The Lesson Planning Checklist

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When I first started teaching, I spent HOURS planning one solitary lesson! I couldn’t comprehend how a teacher could work full-time hours with all the planning you had to do.  Eventually this got easier; my lessons plans got shorter as my teaching became more instinctive, yet many times I felt that I didn’t really get to the heart of my lesson. The students didn’t spend the bulk of the lesson grappling with my main lesson aims.


Nowadays, I seem to have gone full circle with lesson planning. I tend to think more about how I can really achieve the main goals of my lesson. What the most important thing is that I want each student to come away with by the end of the class.

So I had a think about what questions I ask myself when I plan a lesson. None of these ideas are by any means novel however I find it’s a useful checklist.

Lesson Plan Check List:

  • Timetable fit: What did I/my partner teacher do previously? What am I going to do tomorrow? Do the lessons link?
  • What are my main learning outcomes (LOs) for the lesson? What are my secondary LOs?
  • Which activities are KEY for achieving my learning outcomes? Which activities can I omit if I have to?
  • Do the activities flow? Think about: Pace, learner styles, do the activities need to be done in a certain sequence?
  • Anticipated problems: how will I deal with language questions, early finishers, how can I make it easier/more challenging if necessary?
  • Pronunciation and Error Correction: Where can I slot these into my lesson?
  • How can I relate the activities to my students?
  • Engaging lessons – Relate the lesson to your students’ lives; show them how this lesson will be useful for them in the real world.
  • Picked by the students – What do your students want to learn? Students are going to be much more motivated if they play a part in lesson planning.
  • Authentic – Use authentic materials if you can, bridge the gap between class and the real world.
  • Demand high: Loads of useful tips here on how to get the most out of your students in each class using demand high techniques. Think about:

Demand High Teaching… more!

  • How can I push my students to upgrade their language and improve their skills?
  • How can I gain real learning value from classroom activities that have become tired or familiar?
  • How can I shift from “successful task“to “optimal learning”?

By Cheryl Malanek



26 Responses

  1. Bonkoungou w Geoffroy

    Great idea for lessons plans

  2. Very useful and mindful of the core facets of effective lesson planning, and a good point of reference for when we are swamped in material, wondering how best to exploit it. Thank you.

    • Thanks Christine. Teachers often feel swamped – these are just simple guidelines to follow that helps you keep learning objectives in mind and keeps you on track to reach your lesson aims.

  3. Very good website.

  4. Royhaila Drahman

    Very good post for ex engineer like me who change profession to a teacher ..tougher though , because we teach language which is not their liking. Need to find activities which most interest them.

    • Thanks Royhaila. The key is to source material that engages them and make lessons interesting, motivating and fun, especially with younger learners and teens. (But adults too) Getting to know your students and personalising your lesson will help with this – gear your lesson towards their likes/dislikes and supplement your course book if you are planning around a topic you know just won’t ‘work’ with a certain group.

  5. […] How young children learn English through play. Lesson idea: quick conditionals review. Tips, ideas and lesson plans from a developing teacher. The English Bookshop – English Rocks! 101 ESL Games, Activities, and Lesson Plans (Teaching English Abroad) Product Description They’re bored, they’re tired, and they’d rather be anywhere else. Module action points – a warmer. Here’s a simple needs analysis/goal-setting warmer to do at the beginning of a new module or unit, in order to help the group personalize the topic and take ownership of their learning. Materials: editable .docx worksheet. The Lesson Planning Checklist – ELT Connect. […]

  6. Real , useful .
    What about timing?

    • Thanks Duong. Timing really depends on the activity you are doing, but keep in mind that all learners have short attention spans (now more than ever with technology) so keep the pace snappy, don’t ‘drag out’ your tasks and consider what you can omit without taking from your lesson aims while also considering what you can reduce the timing on if students are fading. Also think about the amount of feedback you give. Ask yourself Is it necessary to go around the class and get feedback from everyone student after a fluency based task? Or could you just get feedback from 2 or 3 students?

  7. syprianus safardi

    Exellen Ideas for teahers, many thanks for sharing this.

  8. it’s very helpful…

  9. Sofian nor aldaiem

    good idea and also try to make them more learners centre and use fun and games in activities to be motivated

    • Thanks Sofian, yes it’s really important to make lessons fun with games and activities to keep them engaged and motivated. But still keeping in mind your learning objectives and not playing games for the sake of it. It can be fun but also have a specific learning aim too.

  10. Ive been teaching for about 15 years and i still have problems in lesson planning!
    Thank u for the information

    • Thanks Rudy, I think a lot of experienced teachers are in the same boat as you. Glad you found this useful. If you have any other tips, do let us know.

  11. Ashpak Kazi

    Very much useful guidelines. .It will help me to prepare lesson plans. .

  12. I want to know step by step how to create a lesson plan

  13. faryal faiz

    i am a well planned teacher

  14. seema pandit

    Using variety of interaction pattern where they will get chance to use target language andcan come up with their own ideas

    • Thanks Seema, yes varying your interaction patterns is really important and keeps them motivated and fresh. Keeping in mind that the aim of the task is to use the target language is also really important. Do you have any other good tips?

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