Planning Engaging Lessons

August 23, 2017 / by Lily Jones

At the beginning of the school year, we spend a lot of time and energy building class culture. And with good reason: once we get into the school year, having a positive classroom environment goes a long way.

But as you settle in with your new class or classes over the first few weeks, you begin to move away from community-building activities and spend the majority of your time teaching content. When that happens, it’s time to turn your attention to planning. Follow these five tips and get inspired to create engaging lesson plans.

Get Motivated

Writing lesson plans might not seem like the most exciting thing to do, but it can be a valuable learning experience. Read this blog about the power of planning and learn five ways teachers can learn from writing lesson plans. Having solid plans will make you feel more confident and relaxed in the classroom, so the time you spend planning will be a good investment.

Get Started

Not sure where to start? Check out this list of ten great lesson planning templates and resources. Depending on the requirements of your school and district, try out a few of these tools and see which ones work best for you. Want done-for-you plans? This collection of completed lessons and unit plans has you covered.


Planning with a colleague can make the whole process easier and more fun. Watch this video to see two second grade teachers collaborating to plan a science and ELA lesson for English Language Learners. Then, watch this video to see ELA and social studies teachers work together to plan a cross-discipline lesson. Think about who you could collaborate with when planning. Don’t have anyone on your grade level or subject area team? Reach out to teachers in different areas or even different school sites.

Go Deep

There are two major areas of planning to consider: short-term and long-term. If you don’t get ahead of your day-to-day planning, it’s hard to make time to think about the big picture. Once you have a strong sense of what you want to accomplish during the school year, you can break down your big learning goals into smaller daily chunks. Structuring your teaching around essential questions can be an effective way to start communicating your big goals to students.

Want to go really deep? Dive into project-based learning. Check out how teachers use the SAGE acronym to deepen student learning in this video.

Be Flexible

No matter how much you plan, you’ll never be 100% prepared. It’s important to have a Plan B, but it’s just as essential to respond to students’ needs. Don’t be afraid to stray from your plans and go with the flow. Feeling confident with your planning helps you to be more responsive to your students.

And check out the Tch Back To School Starter Packs for more great lesson planning resources.

Topics: Lesson Planning, Resources

Lily Jones

Written by Lily Jones

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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