teachers. 


Edraw is a graphic diagramming and mind-mapping software with free templates you can download and share. This could work with helping write a lesson plan or creating visual supports and presentations for a lesson. Find their lesson plan template here

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teacher Pay Teachers is a one-stop shop for all things lesson planning. Resources, lesson plans, and templates are created and used by teachers, which they then share through the platform. It is an excellent resource for teachers and tutors, and you can make extra money sharing your lessons and templates with other educators.

You can find this lesson plan template here. uses standard lesson plan formats to create templates teachers can use in their classrooms. Their templates include standards, objectives, materials, activities, and extensions. While you will need to create an account to gain access to all of their templates and resources, there is a wealth of time-saving resources available.


Teachers and tutors do not have to sacrifice all of their free time to write engaging lesson plans. With helpful resources, tips, and templates, the task is easier to complete, and you will start to build your own library of lesson plans to choose from. 

Following the five essential steps to write an engaging lesson plan and utilizing teacher-vetted resources is the best way to create lessons loved by students with a little more time and your sanity intact. 

Need help streamlining the administrative task for your tutoring business?

Streamlining your lesson planning is just one piece of the pie. Running a tutoring business requires a lot of administrative tasks, which can quickly overwhelm any business owner. Try Practice for free and provide your students with a more enriching experience.

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