Lesson plans are an essential component of a successful teaching experience. These plans help ensure that all standards and materials are covered, providing a teacher and students with structure for each class day. Many schools require that teachers submit lesson plans in a specific format on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For teachers who do not have a required format, a variety of formats are available to meet individual needs.

Five-Step Lesson Plan

A five-step lesson plan is a form of daily lesson planning that includes the following components: anticipatory set, instruction, guided practice, closure or assessment and independent practice.

In the anticipatory set, a teacher should note the objective of the lesson, explain how it connects to past learning and describe the purpose for what is being learned. These items should be written in a student-friendly form so the teacher can easily convey them to the students during the lesson.

For the instruction section, a teacher must list how she will use direct teaching through modes such as lecturing, providing notes or showing a video, and modeling by demonstrating how to complete a process or activity. This section should also include questions or brief activities the teacher will use to check to see if students are understanding the material.

The third step is guided practice, which asks the teacher to list any activity students will complete in the classroom with teacher or peer assistance. This is followed by the fourth step, closure or assessment, which requires an activity to help the teacher get a snapshot of what students learned that day. This section can include an exit slip, a short reflection or something more in-depth such as a quiz or a test.

Independent practice is the fifth section of this format. In many cases, independent practice can be completed in class; however, in the five-steps plan, independent practice is the place the teacher lists any homework assignments students will be expected to complete related to that day's lesson.

Five-E Lesson Plan

The five-E lesson plan format asks teachers to list components that deal with engaging, explaining, exploring, elaborating and evaluating.

This lesson plan begins with a question or brief activity that hooks or engages students at the beginning of the lesson. In the second phase, the teacher lectures or provides a video, reading passage or demonstration to explain the material and its key terms.

After explaining the concept, a teacher must show what activity students will complete to help them explore the material. These activities can include stations, cooperative learning groups, games, worksheets or other instructional methods.

The fourth component, elaborating, can be compared to independent practice. Activities should help students apply the concept to a variety of situations. This work can be completed in class or as a homework assignment.

Each five-E lesson plan ends with an evaluation component to determine whether students have learned the material. This can come in the form of a formal, graded assessment, or students can be informally assessed with a question and answer session, exit slip or short writing prompt.

Weekly Lesson Plan

A weekly lesson plan is an ideal format for teachers who are covering a similar topic throughout the week. At the top of the lesson plan, teachers should list the standards, objectives and essential questions being covered that week. Under that section, each day of the week is listed with a short description of the activities for that day. At the end of the plan, a section should be included to list any assessments that will cover the week's instruction, such as a unit or chapter exam or special project.

Unit Plan

For teachers who do not work well with elaborate plans, a unit plan is a simple way to guide instruction. At the top of the unit plan, teachers list all of the standards and objectives covered in the unit along with the projected time-frame for the unit. Below that is a list of all activities expected to be part of the unit, followed by a list of all assessments related to the unit. Each day, a teacher presents lessons to students with that unit in mind, but since there is no specific plan laid out, there is some flexibility in what is covered each day.

Inquiry-Based Lesson Plan

Inquiry-based lesson plans are especially useful for the science classroom because they involve experimentation and hands-on activities that allow the teacher to be a facilitator of learning rather than an instructor. Lesson plans that are inquiry-based include very little lecture or notes. Teachers begin this type of lesson plan by listing the standards and objectives to be covered. After that should be a detailed description of any activities students are to complete during the day's lesson. Activities should not include worksheets or exams, but instead hands-on problem-solving experiences through experiments, cooperative learning groups or stations. After the activity, teachers should list a variety of inquiry-based questions to ask students to promote discussion of the concepts and material covered in the activity and help further facilitate student learning.