How to make an online lesson plan that rocks – with lesson plan template

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I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.

Now that remote teaching is taking over the brick-and-mortar form of teaching, it is important to adapt quickly and effectively to meet the needs of your students.

And making an online lesson plan that works for you and your students makes all the difference.

So in this article, I will share what makes an online lesson plan that rocks. It all starts with your creativity and tools at your disposal.

Keys to success in planning a good online lesson:

  • A range of activities to open and close your class
  • Use of mini-plenaries to check for student understanding
  • Adapting teaching style to meet the needs of online lessons

Let’s put the above into visuals and what an ideal online lesson should look like:

teaching visuals

The way you structure your online class determines everything. It defines how the students learn, what they do in class and what is expected of them.

The teacher decides all of this. It is all part of the teacher’s plan. And that plan needs to foster learning, manage well and create an environment that enables all students to thrive.

How do you structure your online class to maximize learning? It starts with the beginning.

In the beginning the teacher should outline what the students will do, what is expected of them to accomplish the goals of the lesson and how they will be assessed.

The students need to be able to repeat the teacher’s plan or lesson outcomes in their own words so that there is no confusion.

Using CCQs and ICQs to make sure the students understand is part of good online class practices that I discussed in my article on 20 strategies for teaching English online. Take a look at that article for some more tips.
online lesson

How do you open an online class lesson?

Ellen Ullman

Set the tone for your class from the beginning. A short task that engages students at the beginning of the class is very important.

But it is also important to choose the right task for the right lesson. Know which type of class opener to use depending on the lesson topic. Then use that opener to lead into the core of the lesson.

What are some examples of good openers?

Here are some good examples that can be used to foster a whole class discussion to get students focused.

A Quote & Interpretation – A small discussion after reading a quote to interpret itA status update – ask students what they would put as their Facebook status and whyPicture and what it means – a meaning filled image with many conclusionsA silly debate – a debate that allows students to give their own opinions, if you had a million dollars what would you do?
A riddle – give students a riddle to solve and time them Game show host – have a student be a host for a short skitThe president – have a student pretend to be the President or Prime Minister and the rest of the class ask them questions about societyClue giver – give a clue about a recent event and time who can get the answer

These are some examples you can use to start a lesson and even end a lesson depending on relevance.

Again, why use a class opener?

  • To engage the students
  • Get students focused on the current lesson and also remember what they have been learning
  • To develop a sense of community in the classroom depending on the task

Having one of these ideas displayed on your first slide of the lesson sets the stage. Students can then share and discuss using the chat or the microphone.

How should an online lesson plan look in a 45 minute lesson?

* 5 Minutes: of start/opener and (plug any of the starters above here).
* 5-10 minutes: lead in and ask a general question about what the students think the lesson is about based on the opener. If students are unable to guess, then maybe read the title of the lesson, then display it on your power point.

Then illicit from students the outcomes of the class. <em>For example,</em> if the lesson is on domestic animals you could ask the students:

Do any of you have animals at home? And If not, do you have a friend that has a cat or a dog?

Then follow up with showing pictures of domestic animals after getting a few answers. Then show a picture of animals that are likely to be pets.

Then ask as student to define pet. <em>Then perhaps draw their attention to the word pet and domestic animal again.</em> And here comes your outcomes for the lesson:

Ask the class, based on what I have shown you and what we just discussed, what do you think today’s lesson will be about?

Then agree or modify what the students say and then lead into the core of the lesson. And you could say, today we are going to talk about domestic animals.

And ask the class, can someone tell me based on what we have talked about so far, what the word domestic means?

And then from there go into the meat of the lesson.

* 10 minutes: power point presentation on types of domestic animals, describing their vocabulary, their colors, temperament and questions and illicit answers from students.

* 10 minutes: After the powerpoint, students can be given an assessment (pre-planned) using Kahoots, Padlet, Nearpool, Microsoft forms, LMS, TEAMS, SwiftAssess or whatever platform you choose to use.

* 10 minutes: plenary to check student answers and give feedback. As well as a closer for the lesson.

What are good ideas for closing a lesson?

The ending of a lesson is just as important as the closing. You want to make sure that more than 85% of your students participated.

However, if possible, you want to strive for 100% who learned something and also participated in the lesson.

Here is my personal lesson plan template

Standardised_Lesson_Plan_Template20V2 Follow my Fb page or sign up for more great templates like this to modify and use as you like.

Here are 14 plenary ideas to use in closing a lesson:

1. List 3 things you found out/learnt today
2. Summarize this character/scene/chapter in 3 bullet points
3. Summarize the topic in 5 sentences – reduce to 5 words – reduce to one
4. 60 second challenge – sum up knowledge of text, or write down all the
words you can think of to describe…
5. Break the code to identify the 3 main points from today’s lesson
6. Design your own writing mat to give advice to other students about…
7. Create a poster to illustrate the spelling strategy you have learnt
8. Create a mnemonic which reflects the meaning of a new word or term
you have learnt today
9. Write dictionary definitions for new terms learnt today
10. The answer is XYZ – now write the question.
11.Spot the missing words in cloze summary of learning
12.Word search containing key words or information learnt during lesson –
use clues/definitions to help you
13.Word / picture bingo
14.If the aim of the lesson was set as a question: pupils answer questions
on the screen – with word limit for sentence to provide extra challenge 15.Take one minute to compose two statements in your head to explain what we have learnt and how we have learnt it

Any of these would close out a lesson nicely.

Final thoughts

Planning is everything when it comes to a good lesson. Followed by structure of the lesson and effective use of CCQs and ICQs to make sure students get the most out of the lesson. This does not change when using online platforms.

Talk to me, let me know if this article was helpful to you?

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First Time In Korea

The hilarious E-book and novella about the life of an ESL Teacher in South Korea. A small town, not many English speakers and the events that followed are shared in this book.

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