Formulate an Effective Lesson Plan

a couple of years ago

Whether you are preparing a Sunday School lesson, a school lesson, or a short devotional, the planning process is basically the same. Follow these four steps to create an organized and effective lesson plan.

The 4 Steps to an Effective Lesson Plan

lesson plan

A Lesson Plan Makes Things Easier

Narrow Your Topic

You probably have a pretty good idea what you plan to teach, but you need to make sure that the topic is not too broad. Suppose you plan to cover the life of Paul. Do you want to do a broad overview of his entire life? Do you want to talk, in depth, about one of his missionary journeys? Are you focusing on the historical facts or the applications of his teachings? Who is your audience?

Generally, the narrower the topic, the better. If you are having a hard time determining the focus of your topic, start with the desired outcome. What do you want your student to learn TODAY? Don’t get overwhelmed by the scope of the subject. Break off one manageable chunk and start right there. If you wish to teach your child how to read, you don’t start with sentences, you start with letters. As you begin writing your lessons, they will fall into a logical progression.

Determine Your End Goal

Your lesson plan should be focused on reaching a specific outcome. What truth, Biblical, or academic, do you wish your students to leave with? Generally, they will take away a great number of things from a lesson, but you need to have one specific idea that you drill so hard, that they have no choice but to learn it.

For example: Let’s say our topic is Psalm 1.

There is a lot of material there. The whole Psalm is lovely and there are many applications from those lines of Scripture, but unless you wish to do a broad overview, you need to decide which particular truth you want your student to walk away with.

Let’s consider the first verse, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

If I was teaching a group of teenagers, I might consider focusing on the idea that they should not seek the counsel of their unsaved friends. If that is the message, I want them to leave with, every single item of my lesson plan should point to that truth. The trick is to do it in clever and entertaining ways. That is where the next step comes into play.

Select Your Delivery Methods

Break your lesson plan into two or three parts. Each part will essentially cover the same material, but deliver it in a different method.

Consider the following lesson plan, written to teach a 2nd grade student to read a musical staff:

Desired Outcome: The student will leave knowing the letters associated with the Treble Clef staff (MIDDLE C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G)

  • Lesson Part 1:  Lecture to the student. Explain lines and spaces, using a music theory worksheet. Have the student fill in the letters for each line and space. Let them draw their own staff on a blank sheet of paper and place the labels on their drawing.
  • Lesson Part 2: Move to the piano. Let the student play each note, while you point to the corresponding line or space on their drawing. Use a simple piece of sheet music and ask them to find the notes on the piano, stating the letter that corresponds to that note.
  • Lesson Part 3: Have them sing the names of the notes as you play the piano. Go up the scale and back down the scale.

Notice that each section of the lesson plan involves a different sensory input: visual, motor, and aural. This helps keep the student focused, even though you are going over the same material three different times.

Keep in mind that each person learns in a different way. By involving various inputs, you should find the one that makes it the easiest for your student to retain information. The associations within the brain become stronger, and there is greater retention.

Practice Your Delivery

It is important that you read your notes aloud and practice your delivery. Do not memorize your lesson. Just be familiar enough with the material that you can handle any questions that might arise about the material covered in THAT lesson. Feel free to tell your students that you will cover additional information at a future date. Don’t let your lessons get derailed. Keep your eyes on the “Desired Outcome” and keep distractions to a minimum.

Teaching is all about breaking down complicated subjects into manageable bits. Keep your topics narrow, your delivery interesting, and distractions to a minimum. Having a good lesson plan going into the lesson is the key to keeping your thoughts focused and your lessons on track.

Kim Schmutzler

About the Author

Kim Schmutzler

Kim and her husband, Craig, live in Overland Park KS where she successfully manages a marketing company and homeschools her two children still at home. Twenty-two years of juggling business and homeschooling has taught her a thing or two about time management. In addition to work and family, Kim helps her husband with the College and Career class at the church and also directs the Children's Music Ministry and drama team. The Submissive Spirit was born from her desire to reach out to other Christian women across the globe and share encouragement and the love of Christ.

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