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Lesson Planning

When you embark upon your initial teacher training, you WILL need to plan lessons. A word of warning - these will be in a LOT of detail and will, when you first start out, take a long time to complete and you need to be prepared to spend a fair amount of time planning your lessons and thinking about how you will teach and what the students will learn.

There are lots of great tips for lesson planning out there, and I don't believe in reinventing the wheel - if it's already out there, use it. @teachertoolkit has some great tips which also includes the #5minlessonplan - a great place to start when you are drafting out your plan.

Your training provider will have a set format for your lesson planning, but in general, you will need to include the following elements:

Firstly, an overview which will include the subject, date, time of lesson, duration of lesson, unit of work, class ID, number of pupils, the lesson number in the sequence of lessons (e.g. 1 of 4) and the title/focus of the lesson.

Next you will need to look at the links to the standards and your targets. This bit is really useful for your mentor as it gives them a real focus on what you would like them to be looking for in your lesson. Which of the teacher sub-standard(s) are you attempting to exemplify in this lesson? Make a note of that too.

After this you will need to identify the aims/objectives of the lesson; please see my other post on Learning Objectives for help with this - but in general, what do you want students to understand by the end of this lesson?

Think then about your different groups of learners... how will you stretch those of high ability? How will you support those with low prior attainment? Some training providers will ask you to differentiate your learning outcomes by, for example, using All, Most and Some or Must, Should, Could. It is advisable to check the language here is appropriate for your school setting as many schools are moving away from communicating these with students. ‘Groups’ should be identified and might include the gifted and talented (G&T), those with disabilities, Additional Learning Needs (ALN) or Special Educational Needs (SEN), Looked after children (LAC), English as an additional language (EAL), Free School Meals (FSM), Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) and so on

Are there any students in your class with an educational need who would require additional support? For example, a student with dyslexia may need their resource on blue paper. Make a note of any strategies that you have picked up from Learning Passports or EHCPs and how you will use them in the lesson.

Write out a list of the resources you will need for the lesson. Again, some providers use cloud-based storage such as Google Drive/Classroom to store all evidence so it is helpful to put a link to the resources in the list. This will make your evidence bundles so much easier to collate later on in your course.

Make a note of any homework or extended learning you will set for the students too.

Once all that "preamble" is done, it is time to start planning your lesson and timings. Please try and remember that when you are starting out, these will be rough! Your first few lesson will either be grossly overplanned or significantly underplanned... it is important to remember that you are LEARNING and your mentor will help you to streamline your lesson plans. Ensure that you stick to any deadlines set out for advanced sending of lesson plans - your mentor will be a very busy person and deadlines will be set at a particular time for a particular reason.

Start each "phase" or section of your lesson on a new line in a table so that it formats well and is easily readable.

Include the rough timing for the activity.

Think about the 3Is - intent, implementation and impact.


Describe the intended learning for each activity, with clear links or reference to the aims, objectives and/or success criteria you have set out in the preamble.


Next, describe the teaching activities and strategies, and pupil activities. This should include key points/concepts for explanations and modelling and key questions for questions and discussions. Detailing pupil activities separate from teacher activities will help to ensure that the balance of the lessons is in favour of pupils’ learning. The relationship between the activities, the learning and the assessment should be clear. Logistical arrangements for assessment activities should be included here. For example:

  • Teacher models how to interrogate a picture using projection and writing key questions next to example picture; e.g. What does the picture show? Are there links between items? What are the implications of X, Y or Z?

  • Small groups interrogate pictures of City. Differentiated pictures used to scaffold responses and challenge the more able.


Finally, you need to consider the assessment of the learning activity. Provide the criteria that will determine the success of the activity. This is important even where the response may seem obvious. Stating the intended response and/or outcome is important to clarify expectations. For example, Pupils are able to identify buildings that pertain to industry and evidence of industrial activity. Most pupils draw conclusions beyond the picture – e.g. the canal was built to transport materials

You will be expected to evaluate your lesson after you have completed it - try and do this as soon as you can after delivery so that it is fresh in your mind.

What have some individual [named] pupils learned in relation to your stated learning outcomes? Mere description of the lesson is inadequate here, as are bland statements such as “the pupils achieved all of the intended learning…”. Responses need to reflect the extent to which intended learning was achieved the quality of learning. The named pupils should include those highlighted in the preamble where you have identified specific students.

What is the evidence for this? This section is a continuation and is intended to foster analysis, not merely description; it may be preferable to treat these two sections as one. Specific examples or instances from the lessons should be cited to clarify evaluative judgements made about named pupils.

What additional, unexpected or unplanned outcomes were apparent in this lesson? References to enjoyment or behaviour are only significant in terms of how they affect achievement and progress.

What learning targets for some individual pupils need to be set? The emphasis here is on learning targets rather than behavioural targets.

What aspects of the lesson were successful, and why? This needs to be objective and analytical; the what, how and why of the lesson. Strengths and achievements are also important and should be discussed. How pupils responded and reacted to the teaching might also be significant.

What are your action points for the next time you teach this group and/or lesson? (Transfer to the next lesson plan for this group/lesson). Identifying significant features must lead to strategies to change, develop or refine practice. Analysis must lead to action! For this reason, the requirement to complete this section is relaxed after Easter.

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