University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Summer 2003

Developing Lesson Plans

A lesson plan may serve as a stand-alone unit or may be a component of a larger unit or course. A lesson may be accomplished in a few hours, all day, or may even take several days. In deciding how many lessons are necessary or how long a lesson should be, it may be necessary to revisit the goals and objectives because they may be too ambitious or too limited.

The design process is always circular because earlier decisions are often modified as teaching progresses.

Some guidelines for the development of effective lessons:

Deductive and Inductive Organizations of Lessons

In a deductive model, the lesson usually begins with the presentation of a generalization, a rule, or a concept defintion. Students then receive specific examples and the facts associated with the generalization, rule, or concept. The movement is from general to specific. Students are encouraged to draw inferences and make predictions based on the examples. Deductive models, as in lectures, can be effective when used sparingly to deliver information

In an inductive model, the lesson begins with the presentation of specific data and facts and gradually, through the process of investigation and reasoning, the students are led to form the generalization, rule, or concept definition. Induction is generally believed to be more conducive to stimulating thinking.

Advance Organizers

This term was defined by David Ausubel (Educational psychology; A Cognitive View NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968) to be the "anchoring foci for the reception of new material." An advance organizer is presented at the beginning of the lesson and is usually a general statement or analogy that helps the learner place the material to be learned in context.

Ausubel says advance organizers "provide advance ideational scaffolding, ... provide a generalized overview of similarities and differences between two bodies of ideas before encountering new concepts in a more detailed and particularized form, and ... create an advance set in the learner." He cautions against overly explicit specification. (David Ausubel, "The Use of Advance Organizers in the Learning and REtention of Meaningful Verbal Material," Journal of Educational Psychology 51 (1960): 267-272.)

An advance organizer can be a statement made by the techer or an experience or a reading assignment. Organizers can be expository or comparative.

Advance organizers are generally considered part of a deductive lesson plan but might be used to set the stage for an inductive lesson. Like the statement of objectives, advance organizers help students comprehend the purpose of the lesson more clearly. The intent is to involve students in the process as participants.

Sample Outline for a Lesson Plan

Below is an outline that incorporates advance organizers and might be used to provide a logical approach to a lesson.

  1. Title of Lesson:

  2. Date or Time to be Taught:

  3. Part of Unit or Context:

  4. Lesson Objectives:

  5. Advance Organizer:

  6. Background Materials: (textbook pages, supplementary readings, web pages, videos, demonstration material, and the like)

  7. Instructional Design:

  8. Questions for Classroom Discussion:

  9. Guided and Independent Practice:

  10. Feedback and Evaluation Plans:

Models of Instruction

Bruce Joyce and Marsha Weil published a book called Models of Teaching that is now in its 6th edition (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000) and is a frequently used reference. The authors present a brief explanation of a variety of instructional models with the theoretical base and instructional situations where the model might be appropriate. They suggest that "Most teachers use a very narrow range of instructional practices." They encourage teachers to develop a repertoire of four or five models to stimulate their creativity in teaching.

Some of these models include:

  • Direct Instruction
  • Concept Attainment (Comprehension, Comparison, Discrimination and Recall)
  • Concept Development (Categorization)
  • Inquiry (Problem-solving)
  • Synectics (Use of group interaction to stimular creative through through analogical thinking)
  • Cause and Effect (Inference, hypotheses, generalization)
  • Discussion (Essential questions)
  • Resolution of conflict
  • Values Development (Ethics, Civility, Cultural understanding)
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Memory

Some of these models can be examined and considered for inclusion as part of your teaching repertory.

Revised 6/25/2003.