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Effective Lesson Planning - ABCD Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Planning ahead to identify a course of action that can effect­ively reach goals and objectives is an important first step in any process, and education is no exception. In education, the planning tool is the lesson plan, which is a detailed descri­ption of an instru­ctor’s course of instru­ction for an individual lesson intended to help learners achieve a particular learning objective. Lesson plans commun­icate to learners what they will learn and how they will be assessed, and they help instru­ctors organize content, materials, time, instru­ctional strate­gies, and assistance in the classroom. Lesson planning helps English as a second language (ESL), adult basic education (ABE), adult secondary education (ASE), and other instru­ctors create a smooth instru­ctional flow and scaffold instru­ction for learners.

The Lesson Planning Process

Before the actual delivery of a lesson, instru­ctors engage in a planning process. During this process, they determine the lesson topic (if states have implem­ented content standards, the topic should derive from them). From the topic, derive the lesson objective or desired result­s—the concepts and ideas that learners are expected to develop and the specific knowledge and skills that learners are expected to acquire and use at the end of the lesson. Objectives are critical to effective instru­ction because they help instru­ctors plan the instru­ctional strategies and activities they will use, including the materials and resources to support learning. It is essential that the objective be clear and describe the intended learning outcome.

ABCD of Writing Objectives

Objectives can commun­icate to learners what is expected of them—but only if they are shared with learners in an accessible manner. Instru­ctional objectives must be specific, outcom­e-b­ased, and measur­able, and they must describe learner behavior. Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and Smaldino (2001) refer to the ABCD’s of writing object­ives:

Audience – learners for whom the objective is written (e.g., ESL, ABE, GED)
Behavior – the verb that describes what the audience will be able to do (e.g., describe, explain, locate, synthe­size, argue, commun­icate)
Condition – the circum­stances under which the audience will perform the behavior (e.g., when a learner obtains medicine from the pharmacy, he or she will be able to read the dosage)
Degree – acceptable perfor­mance of the behavior (i.e., how well the learner performs the behavior)


Learner assessment follows from the objectives

Learner assessment follows from the object­ives. Based on the principles of backward design developed by Wiggins and McTighe (1998), instru­ctors identify the lesson objective or desired results and then decide what they will accept as evidence of learners’ knowledge and skills. The concept of backward design holds that the instructor must begin with the end in mind (i.e., what the student should be able to know, unders­tand, or do) and then map backward from the desired result to the current time and the students’ current abilit­y/skill levels to determine the best way to reach the perfor­mance goal.