Lesson planning should clearly outline the exact aims and objectives of your lesson, so that you can clearly identify the learning goals for your students during a lesson. All the goals of a lesson plan should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Appropriate. Organizing a defined lesson plan will enable you and your students to succeed in your teaching and learning environment.

Defining an Aim

An aim in a lesson plan is generally thought to encompass the lesson as a whole. The aim broadly focuses on what you plan to do and achieve with your students in a lesson. Experienced, published teacher James Atherton writes, "Aims are broad statements of what learning you hope to generate. The Aim is the point of the whole thing." To determine an aim for your lesson, focus on what part of the curriculum you are teaching and how you are going to achieve your goals for the students.

Writing an Aim

Write your aim, or end goal of your lesson, at the top of the lesson plan. Avoid vague and difficult-to-assess words such as "understand" or "appreciate." Use SMART words like "design," "formulate," "practice" and "analyze." Describe your aim using active verbs to help track student progress. For example, if you want to teach your students how to do a dance from the movie "High School Musical," write your aim as: "To engage the students in practicing the moves and performing a dance from 'High School Musical' as a class."

Objectives

Objectives are the smaller steps that will help you achieve your main aim. Break down your aim into small steps that will lead you and your students to the end goal. Write these objectives, or "learning outcomes," underneath your aim. For example, your first objective in the lesson centered on performing a dance can read, "1. To watch a dance scene from 'High School Musical.'" Include three or four outcomes per one hour of instruction, but adjust the number of outcomes according to your lesson. Remember to make your outcomes SMART.

Hard Targets

In a two-hour lesson with eight objectives, your first six objectives should be "hard" targets in that they directly relate to the task at hand. Hard targets assess cognitive skills and specific achievements that are part of the curriculum required by the learning institution. For example, continuing with your objectives on performing a dance, write: "2. Engage the whole class in a warm-up activity"; "3. Practice three sequential moves with a partner;" and "4. Complete three individual moves together as a class." Complete the fifth and sixth objectives with similar hard targets.

Soft Targets

Soft targets are goals that will help your students develop personal and social skills. Including soft targets in your lesson plan will help prepare students for "real life" by developing transferable skills that go beyond the classroom. In the example of a two-hour lesson on performing a dance, your last two objectives will be soft. For example: "7. Discuss with a fellow student how to complete a move;" and "8. Work on individual difficulties with a fellow student."